Indian Wine Challenge cancelled over delays
Shukti Sarma 14 December 2010

The event would have brought several foreign winemakers to the country, but the industry thinks it won’t have much of an impact; probably not, as the business is already struggling due to a glut

The fourth instalment of the Indian Wine Challenge, which was scheduled to be held in Mumbai in January, has been shelved. The organisers, Indian Food and Beverages Competition Ltd, say that the event had to be cancelled because there were not enough entries.

"It is unfortunate", said Subhas Arora, president of the Indian Wine Academy. "I have been a judge for the earlier events and I can say it is a very credible, fair and certifiable competition. I think it will take another year to have its next instalment."

The three previous events-in London, New Delhi and Mumbai-had attracted many Continental and overseas winemakers and some domestic players. Apart from providing labels with good exposure, the event also aims to help consumers make informed choices regarding their vintage.

But why has interest declined this time? Mr Arora says that the recession might be the main reason. "This year, winemakers are thinking about saving money, because there is a glut. With each sample, the entrants were required to pay a certain amount. There are other excise norms to take care of as well," Mr Arora told Moneylife. On top of that, he said, many foreign competitors may have held back because the much-hyped great Indian wine boom has not happened.

There are some other factors as well. The first two events had suffered problems from complex customs and laws, and when the competition shifted to India this year, there was a huge delay in obtaining and releasing the samples. In addition, the responsibility for organising changed hands continuously, which took a toll on the event.

The first instalment was jointly organised by the chairman of the competition, Robert Joseph, and IFE India Ltd. But, IFE got dissolved soon and Mr Joseph had to partner with Informa India. Finally, Mr Joseph entered into collaboration with the IWSG Group, which hosts the International Wine and Spirits Competition annually and held a wine competition in Hong Kong last year. The fourth instalment of the Indian Wine Challenge was also to merge in the India Spirits Challenge.

How will the cancellation of the event impact Indian winemakers? "Not much, because the domestic manufacturers can sell wine without a medal," says Mr Arora. "It was mainly an event for the foreign vintage houses and winemakers, who sought to penetrate the Indian market. India is generally regarded as a tough market. The competition provided for a good gateway. Also, there are many wine connoisseurs who look forward to attending it."

This year has been tough for vini-viticulturists and wine lovers in India. With the Indian Wine Challenge scrapped, it will add another tally mark to the list of woes.

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