India’s York Winery bucks the trend by opting to produce a vintage sparkling rosé wine
York Winery which started in 2008, has established itself in the Indian wine industry fairly quickly. The family-owned and run wine company based in India’s popular winemaking region of Nashik, Maharastra is already producing 10 different wines to date – red, white and sparkling wines – within this short period. The latest add-on to their portfolio is a vintage sparkling rosé, the second to be produced in India.
While the sparkling wine market is exploding everywhere in the world, in India’s nascent market interest is far from significant levels with the exception of champagne at the top end of the market. So the decision to make a sparkling rosé, a vintage at that, intrigued me.
“Yes, the market is small in India, but people who visit our winery and tasting room often ask if we make a rosé sparkling. It also helps with restaurant sales to have both a white and pink sparkling in your portfolio,” says Kailash Gurnani. While the first vintage was small, the second, 2016, is not much bigger: a mere 3500 bottles. But Gurnani is a firm believer that the Indian sparkling market will grow. “What I’ve noticed is that newbies to wine are often surprised at how easy a sparkling wine is to drink: you can just keep sipping it. In India maybe there is a lower level of awareness, if new drinkers opt to buy a sparkling wine, it is at the entry level.”
As India wine still lacks quality markers, there are no qualifications on what exemplifies a ‘good vintage’. However, Gurnani says he’s decided to buck the trend and call his sparkling rosé a vintage wine – because that is exactly what it is.
India’s second vintage sparkling rosé. Give me the back story on your decision to do this….
Actually our Chenin sparkling has always been a vintage wine. However we do not market it that way since we are rapidly scaling up production due to high demand. I want to have that flexibility of making a non-vintage wine whenever necessary to ensure consistent product quality and supply. The volumes of the sparkling rosé are small as it is a small segment in India. Further, non-vintage wines are practical only on a large scale. The style of the rosé is distinct and we felt that we must market it for what it is, a vintage wine!
Do you think India, only just waking up to the joys of sparkling, is ready for a vintage sparkling…and a rosé at that? Or are you testing the market/ and making it solely for a niche audience?
So what was the rationale behind keeping the pricing low? How many bottles did you make for this lot, and are you planning to scale up any time soon?
The first vintage is about 2800 bottles. We will gradually scale up with demand and maybe hit 5000 to 6000 bottles in a few years time. However, in India the white sparkling wine segment is currently much bigger than the rosé sparkling. We have always believed in providing the best value wines in terms of price and quality. We want good quality wines to be affordable to the consumer specially in a price sensitive country like India. That is the only way to increase wine consumption. At Rs 1300, this wine is the most expensive in our portfolio, but still exceptional value.
You’ve given some thought to packaging. It’s chic and elegant.
It has taken us about a year of sampling to achieve the final result. We wanted the bottle to look rich, classy, premium and elegant without being overdone. We’ve worked with the same design language as the Chenin Brut but used shades of pink, rose gold and copper to adapt to the colour of the liquid. We’re also very proud that all our labels including this are designed in Nashik itself. So it is a truly Nashik product in and out.
The very English sounding name, York, actually has a very Indian heart. Owner Lilo Gurnani named it for his three offspring – Yogita, Ravi and Kailash – Y,R and K – making it an easy name to recall, says Gurnani. Today, Kailash, who studied oenology in Australia, makes the wine and along with his bother Ravi, handles the marketing. Ravi also heads sales, and their brother-in-law Ravi Shamdasani handles the legal and technical aspects. Keeping it all in the family.
The York vintage sparkling rosé 2015 is currently available for Rs 1300 at the Tasting Room at the winery.
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