Nagpur: Connoisseurs of good food accompanied by mellow wines have come to look forward this festival eagerly every year.
The wait was a bit longer this year since the unexpected change of venue carried forward the festival from end-2017 to January 2018. But the organizers, Nagpur Agro Development Association, and the man behind the wine scene of Nagpur Sharad Phadnis, have promised us another festival in December 2018 – so this year will see two wine festivals held with great euphoria in Nagpur.
The venue this year was the Chitnavis centre. May be the ‘transfer’ to a more central and more accessible venue saw the footfalls increase exponentially on the opening day of the festival ; despite the distraction of having Super Star Salman present in another part of the city. Even past 9 p.m. families were still flocking in while very few were exiting despite the cold. There was live music, there was a wide choice of wines , there was a good array of freshly prepared food and there was great company, so why would anyone want to leave?
The festival was inaugurated this year by Shailendra Pai, Founder and CEO of Vallone Vineyards of Nasik. The guest of honour was Abhay Kewadkar, India’s most famous wine maker who incidentally is a Nagpurian. Others present were Deepak Bhatnagar, Director, Marketing of Sula, Ajoy Shaw, Wine maker, and Jagdish Holkar, past President of Indian Grape Processing Board.
Speaking first, Sharad Phadnis announced that as of now membership of Nagpur Wine Lovers club has touched the magic figure of 250. They have grown from 11 to 250 in a short span of few years.
Pai said this was probably the largest wine lovers club in the country!
“Such a club does not exist even in Mumbai… wish every Indian city had a Phadnis!” Pai remarked.
Abhay Kewadkar opined that rather than numbers, dedication of the members matters and Nagpur has that in abundance. “This dedication has made the festival a valuable property in itself” he said.
Deepak Bhatnagar added that wine culture is growing in India, and such festivals help in raising awareness about the health benefits of drinking wine as opposed to hard liquor.
He said just a decade ago, he could not sell even 10 cases of wine to a Distributor, and now he sells over 4500!
Ajoy Shaw added to that saying wine consumption in India has gone up from 8 ml per capita to 20 ml now.
The climax of the opening program was the ‘popping’ open of sparkling wine Orega from the vineyards of Grover Zampa.
The festival will remain open till 8 p.m. today. (The response being so good, organizers are afraid most stalls will run out of stock to sell by 6 p.m. and the festival may have to close early!)
—Sunita Mudaliar, Executive Editor
Pic by Antriksh Surpam