There is untapped Indian market for canned, packaged wines
Palash Vaswani, Founder, Hover Barrel LLP is an emerging and young wine and spirits importer, who imports Australian premium award-winning wines in slim aluminium can in India from Barokes Wines. These wines have achieved extraordinary success at international wine competitions with over 400 medals awarded to date. Irene Stokes and Greg Stokes from Barokes are the creators and owners of the innovative and globally patented Vinsafe wine packaging system which safely allows the sealing of wine in a can to achieve product integrity, stability and longevity (up to five years to date). In an exclusive interview with BIZZ BUZZ, Palash, Founder, Hover Barrel LLP, says "I take pleasure in letting you know that I have been in talks with few winemakers in other regions of Australia and across Europe and have been looking into the prospect of introducing more wines, canned, packaged, as well as few bottled wines, into the Indian market."
What prompted your decisions to import wine in cans and from Barokes Wines, Australia?
As a wanderlust who likes to indulge in food and beverages, trying out the local cuisines has always been a gateway to experience a new culture from within. And being a backpacker or traveller on the go in this fast paced world, a chance to have some wine on the go without the need of buying and finishing a bottle is like having the right-sized snack when you feel a little bit hungry, but not hungry enough to devour an entire meal.
I first saw wine being sold in cans and tetrapaks when I travelled abroad. Naturally, the first question that came to mind was "How good is this wine compared to the very few wines I have tasted in India?" I had to give it a shot and turned out that the taste and finishing was much better than most of the wines sold in glass bottles back in India.
It was then and there that the idea for capitalizing the untapped Indian market for canned and packaged wine started formulating in my head. However, it wasn't until 2019 that I actually started researching the prospects of this potentially lucrative business.
After two years worth of research, multiple meetings with stakeholders, and continuous efforts, here we are, transforming an idea into reality.
What other brands do you have in your portfolio?
Currently, I have three bubbly (RED- cabernet shiraz merlot bubbly, white - chardonnay semillon bubbly, ROSE bubbly) and two still (Red - cabernet shiraz merlot, White- chardonnay semillon) wines available in India that are vinified and canned by Barokes wines. And I take pleasure in letting you know that I have been in talks with few winemakers in other regions of Australia and across Europe and have been looking into the prospect of introducing more wines, canned, packaged, as well as few bottled wines, into the Indian market.
How did you get in the imported spirits business?
As one of the fastest growing economies around the world, companies and organizations view India as not only a major supplier, or a country to outsource their job responsibilities to, but also as a major consumer of products, goods and services. Social media, online videos, movies etc. have gone further than merely introducing us to the western culture. It has instilled curiosity in the inquisitive minds of young Indians to try out things for themselves, especially something that is still considered unusual, or classy, by the major part of the working population having the resources.
Though being accepted and admired openly and widely by the so-called elite class, wine is yet to make its way into the bellies of millions of Indians, who still resort to harder liquor and spirits for having a good time, unaware of the harmful implications of high content of alcohol in most such spirits. All I am doing is setting up a cost-effective supply chain to help manufacturers meet consumers.
Can you tell us more about Hover Barrel LLP and the rationale behind the name?
Hover Barrel LLP is my brainchild that was incepted in 2019. The logo depicts a barrel with two wings on the sides. The rationale behind the name is the same as that behind the logo, flying barrels across India and the rest of the world.
Can you say something about the Vinsafe wine packaging system? Is the technology available to others or they can their wines at Barokes?
Vinsafe is the technology developed by barokes to keep the wines safe and intact, protecting the quality of wines and giving a shelf life up to five years.
Barokes are sole manufacturers of the Vinsafe cans and hence they provide the cans to other wine companies.
Barokes has till date received over 400 medals, which says a lot about the product
What will be the pricing in India, and which are the different wines available in India?
Well currently the wines are priced at Rs 649 in Mumbai and Rs 600 in Bangalore. We have five variants - three bubbly wines and two still wines mentioned above.
What kind of target audience are you looking for your wines?
As mentioned in my earlier responses, though our target audience is primarily the young workforce of India, it is our desire and goal to reach the hearts of almost anyone and everyone above the legal drinking age who look at wine not only as a delicacy but also admire it for its therapeutic properties, notably its prolific effects on the heart besides having other psychological benefits when consumed in moderation, as shown by multiple clinical studies and trials.
Are these wines available pan India?
Our wines are readily available at few licensed stores and select restaurants in Mumbai and Bengaluru and can also be bought at the duty-free shops situated inside the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.
Besides these, we plan to expand our business to other major Indian cities and explore more outlets such as bars, wine shops, e-commerce websites, and online sales through our own website.