Kelowna wineries eye India as burgeoning market for their bottles

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Kalala Organic Estate Winery

‘Wine is getting more popular (in India) — the wine culture is growing,’ said Karnail Singh Sidhu, owner of Kalala Organic Estate Winery. Submitted photo

A couple of Kelowna wineries are eyeing India as the next up and coming wine market.

“Wine is getting more popular there now — the wine culture is growing,” said Karnail Singh Sidhu, owner of Kalala Organic Estate Winery.

Sidhu’s winery along with Kelowna’s Summerhill Pyramid Winery sent about 1,200 bottles to Bangalore last week.

According to Sidhu, India’s wine industry has come a long way — when he was in India he wasn’t even a wine drinker.

“I didn’t know what the heck wine is – all I knew was whiskey,” he said. “Now on TV or any movie you hardly see anybody drink hard liquor, but everyone’s drinking wine.

“More and more people know about wine and what it is, so it’s a good time now to get in there.”

Sidhu’s plan to ship his product to India has been 10 years in the making, but it was only in 2009 he travelled to Mumbai for a wine tour.

“They do produce some excellent wine,” he said.

But the bottles he’s sent over — Riesling, Chardonnay ice wine and Gewurztraminer — will be unique to the market.

“(The environment in India) really doesn’t allow them to grow the grapes that we’re growing here,” he said. “Their really hot weather is not ideal to grow good Gewurztraminer or Riesling grapes as we do have here.

“We have less competition there.”

While the wine will triple in price overseas, he believes the customers will be willing to pay for Canadian product.

“Canada itself has a good reputation for producing good quality stuff,” he said. “People relate Canadian (products) to pure, clean and environmentally (friendly).”

By the spring, Sidhu hopes to be sending shipments of 24,000 bottles.

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