Reveilo, a name synonymous with quality Indian wines, is a story of passion and undeterred commitment to quality. Behind this home-grown brand are the husband-wife duo Yatin and Kiran Patil. It was a life altering decision of quitting their respective corporate lives and returning to their 100-acre ancestral farm in Nashik, Maharashtra. They consciously opted to join the wine industry and cash in on the potential of the then rising sector. With the vision to evolve family’s agricultural heritage into a brand, the first plantings were sown in 2000. And soon, under the tutelage of Vintage Wines and brand ‘Reveilo’, wines were launched in 2006.
THE REVEILO STORY
What started as a boutique estate-bottled winery more than a decade and a half ago has remained so till date. Reveilo, which signifies revealing the mystery, owes a lot to Italian technology and know-how, having tied up with an Italian group for its technical collaboration. In fact, this vision of providing the Indian consumer with ‘something different yet authentic’ Italian experience led Vintage Wines to walk the untreaded path of planting the Italian varieties of Grillo, Nero di Avola, and Sangiovese.
With a degree in Business Management, Kiran Patil has worked for 8 years in the Sales & Marketing domain of realty sector. Subsequently, in 2005, she decided to embark on the wine trail along with her husband. Along the 14 years, she has been instrumental in handling sales & marketing, and in building and growing the brand geographically with consistency and persistence. She’s absolutely passionate about making “Reveilo” one of the premium wine brands in the Indian market, and also to increase its global presence.
Along the journey, Kiran has been selected in the Top Ten ‘WOW’ (Women of the Wine World) in India.
CONVERSATION BY IWBS
Being the first winery in India to produce a barrel-fermented Chardonnay and becoming game changers, what inspired you to take such major steps?
The Reveilo idea was always to be a premium wine producing company. With this thought process, we thought of making Reserve wines. Of the varieties we had, Chardonnay, Cabernet and Syrah had the potential to age. Typically, it takes time for ageing the wines, which involves fermentation in stainless steel, followed by transferring them to the oak barrels, which adds complexities and character to the wines during the process of ageing. This would take anywhere between 9 to 12 months. So, we decided to cut the entire time to half by fermenting the wines in the barrel itself. The resultant wine was an extremely clean and fresh wine, which was complex and fruit-forward with hints of vanilla and pineapple. Basically, what started off as a time saving process led to a much better product.
Bringing in Italian varietals to a country that’s barely aware of them, how did that move play for you?
When Reveilo was launched, they were predominantly four varieties in the wine market, namely Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. So, we decided to break the monotony, and get in fresh varieties to differentiate ourselves by leveraging the Italian pedigree and providing the Indian consumer with an authentic Italian experience. The varieties chosen were Grillo, Nero di Avola, and the Sangiovese.
These wines also complemented well with the Indian food. The Grillo did well, as people love the acidity and crispness of the wine. The Nero di Avola and Sangiovese, more familiar varieties, have also been well received, and garnered appreciation. It needed awareness and tastings to familiarise with the wine. But once, the consumers resonated with it, there was no looking back.
Though the numbers are still far away from the regular varietals, nonetheless, they are still encouraging for us and we continue to promote these variants, as we feel India is ready for more varietals. With the introduction of these varieties, Vintage Wines has become the first company in India to produce wines from Italian grapes.
If not India, where else would you want to make wines?
Winemaking is more out of passion and love for the nature, the soil, the grape and wines themselves; so it doesn’t really matter where you make them. Any place with an abundance of nature’s beauty would be suitable for making wines.
How important it is for a beverage professional to visit a vineyard and/or winery?
According to me, it is very important, in fact, mandatory for a wine beverage professional to visit a vineyard or a winery to understand and see how the wine has been made not only in the winery but also in the vineyard, as 80% of the wine is made in the vineyard. It is important to understand the culture, the thought process, the attention to detail, and also the story behind the said wine brand. The beverage professional is an important consumer contact point, and serves as a very important link between the manufacturer and the end consumer, thereby it becomes important that he understands where the wine has come from, and how it is made.
What’s your favourite beverage, when not drinking wines?
Well for Yatin, you’d clearly see him drinking coffee more often than wine
Which winemaking technique(s) or winestyles should India opt for next?
India has adopted the latest techniques and styles of winemaking due to being a late entrant and has used the best practices which are available. India chooses or drinks more of the New World wine styles which are light and fruity as the wine drinking population is the younger generation – the Millenial, who is well travelled and experienced in terms of International
What measures do you suggest to bring Indian consumers closer to the Indian produce?
To bring Indian consumers closer to the Indian produce, first and foremost, we should have an open market which currently is not there. Alcohol in India is a state subject and there are too many restrictions for free movement of the same across the country. Secondly, a uniform taxation policy which will ensure that a particular wine is available at the same price throughout the country. Here, it doesn’t matter if the rate of tax is high, but it should be uniform across the country, something akin to the GST. Third, we need to abolish archaic tax and regulatory regimes like licensing and label registration fees, and club all the revenue of the Government under the uniform tax.
India should also adopt to the international wine standards so that consumers are offered quality products, and not diluted products to keep the prices low due to high taxes. Apart from these measures, there should also be an entry barrier for imported wines in terms of an import duty to its maximum permissible level, to support our local farmers. This duty should be in addition to the uniform tax applicable on both domestic and imported wines. This would encourage local wineries to flourish, at the same time making the imported wines available as well.
What are the upcoming new offerings from Vintage Wines we should look forward to?
Well there are a couple of offerings in the pipeline. We would reveal them slowly and steadily as we move along; to just give you a curtain raiser there are going to be more Italian wines, which will complement our viticultural environment and eating preferences.
We were aware that the untraveled path that Reveilo had chosen was not going to be easy and the path would be strewn with obstacles like perception of wine (or alcohol in general for that matter) in the Indian society, inter-state taxation, inconvenient licensing and label registration procedures, accounts receivables etc. On the marketing front also, this sector offers a lot of challenges (direct advertising being banned). Combating those challenges and creating opportunities proves to be a great stimulus.
It’s been one hell of a roller coaster ride with its share of hits and misses. A lot of learning’s along the way, but the single most important one that comes to my mind is that of Resilience – staying put on the wicket without getting out.
The way ahead for us would be to further increase the share of throat in the Indian market for Reveilo and to increase its global presence.