Beer baron to woo wine drinkers

by Subhash Arora

Vijay Mallya, chairman of UB Group, the largest beer and spirit s company in India has announced his foray into the wine market. After failing to buy

the Champagne house, Taittinger, he later purchased their winery in Loire Valley, Bouvet Ladubey. Abhay Kewadkar, ex-winemaker from Grover s Vineyards in Bangalore, explains that they plan to start selling imported wines, but beginning with the harvest next spring shall crush grapes bought from contract farmers and start making Indian wines as well.

After the earlier attempts of marketing imported wine aborted four years ago, this is a serious business plan from the liquor king who feels that the wine industry has reached a take-off stage. Riding on their most popular beer brand, Kingfisher, he plans to name his new division Kingfisher Wines. Says Mallya, because the Indian market is maturing fast, the time has come to launch a wine brand. We do not let opportunities like this slip by and we have the distribution muscle to push this through. A couple of years ago he started Kingfisher Airline as a surrogate advertising medium to maintain his beer brand in focus. In a short span he made it a popular and well-respected airline.

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