The Brothers Putting the Italian Fizz in Indian Wine
Fratelli Vineyards is an Indo-Italian venture that is producing a premium brand of Indian wine that is steadily gaining recognition for its quality.
“We are not seven initial promoters but eight. The eighth being the omnipresence of a power up there, who has always come to our rescue,” says Kapil Sekhri, director, Fratelli Vineyards.
Fratelli Vineyards is an Indo-Italian venture that is producing a premium brand of Indian wine that is steadily gaining recognition for its quality. The name Fratelli means ‘Brothers’ in Italian. It is a joint venture between Italy’s Secci brothers, Alessio and Andrea, New Delhi’s Sekhri brothers, Kapil and Gaurav, and the Mohite-Patil brothers, Ranjitsinh and Arjunsinh of Solapur.
Sekhri hails from a business family and was inspired by his father, who always encouraged him to dream big. The seven years he spent in the UK exposed him to the eclectic global culture of Europe, inspiring him to start a business that could woo a global audience.
The Indo-Italian team set out to create a product of international standards, using the centuries-old wine making traditions of Italy. The company decided to plant its own vineyards, instead of sourcing grapes from a viticulture it had no control over. The expertise of Piero Masi, the master wine maker from Tuscany, now enables this partnership of three families to bring in the impeccable Italian wine making traditions to India.
The year 2007 had a flat start for Fratelli wines, but the fizz came later. “We were stuck in the licensing department for permission to import mother plants from France. The meeting used to happen every month and if we didn't get permission in this particular meeting then the project would be delayed by a year, causing a massive loss of over 2,00,000 plants sitting in a deep freezer somewhere in Burgundy,” recalls Sekhri. That was the day Sekhri’s son, Keshav, was born. “By afternoon I got the news that our import licence had been approved,” said a nostalgic Sekhri.
The vineyards began from Akluj, a town in the Solapur district, where four new varieties that were never grown before in India, have been planted. Fratelli now has 240 acres of vineyards in Pune, Maharashtra and Karnataka. It has managed to convert close to 1,000 acres of uncultivated barren land into green cover and provide direct employment to more than 700 people.
”I believe our journey has just begun and many milestones are yet to be crossed. Our biggest achievement has been raising the profile of Indian wines in the domestic and international market. We changed the perception that Indian wines have to be cheap by constantly raising the bar globally,” says Sekhri.
Fratelli hit a roadblock when it launched its wines in October 2010, as no distributor wanted to house its products because of the sluggish market. “We overcame this only by working hard and constantly pushing towards our goals. We believed in our product and as repeat customers kept coming, all our channel partners gradually had faith in us,” says Sekhri.
Fratelli Wines is already available at 7,000 sales points, which includes most metropolises in India and the number will grow to 10,000 by end of 2017. Fratelli exports its wines to Japan, the U.K., Italy, Hong Kong and more recently, to South Africa.
According to Sekhri, the business has grown by 50 per cent every year. Revenue for the fiscal ending March 2017 was over Rs 65 crore and expects to touch Rs 100 crore next year. After all they have been through, Sekhri believes a winner is a loser who gets up and takes another shot at his dream.
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