The delWine Excellence Awards, a first-of-its-kind ceremony dedicated to wine professionals across business verticals of the wine industry, was concluded on Wednesday night at Pullman hotel, Aerocity, Delhi. The event kicked off with a stirring call from the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Kapil Grover, chairman, Grover Zampa Vineyards, to the government and the wine industry to extend all possible benefits to wine grape farmers.
The awards were co-organised by Subhash Arora, editor of delWine, and president of the Delhi Wine Club; Sonal Holland, India’s first and only Master of Wine; and Sourish Bhattacharyya, noted food journalist and blogger.
The opening of the event was with the wines of the World Showcase, where 120-plus wines were presented by 12 leading producers and importers. Some of the wine companies participating here included York winery, Grover Zampa vineyards, Sula vineyards, Wine Park, Four Seasons and few more. All the wine companies had put up their wine stalls for wine tasting.
The awards presentation took off with the felicitation of Sonal Holland, who was just recently made a Master of Wine, an honor she shares with just 353 others across the world.
“I carry with me a heavy mantle of responsibility, ensuring that I represent India as your ambassador, with great pride at various forums; and I will continue to make sure that India always has a voice at the table,” said Holland.
The event saw Sula Vineyards walk away with the voting-based Public Perception Awards and The Wine Company pick up four awards in the standalone restaurant category — two each in the Jury Awards and Popular Perception awards. The Leela Palace New Delhi, which also picked up the Best International Wine Selection trophy for Le Cirque, and Masala Library and NCR’s Wine Destination of the Year award, was picked up by The Leela Ambience Gurgaon, which was also commended for having the Best Indian Wine Selection among five-star hotels in the NCR. In the standalone category, Diva Gulati’s Spice Market too got the award for the Indian Restaurant with the Best Wine Selection.
Co-founder Subhash Arora was overwhelmed with the response and said, “The biggest compliment came from Amit Arora of The Cellar, who took home the Retailer of the Year trophy. I met him on the podium for the first time ever. He could not believe he got an award without anyone from delWine coming to meet him. I have never seen something like this ever!”
Sonal Holland while talking to Guardian 20 said,” We have a lot of importers who are doing the hard work so that we can get newer style. I know this importer who is working to get Italian brand of wines which is a low alcohol and a slightly sweet sparkling wine which will be mainly targeted for younger consumers or willing consumers who are very new in their wine drinking journey because when you are very new you like slightly sweeter style or low alcohol wines, kind of appeal to these consumers.”
Guardian 20 asked her about her initiative, Soho wine club, and how she is planning to globalize the wine industry of India, to which she said “We already have close to 2000 labels of wine available in our country something that I am trying to market through my own initiative called the Soho wine club. It will bring all wine lovers under one roof for all their wine needs including wine tastings, wine dinners, and wine buying, corporative gifting, wine tours. Basically an expert coming and telling them what they should be drinking, curating a selection of wines that they should be drinking because expert advice is necessary. Awareness about wines is very low, people want to be told what should they drink and where to get it, so Soho wine club does two things – makes wine accessible and makes wine approachable.”
The jury, besides Subhash Arora, included Sonal Holland and Sourish Bhattacharyya, Tristan Beau de Lomenie, General Manager Delegate, Pullman and Novotel, New Delhi Aerocity; Yasho Saboo, Juan Antonio Obergon and many other known celebrities graced the occasion.