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Wildberry Beverages: Wine Lover Haven amidst growing Wine culture in India

Wine culture is comparatively new, however, today it is being embraced by all age groups. With the availability being only for 2 decades, it has been growing steadily. 

We talked to Sagar Parakhe, Founder, Director of one of India’s leading winemakers and producer Wildberry Beverages to trace the journey from its conception, inception to its future. 

Sagar Parakhe

What do you have to say about the wine culture in India? Is it growing and in the right direction?

Sagar Parakhe: Indian wine culture is growing rapidly in a good manner, lots of young people are now equipped with wine knowledge and they keep searching for good wines in the market. There are good wine brands in the market which are produced in India and people are relishing it. With the help of the fruit wine sector, a large number of options are available in the market for consumers.

How can a brand like yourselves develop a wine cult in the country? Like the old monk cult and whiskey cults?

Sagar Parakhe: “Creating any cult,”  is a long way to go, we are at a very early stage for us. Creating any cults in this established market will take some time but we are very proud that we have started its journey to create a different cult in the wine market with non-blended fruit wine. Nowadays, wine is not wise and old men’s drink, with new types of fruit wines, the young generation is following wine trends.

What makes Wildberry different from the other wine brands in the country?

Sagar Parakhe: Wildberry prepared fruit wine is extracted from quality ripe fruit, it is not blended with grape wine or with added colour or flavours. It is naturally fermented with yeast and derives all of its alcohol from the natural fermentation of the ingredient fruit. The alcohol content in wine can vary, but typically, it has an alcohol level between 7% and 15%.

Purity: 100% pure fruit wine will have a natural flavour that is a true expression of the fruit stated on the bottle. A blended wine or flavour added wine will not have a natural taste if compared with pure fruit wine. The flavours will be more muted and simple and lack complexity. A true wine lover and connoisseur will know the difference! It is that obvious!

One of the most important reasons to start drinking more fruit wine this year is also because they are very good for your health. Eating a healthy diet and having an active lifestyle is critical for maintaining good health.

What is the concept of Wild Berry wines?

Sagar Parakhe: The company primarily aims to set up a Winery in Western Maharashtra to manufacture wine from all types available other than grapefruits like  Berries, Pineapple, Cashew Apple, Honey, Pomegranate.

Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fibres, and other nutrients essential for a healthy diet and also provide a natural source of energy. In regards to fruit wines, the real health property that sets them apart from grape wines is that they can have a very high ORAC content.

What is ORAC?

Sagar Parakhe: It stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and is a method of measuring the antioxidant capacities of different foods. It was developed by the scientists at the National Institute on Aging in the USA.

This is too large a subject to discuss but drinking wine has been proven to be very good for health, especially the health of the heart, brain functions, etc. Wines with a good source of polyphenol antioxidants such apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, grapes, pears, plums, raspberries, and strawberries provide huge health benefits and should be part of a healthy diet

What is the difference between fruit wine and grape wine?

Sagar Parahke: Although both fruit wines and grape wines are made by fermentation, fruit wines are usually chaptalized and special enzymes are added to increase their aromatic qualities, while grape wines are not. Fruit wines can be a little difficult to make due to the fact that more adjustments and balance is required than is needed with grape wines. In terms of food-matching and cuisine, most fruit wines tend to match better with Asian and spicier food such as Indian cuisine. Most grape wines, especially red wines, match better with typical Western cuisine.

What is the Importance of Unblended Fruit Wine? 

Sagar Parahke: There are many ways to make wine. With regards to fruit wine, they are made with concentrates, some juice, and some whole fruit. Others are a combination of these blended with grape wines that are readily available on the open market. Still, other wines are also made in a highly diluted manner and added with flavouring, often artificial. The best fruit wines are the ones made from whole fresh fruit, without dilution, and flavours. The wines of Wildberry are 100% pure, whole fruit wines.

Come On Charlie

What are the popular wines of the Wildberry and what else the brand offers?

Sagar Parakhe: Currently we have only one brand in the market “Come On Charlie” which is also in the process of rebranding.  Due to COVID, we lost a huge market overseas and local and had a bad setback on our plans so we are trying to come up with very new labels and new wines in the coming months all over Maharashtra.

The wine flavours enhance with time, so what is the range of alcohol content in Wildberry Wine and for how long your most popular wine is aged?

Sagar Parakhe: Our wines are unique wines made from the finest hand-picked fruits from all over Maharashtra, with the expert help of Dominic Rivard, the world-renowned and award-winning commercial fruit winemaker using a special production technique designed to meet the discerning tastes. The wine has a fresh flavour and it is recommended to drink it at a temperature of 9°C. The wine makes an excellent accompaniment to Indian cuisine or any cuisine for that matter. This wine is off-dry and retains the strawberry fruit aroma and taste, no grapes added anywhere in the whole process. The alcohol percentage is at a standard 11%, much lower than hard distilled alcohol, allowing enthusiasts to indulge in the strawberry taste and the nuances of flavours. Strawberry wine is extremely heart-friendly. It reduces the level of C-reactive protein. Strawberry wine is ranked among the third highest when it comes to antioxidant dose. It is a wonderful diuretic and is also good for skin elasticity.

Dominic Rivard

 Everything you imagine with good wine is just peace to your soul. Strawberry goes fairly off-track to add some health benefits to this fragmented drink called wine.

Who are the brains behind the wine dominated brand?

Sagar Parakhe: Wildberry Beverages Private Limited has been promoted by a group of businessmen and farmers from  Western  Maharashtra, India,  lead by Mr Sangramsingh Nalawade and me. We hit the Indian market on 5th  July 2011.

Mr Sangramsinh Nalawade has a wide experience in the food industry, has always maintained quality and integrity in his business deeds, by constantly motivating rural farmers and facilitating employment to the rural youth force. With his experience in the food industry, global vision and leadership quality Mr Nalawade brings in huge energy to Wild Berry.

Mr Sangramsinh Nalawade

A dream can be achieved with a desire and willpower, but it needs strong support and trust to make it easier. 

With the passion of working on fruit wine and with guided research and hard work on fruit processing they have achieved to introduce Indians first 100% pure fruit wine with the expertise of world-known winemaker Mr Dominic Rivard, He is a Canadian Winemaker, wine consultant, and the author of the Ultimate Fruit Winemaker’s Guide. He is also involved in the wine industry as an award-winning commercial winemaker, who is passionate about wines, especially of the “non-grape” variety.

Can the wine lovers be a part of your wine club, how?

Sagar Parakhe: Our wine club is currently closed but definitely we are coming with some good bang in the market and with some good offers and wine varieties in fruit wine. How to be a part of our wine club will be declared soon on the webpage and social media

 How is Wildberry motivating rural farmers and facilitating employment to the rural youth force?

Sagar Parakhe: We do have our own strawberry farms at Mahabaleshwar but the maximum time we are purchasing fruits from local farmers as per production requirements. Our products are mostly on a fruit season basis so we need onsite workers skilled and unskilled which we hire in local and nearby villages.

Leftover material after crushing any fruit is a very good source for natural fertiliser which we supply to all those farmers free of cost.

What are the big plans that Wildberry holds to dominate the wine business in India or foreign?

Sagar Parakhe: We have crafted a unique marketing policy for this wine. We have designed an attractive bottle and cork. We are launching our wine in Goa and Karnataka State within the next 3-4 months, we are already in talks with government authorities for both states. Our current capacity is 30,000 litres. We are in expansion for production capacity for 2,00,000 litre for the following products.

  1. Strawberry Wine (Still and Sparkling) Sparkling is in production.
  2. Pomegranate Wine (Still and Sparkling) Launching in 2-3 months
  3.  Honey Wine (Mead) (Still and Sparkling) 

There are 7 other products that are under the R&D level of the Wild Berry Lab department. All the upcoming wine and cider products are totally based on other fruits.

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