London: A UK-based Indian wine maker has bagged the bronze medal in the International Wine Challenge (IWC) here. Soul Tree’s win for its Sauvignon Blanc 2015 makes it the only Indian wine to win an award in the latest round of the challenge held this week.
“We are pleased that the belief in the wine and the brand demonstrated by consumers and the wine trade alike has been endorsed by one of the most credible bodies in the world of wine,” said Alok Mathur, co-founder of Soul Tree. The IWC is widely regarded as one of the world’s finest and most meticulously judged competition, with each medal- winning wine tasted blind on three separate occasions by at least 10 different judges.
With over 800 listings across restaurants, hotels, bars and pubs in the UK, Soul Tree is among the biggest selling Indian wines in the UK’s on-premise sector and has a growing international presence in Europe and North America. The company made headlines earlier this year when it smashed its equity crowd-funding target on the UK’s largest online equity platform Crowdcube. The business exceeded its 350,000 pounds target with investments coming from 218 investors from 18 different countries in the funding round which concluded in February 2015.
Soul Tree joined an exclusive club of a very limited number of wine businesses in the world to successfully raise money through crowdfunding. Soul Tree’s winemaker Rajesh Rasal said: “Most of the world’s established wine regions have been producing wines for centuries. The Indian wine industry is very young, however, seeing a revival in the 1990s but only building any momentum worth speaking about after the turn of the century.
“A lot has gone into making it happen, including not just borrowing from international best practices and applying them to the unique soils, climate, and conditions in India, but also in having the keenest eye possible on the production of good fruit with minimal intervention to produce wines that are a true reflection of the region.”
The company feels that the over 6,000 licensed Indian restaurants in the UK are a natural home for its wines. “We have been adding around 10-15 new Indian restaurant listings for our wines per week. At this rate it will take us around four years to cover the UK Indian restaurant market,” said Gorvinder Butter, head of sales at Soul Tree.
The business, set up in 2009 by two Oxford University graduate – Alok Mathur and Melvin D’Souza, was born out of a belief in India as among the most promising emerging regions for wine.