Italian winemakers first to invest in India: company

NEW DELHI, December 22, 2009 (AFP) – Two Italian winemakers have become the first foreign producers to invest directly in India, seeking to tap into a growing taste for the drink in the emerging market, their Indian partner said Tuesday. Riona Wines, based in the western Indian state of Maharastra, the country’s grape-growing centre, told AFP it had signed investment agreements with Italian vintners Moncaro and Enzo Mecella on Monday.

The two Italian companies, based in the region of Marche, have taken a 17-percent stake each in Riona in exchange for machinery and total investment of 42.5 million dollars to be made by 2010.

“This is the first time a foreign company is joining hands with an Indian winery to produce and sell wine,” marketing director of Riona Wines, Hansraj Ahuja told AFP.

They aim to produce and market six varieties of red and white wines for the Indian market by October 2010.

“We have sold a significant stake of our company to produce the finest quality of wine in India,” Ahuja said.

The Indian market is currently dominated by two manufacturers, Sula and Grover, which produce red, white and sparkling wines from their vineyards in western and southern India.

Though Indian growers h