The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

An Indian Cabernet?

Rahul Chandran
Sunday, October 27, 2002
Rahul Chandran
TECHNICALLY, INDIA DOES not have the climate for making premium wines. But Sham Chougule is not one to be bothered by technicalities. Defying critics, he went on to make the sparkling stuff in a country where liquor is generally frowned upon. And, in the process, he has given the French-traditionally, the world's finest wine-makers-a run for their money.

Chougule has lived the classic rags-to-riches story. Born into a small rural family, Sham Chougule founded a steel fabrication company called Indage (short for Industrial Age) in 1967. In order to stay afloat, the company branched out into civil construction-and it was this off-shoot business that exposed the Chougule family to the virtues of wine.

"In the early eighties, we won a contract to construct a defense site for the royal family of Qatar. While we were involved in that project, our capital bankers were based in France. Twice a month, we would fly to France to discuss the capital outlay for the project with the bank. After each meeting, the Frenchmen would uncork a bottle of wine. That was the inspiration for our venture," says Ranjit Chougule, chief operating officer of Chateau Indage.

Uncharted territory
What an elegant way to lose money, it might seem! From the planting of the first vines to the production of the final product-a bottle of bubbly-takes an average of four years. And, during these first four years, a start-up wine maker keeps accruing overhead costs. To make matters worse, money does not start pouring in as soon as the first batch of grapes has been turned into wine-profits won't be seen for another couple of years. And through these years, the wine maker has to support himself and his staff in hopes that his wine attracts the sensitive palates of connoisseurs.

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