Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Why Kapil Sekhri believed in the wine-in-a-can concept: Fratelli's Gaurav Sekhri

Fratelli Wines director Gaurav Sekhri on why launching wine in a can, a project his late brother Kapil Sekhri believed in, makes sense and how the pandemic has seen young and old enjoying wines together

Published: Dec 19, 2020 08:37:37 AM IST
Updated: Mar 17, 2021 04:52:09 PM IST

Why Kapil Sekhri believed in the wine-in-a-can concept: Fratelli's Gaurav Sekhri

The first vintages of Fratelli Wines India were launched in 2010 and a decade later, in October 2020, they launched TiLT, a wine in a can, just days after 45-year-old Kapil Sekhri, one of the six brothers who founded the company, died of a cardiac arrest.

While the global canned wines market size is expected to reach USD 155.1 million by 2027, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc., the product category is very new to India.

But Kapil wanted to launch hassle-free wines here to get the young to love and appreciate wine and knock off the snobbery associated with the drink. Despite a weak market, they persisted and launched TiLT – for “Tilt your perspective” this year to honour Kapil.

Tilt — is available in four variants (red, white, rosé, and bubbly, all 250 ml cans, priced at a pocket-friendly ₹180 to ₹200).

Fratelli Wines director and Kapil’s brother Gaurav Sekhri tells Forbes India what a roller coaster ride 2020 has been for the family-run company and the Indian wine market.

Q. How would you evaluate 2020 for your business?
2020 has been a year of unknowns. A year where you think on your feet, adjusting and adapting to all the uncertainties. For us as a business, the biggest unknown challenge and reality we had to face was the passing away of my brother, Kapil, whose vision shaped Fratelli—a story of six brothers.  This year reminded us of what's most valuable and goes beyond business.

Q. What were the biggest challenges and achievements of Fratelli Wines this year?
The biggest challenge has been the loss of Kapil. The biggest achievement has been the launch of TiLT, our most ambitious and disruptive launch so far. It has been in the making for the past three years.

This year, the launch was fast-tracked with a wish to contribute towards resolving the crisis that dawned upon local farmers in this pandemic. The wine is locally produced in Maharashtra with grapes cultivated by farmers in Baramati, Sholapur, Nashik and Sangli. It has been crushed, fermented and blended at our vineyards. 

Also, we are proud to be truly vocal for local, and consumers are appreciating our wines born from Indian terroir with more confidence than before. 

This year, we also launched Fratelli Cheese by collaborating with Chennai-based artisanal cheesemaker Kase. We have a special curation of three locally produced varieties, Gusto, Sunburst and Cheddar, made with raw A2 milk. These are free of any preservatives, additives, or emulsifiers and perfectly complement our wines. 

Moreover, Kase’s cheeses are made by specially abled women, which matches one of Fratelli’s missions -- to empower women. We also employ 70 per cent women in our vineyards.

Q. Which industry trend surprised you in the year?
In India, the younger members of the family don’t drink in front of their elders. But in the pandemic, both young and old enjoyed their wines together, which was great to see. Retail sales also went up and TiLT got a heart-warming response from Tier-II and III cities.

Q. What is the most important lesson that you learnt this year?
As a team at Fratelli Wines, we learned to never give up despite the challenges. Right up until September, Kapil had a choice to delay the launch of TiLT. That was an easy decision to make. But he believed that we could push through it and we did and launched our canned wines in October. 

On the farm front, we learnt that opting for simple and effective steps that have stood the test of time is the way forward. These steps include opting for organic manure over synthetic fertilisers, mulching techniques that retain moisture and timely pruning to avoid sprays that control fungicides. 

Q. What will be the five big wine consumption trends in India next year?

  • The consumers are ready to experiment, and the demand for convenience is at an all-time high. Therefore, wine-in-a-can (WIC) as a category, will grow.
  • The popularity of rosé will soar as both men and women enjoy it.
  • #VocalForLocal campaign will be further emphasised upon.
  • More consumers will enjoy wines at home. 
  • Even young consumers will appreciate and drink wines.

Q. How do you predict the next year to be for the Indian wine industry?
The next year will be about easy-to-drink wines in cans for the young, for those new to wine, but also led by occasion. As consumers have become more health conscious, vegan, gluten-free wines will be in demand and they will also be conscious of where the raw material of the wine is grown and how. These factors will also dictate their consumption choices.