Wine has airs about it — served with fine cheese at arty soirees and swirled and twirled before being savoured. Now, two former techies are trying to make wine more a fun and affordable drink, pitting it directly against strong beer.
Sourced from farmers
Through their brand, Rockclimber, the duo has launched crafted wine coolers, a new category that lies at the intersection of wine, beer and the ‘ready-to-drink’ cocktails.
The beverage is vinified from locally grown fruits, sourced directly from farmer communities, and offered to consumers with infusions and fizz.
Comparing wine to beer might seem sacrilegious, but Deepak Poduval, founder of Cult Fitness, and Hariprasad Shetty, former CEO of an infrastructure development company that specialises in green technology, who have set up the start-up, Red Sun and Black Rock Beverages, believe that there should be no rules on who should drink and how one consumes it.
“Our effort is to come up with a brand that makes a shift from the snobbery associated with wine drinking to making it refreshing, fun and available for all,” says Poduval.
“Hence, their brand, Rockclimber wine coolers come in a pint-sized beer bottle, are carbonated and cover the entire spectrum from 6 per cent to 15 per cent alcohol v/v.
One of the reasons wine has not taken off in India, Poduval says, is its high price and the way it needs to be consumed in a certain manner. “Why are we trying to push an Italian or a French wine down the throats of Indians? Hence, we created these crafted wine cooler recipes, which combine the traditional winemaking process and reach a point where it gets carbonated and is packaged in a beer bottle,” he says.
The start-up has a portfolio of all crafted wine coolers, mixers and wine beverages made by a team of Indian and international winemakers and drinks scientists.
Both the founders are positioning Rockclimber as an alternative to beer, especially the strong beer. “We are addressing the mass segment at around ₹120 compared to ₹650 per bottle of wine available in the market,” points out Poduval.
It is a big ask as the founders are not only trying to wean away beer drinkers, but also trying to woo the traditional wine drinkers.
The start-up recently raised around $1 million from an angel investor in a Pre-Series A round, and expects to raise another $6 million later. The wine brand is currently available in Maharashtra, Goa and Punjab, and will soon be available in six other States.
The company is currently at a monthly sales of about 10,000 cases, which roughly translates to a run-rate of ₹1.5-2 crore. With the current production, channel partners and team in place, the target is to post revenue in excess of ₹100 crore in the first three years.
It is over to the Indian palate to decide whether to raise a toast to the ubiquitous beer or to a brand of wine that is trying to be one.