Sonal holland Told some things to always remember his late father – “Do what you want to do in life, and do it better than others.” Try to be the best at what you do. ”
This is a mantra that she definitely performs.
Sonal, 47, India’s first and only master of wine, Which is an iconic title in the wine world; Sonal Holland Wine Academy, The founder of India’s first alcohol education institution; Soho Wine Club; India Wine Awards; And a retail outlet for wine business Vine2Wine
Talking about pioneering initiatives in India, Sonal told YourStory, “One of the great things about being in a market like India is that I see it as a blank canvas. If I compare my market with the international market, I feel very lacking here. I found this a great board for me that I needed to show the picture to anyone. Therefore, most of my ventures have come on the market first. ”
From Corporate Life to Master of Wine
Before Sonal ventured into the wine industry, she worked with a NASDAQ-listed Fortune 500 company as Sales and Marketing Director. However, she felt that the job did not do justice to his skill set and personality.
She quit the job in 2007 after working for seven years and began to find a new career path. She says she was looking for a sunrise industry where she could actually become a pioneer, as her father said.
She read an article online by a well-known UK-based wine critic and it caught his attention – she found his Sunrise industry.
Sonal says, “If I enter this industry soon, I can take a real shot at being the head of someone, I can be seen as a leader with sports initiatives.”
She says that at that time the wine industry in India was with only a handful of wine producers, who imported very few wines. There were ample opportunities in the industry and Sonal took advantage and strategically chose the industry.
“It is like an orange marriage,” Sonal said about the decision to jump headlong in the wine industry without liking the wine.
However, this did not deter her, and she went to London to study wine at the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, a premier educational institution dedicated to wine and spirits.
It was here that Sonal fell in love with Vine and did not look back. While taking these primary courses, she set his place on becoming India’s first Master of Wine.
The toughest test in the world
The Institute of Master of Wine in London There is a membership organization whose members are called Masters of Wine. To be able to become a member and win the prestigious title, Sonal “One of the toughest exams in the world” Had to go through. Since the start of the exam in 1953, around 400 people from 30 countries have passed the exam which is divided into three categories – Theory, Blind Test Testing and a Research Paper.
Sonal had to give four attempts to pass blind testing, where one has to taste 36 wines under hard pressure, identify where the wine is coming from, what is the grape variety, how is it made, quality, wine Business capacity etc.
“I started studying in 2007 and became Master of Wine in 2016,” says Sonal.
For the cause of wine
Sonal says, “I am not interested in winemaking. I always knew that I wanted to be in the liquor business.”
In 2009, two years into his introductory courses in wine, he founded the Sonal Holland Wine Academy, India’s first and oldest wine education institute, which helps hospitality professionals become wine specialists. She recently started an online course, 60 Minutes Wine Pro, for wine enthusiasts and hospitality professionals.
When he started the academy a decade ago, the wine industry was so new that people did not understand the need for alcohol education.
“The advantage of being first is that you are recognized as a leader. The disadvantage of being the first is that you have to build the market, because you have to spend time making people understand why it is important.”
She is also a consultant for luxury hotels and food establishments.
To further the wine cause, in 2016, she started the Soho Wine Club, a consumer-led forum – hosting tasting events, dinners, and experiences for wine lovers. From his Masters of Wine Research paper, she tied up with UK-based Consumer Research Wine Intelligence and launched India Wine Insider, a comprehensive research survey on the urban Indian wine consumer.
In 2017, he also launched the India Wine Awards, which annually awards both local and international wines the best wines in the country. It also ranks restaurants for their wine lists and events.
In the same year, he launched his retail wine store Vine2Wine, so that consumers could have an international and luxurious experience of purchasing wine. The service was poor in many retail outlets in India with no proper storage or knowledgeable staff. She wanted to refill liquor shops abroad which gave customers a great experience with recommendations, tasting events and more.
His retail brand has over 300 labels of liquor ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 50,000. In just one year, she opened three stores in Mumbai and Bengaluru. She started the first retail store with an investment of Rs 1 crore and was able to return the capital in just 4 months.
Business in the Corona Epidemic
Like most other businesses, the coronavirus epidemic has also affected Sonal’s ventures.
Soho Wine Club has been brought to a complete standstill and Sonal does not see any future events. Her classroom training has also stopped as part of the liquor academy. The annual Wine Awards gala event is to be shifted online this year.
“Any kind of adversity doesn’t really change your course of action, it helps you bring out or carry all your ideas,” towards their efforts to digitize Vine Courses and expand digital engagement Pointing, he said.
During the lockdown, she Francis Ford Coppola, Godfather Director of the film, Dominic West, Acclaimed series The wire and affair Of The actor And Gagan Anand and Garima Arora Has conducted several webinars, masterclasses and “live” with renowned chefs such as Adi.
Their retail business has also been affected, but the entire inventory was sold in just one-and-a-half days when stores were allowed to open in Mumbai and closed again. However, the government’s decision to allow home delivery has come as a boon. One step she hopes the lockdown will continue.