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How I Made It
Yatin Patil
Director, Vintage Wines

His father grew grapes. He is at the helm of a leading wine company that produces more than 100 tonnes of wine a year. Yatin Patil, director of Vintage Wines, never shirked from meeting challenges head-on. And, with the help and support of wife Kiran, he has been successful in bringing out Reveilo, the costliest wine brand in India. “The first challenge Reveilo faced was being included on the winelists of leading hotels in the country, as it was a new brand,” says Patil. But for a man who thrives on challenges, no obstacle could be big enough.

Born in a small village in Ahmednagar, Gujarat, Patil moved to Mumbai for his education. He did his schooling from St Xavier’s High School, Fort. “Besides consistently being amongst the top five in class, I represented my school in football and cricket.” Patil was part of the Under-14 and Under-16 Mumbai teams and won the Best Sportsman of the Year in 1989. He completed BCom in 1994 from Narsee Monjee College. “My tryst with cricket continued, and I represented my college for all five years and also led the team for the final two years.”

One might wonder why this man did not take up cricket as a career. “I had to make a choice between education and cricket. As I did not want to neglect my studies, I did not take up cricket as a profession,” he says. “Moreover, the chance to make a name in cricket is low and you would be lucky to reach even the state team. I decided to play safe.”

During his college days, Patil also met wife Kiran, who has been beside him ever since and now looks after the sales and marketing division of Vintage Wines. “By the time I graduated, I also developed a liking for finance, which prompted me to pursue MBA in finance from Chetana’s Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai.” What attracted him to finance? “You can say I had a natural flair. I was interested in the market. The entire system fascinated me.”

Patil spent the first six years of his career with companies like Ion Exchange and Ceat before turning entrepreneur. “We have an ancestral landholding of about 200 acres of table grapes. Secondly, my wife Kiran and I had the desire to create something of our own,” he says.

The 200 acres were already growing quality table grapes. “We planted the wine variety of grapes for the first time in 2000,” says Patil. At that time there were just a few suitable varieties of grapes available in India and the process of importing them was quite complicated.

“We started off by planting four varieties that were already present in the Indian market. We then tied up with our Italian consultants, which was also a strategic move. In India, till then, no one had Italian consultants, most were collaborating with French consultants.”

As in any business, capital proved to be the major hurdle. Having the land was a big advantage and setting up the vineyard was comparatively hassle-free. “With respect to the winery, we wanted the best plant and machinery from day one. We made a significant investment in importing the entire plant and machinery from Italy, including a fully automatic bottling plant.” Garnering funds for this investment was the biggest hurdle as it had to wait for two years.

Patil’s business principle is “be honest in every facet of life — it will hold you in good stead in the long run”. He would like to build a brand which people can rely on and have faith in. He believes there is healthy competition in the wine industry. “This means growing awareness among the customers as well as the need for wine brands to strive to deliver higher quality wines,” he says.

His wife and two children, aged six and two, are what keep him going. “I enjoy playing with them and cooking for them. Besides, I have a voracious appetite for reading. I also enjoy all kinds of music.”

Going forward, Vintage Wines plans to introduce new grape varieties at the vineyard and create a range of high-quality wines. “We plan to expand our presence to all the eight metros and aim to be present in all the key premium hotels and restaurants in these markets.” Cheers to that. Or should one say salute?

Based on a conversation with Devlina Ganguly in Calcutta

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