Vinho Fontainhas is the revival of the Port Wine in the premium segment of the new generation spirit and it is a venture spearheaded by two Goan youths Tanishq Palyekar and Reuben Ramos. Both the lads in their mid 20s having a background in engineering and food & hospitality decided to enter into the unexplored market of the premium port wine which is considered to be a Goan Wine that is being used for decades to celebrate the spirit of festivals.
“Vinho” means Wine in Portuguese and we wanted to capture the Nostalgia of Goa,” said Tanishq adding that the idea Vinho Fontainhas occurred to both of them as they wanted to create something colourful. “Fontainhas is the only Latin Quarter located at Goa, India. This, in particular, is associated with Portugal and the Portuguese and this is something we went ahead with,” said Reuben.
According to them, the Port Wine concept is not new but there is no premium brand in this segment. “All the other Wine Bottles and especially the GOAN PORT Wines that we see in the Market usually look dull with no vibrant colours and they have pretty standard labels with no uniqueness into it,” they said adding “We wanted to bring the Goan culture back as we felt it was slowly dying out, and in order make an attempt to preserve that we thought this would be an ideal step.
This is the age of start-ups and young minds always look for something out of the box and most of them are attracted towards the IT side but Tanishq and Reuben decided to do something different, something related to the spirits of Goa. “It was essentially the idea of Tanishq, who thought that both of us could do something related to this segment which is unexplored and since we had a background together in this FnB Industry on my family side and Tanishq comes from a Background of being an Engineer,” said Reuben.
According to Tanishq and Reuben, they decided to enter into the Wine market as the market for Whisky, Rum and Vodka were already saturated hence they decided to tap the Port Wine Market in the premium segment. “After we decided we wanted to create something together, the first thing we did was started working on the packaging because the branding and marketing mattered a lot,” said Reuben adding, In order to be ahead of the others, this is really important and this is what catches people’s eyes. “The quality might be good, but people won’t know if it is not branded effectively. If you see the label of the bottle, it is a hand-painted art which was designed specially by an artist in Goa. We then used this to blend it in with the other parts of the label, and created the final output of the artwork with this.”
The product was finalised and packaging and branding were also finished, now the main challenge was identifying the professional distillery. “We had to tie up with a professional distillery, and we wanted the process to be done in the right way and as close to the original ways of making the Port Wine,” said Reuben adding that Production of the 1st batch started in September 2021, and because of COVID-19 we got delayed but still managed to keep the production of the batch on track.
After the production was finalised the next step was to identify the retailer who will sell the brand to the consumers. “We had identified a few retailers, and started keeping the product on their shelves,” said Tanishq. “We wanted to showcase our product at well-known retailers since it is a premium port wine hence after getting on the shelf in some well know places tourist spots in North Goa we decided to focus on Panaji city and “Tom’s Wine” became our first choice for Vinho Fontainhas in the capital city. This was officially the 1st place we started off with and for a very long time, it was only exclusively available at Tom’s Wine Panaji. The response towards the wine was pretty good and we were quite happy with it too, after which we started placing the same at various other outlets around Goa,” he added.
According to Reuben now they are looking to enter into the hotel industry which is very vast in Goa. “Our next step is to tie up with the hotels and we are currently supplying to the Hotel ITC Fortune Miramar, and they use VINHO FONTAINHAS by placing it in the Minibars of every room of their hotel. After this we are targeting the restaurants and other such establishments where we are placing the same,” said Reuben adding that the growth is quite exponential in a very short span of time. “People have started picking up the bottle from shelves. “The placed like K-Bar, Joseph’s Bar, Whiskey’s Bar where the response is really positive, and the orders for the batches come in quickly as they go through the bottles quite fast. We had patrons who initially bought 12 bottles in the start and after this when they got in touch with us they said they would now prefer 2 cases.”
Currently, Vinho Fontainhas is available only in 375ml bottles. “This is mainly done because we wanted to keep it unique, ergonomically easy to carry around bottles. All the other wine bottles that you see is have two sizes, the small and the big size and here we wanted to be different. Even when the Hotel wants to place the bottles in their rooms it would be easier and when the customers purchase the bottle they can do so with much ease of carrying it around too. People are more open to trying out the Wine when it’s a smaller bottle. Another reason is consumption which is time-based for the wine and smaller bottles make the job easier,” he said.
“There are essentially 3 types of Wine, Sweet, Semi-Dry and Dry,” said Reuben adding, Usually Goan Port Wines aren’t quite authentic and come under the Sweet Category and the Authentic Port Wine comes between the Category of Semi-Dry and Dry, and Vinho Fontainhas comes under this. “There’s a little bit of sweetness, and there are a lot of consumers who want to try out Wines and when they directly go for Red Wine there are chances they might not quite like it as it’s an acquired taste and this is where Port Wine comes and can be the entry into the Wine side of things.”
“We are looking to tap into the younger segment who is just starting into the Sangria and Vinho Fontainhas is the best available option for Sangria. We have already tried this at a few places, and the response for the Sangria has been overwhelmingly good,” they said.
“Quality wise, Vinho Fontainhas is definitely a much better option than the other wines available in Goa. We utilize a natural process in the making of this wine, whereas the other people don’t utilize this process. If you try tasting those wines, they aren’t dealing with the Quality side of things,” said Tanishq who is also taking care of the production. “In Goa, Port wine has an overall lukewarm reputation because of these underlying issues over the years and here we are trying to reduce this image by being natural in our method and having more quality as compared to anybody else in the market,” he added.
Vinho Fontainhas is packaged into a glass bottle compared to the other port wines that are made available in plastic bottles. “This shows in the quality of the wine, the taste and the packaging too. We don’t go with plastic bottles as it’s anyways bad for the environment, so our bottle is premium glass and this way we made sure we put in the hard work to make our product stand out even with the hand-painted label,” said Tanishq.
Reuben and Tanishq believes that since they are new to the business they wanted to maintain the quality and make sure it remains consistent for a long time. “We want to see that the same quality is maintained throughout whether the wine is bought now or bought after 1 year. We want to maintain the Taste and the Quality of the same, and as we move forward we will make a few more improvements to the same in terms of packaging being, even more, premium, or utilizing newer ideas, etc,” said Reuben.
Vinho Fontainhas has completed 6 months into the market in the month of January. The things were quite down because of COVID related restraints, and the response was quite low. Keeping all this in mind, we still feel we have a long journey ahead of us in terms of growth and the market, and we are still at a very young and hopeful stage too so our concentration is on this product. Maybe as time goes by, we will surely consider diversifying more,” said Tanishq.
Image Credits – Vinho Fontainhas