“To be called a pioneer, it is a long route filled with hard work,perseverance and patience”
Sonal Holland does not mince words when she says that being a pioneer means to have a vision for the future of the entire industry. Sonal, who holds the coveted position of ‘Master of Wine’, is the first Indian to be conferred with the prestigious global title. Sonal holds one of those unique roles in the country that makes her India’s foremost wine voice, a wine entrepreneur, an inspiring leader, a role model for women and an opinion-maker on lifestyle and luxury.
Before laying the stones to build a nonpareil wine industry in the country, Sonal was the director of national sales for a US based Fortune 500 company, “There came a point in my life where I felt that the job was not doing full justice to my personal aspirations. So I started looking for ways to reinvent myself. While looking through other possible industries, I became aware of the fact that the wine industry in India is at a very nascent stage and there was a growing demand for good wine in the country. However, there was a total lack of awareness about wine. Moreover, there was a lack of qualified professionals in the field who would be in the business of consultancy or entrepreneurship of wine. So I envisioned that the industry is likely to grow and there would come a time where there would be a need for qualified wine professionals. So I decided to take on that role. It was a strategic well thought out decision, it wasn’t just by fluke.”
The journey so far has been very rewarding, says Sonal. “The good thing about being a pioneer in any industry is that you obviously get to be the first. The downside is that you have to build the industry. One must have a visionary stance and should be able to convince other people who are stakeholders in the industry to make them realise the importance of what you are doing. I find myself doing that everyday, even now!”
Sonal proudly says that if she were to advise her younger self who has just joined the industry she would say the same thing she actually did back then, “To be called a pioneer, it is a long route filled with hard work,perseverance and patience.”
When it comes to overcoming challenges Sonal believes in being very optimistic. “India has a very distorted relationship with anything to do with alcohol. We don’t cut any slack towards wine, and the laws are very complex. So doing any business in this industry is like taking four steps forward and two steps backward. It is not a linear fast growth and one needs to remain very optimistic.”