The Power Of Grit: Minnie Menon

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Jewellery designer, socialite, philanthropist and now the President of Terroir – The Madras Wine Club, Minnie Menon has added one more feather to her colourful hat. Minnie, who is now on mission Terroir, speaks to RITZ about her passion, love for jewelry, her recent responsibility and what it took to get in there.

As the new President of Terrior – The Madras Wine Club, what are your plans for the club?

I was nominated President in mid-January 2020; the club had entered the new decade. Yes, there are expectations from the founders and members of the club. I have given myself a mandate to selectively and systematically enhance the membership of the club by cutting across age groups and business profiles. We have already progressed in that direction. Terroir was born to be a sanctuary for wine enthusiasts and wine connoisseurs to come together for fellowship. I am concentrating on building on that base.

What was the reception of your first event of the year ‘The Long Table’?

My first event as President with the new committee was attended by 24 elegantly attired members/guests. It was the first time in its 11 years history that Terroir held an outdoor dinner. It was a formal sit down dinner at Aqua, the poolside of The Park. The pleasant weather on February 16th was ideal for a night under the stars. Terroir‘s core members, 3 Consul Generals and a couple of invitees who comprised the guest list unanimously agreed that the venue, the setting, the Italian wines paired 4-course gourmet dinner was the perfect roll out as the opening event of Terroir for 2020. Objectively speaking I believe we set a standard for ourselves to follow.

What are the changes and innovations you have, to promote wine appreciation in the city?

Well, my responsibility and authority are confined to Terroir, if there is a spillover effect, that’s great! The challenge is to bring in differently curated events with ‘learnings’ for our members. If that popularizes our club and enhances wine appreciation among a larger cross-section in the city, the committee and I would be delighted.

With wine clubs flourishing in cities like Bangalore and other major metros, Chennai was noticeably lagging, was it so traditional a society that there was not enough interest in the subject for people to get together and form a club?

On the contrary No. Terroir was founded in mid-2009 by 4 gentlemen who initially enjoyed ‘nosing’ their wines and discussing the floral and fruity flavors of their varietals among themselves. One day in June 2009 I was fortunate to receive a formal letter of invitation to this exclusive club for the launch event that was held at the Pavilion at the Taj Coromandel. It certainly created a ripple. The first few years we 30 odd members experienced some exciting events like The Steven Spurrier Night, The Wines From Napa Valley event, a wine-centric film called ‘Bottle Shock’. There were also huge learning from sommeliers and exposure to this exciting world of wines and viticulture. I guess the club was ‘media-shy’, though some of the prestigious events did get great coverage. The founding committee kept membership rules very stringent.

Do you think there will be more wine enthusiasts in the city with the launch of National wine brands like Sula in the state?

The government’s move to give the go-ahead for the availability of Sula wines in TASMAC stores across Tamilnadu is a progressive one. Now good Indian wines will be available across the counter to people in the city and surrounding areas. The price point also will make it more accessible to people. I attended the Sula wine launch event and the 6 wine varietals they had on offer were very impressive.

Current statistics reveal that Mumbai and Delhi constitute 50 % of the wine consumption in India and Bangalore contributes another 20%. I believe these statistics could change now. Some members of the younger and older generation look at wine as their preferred choice. I guess travel, exposure to different foods and cultures across the world contribute to this. I look forward to Terroir hosting events with Sula, Grover and other Indian wineries that have come of age and have our popular vote.

From the jewellery designer to the President of Terrior over the years you have donned many hats. What is the secret behind all this?

This is a question I am asked by people I meet and at every interview! I believe my many years of experience in advertising, nurturing brands and sports marketing is a great building block. I love challenging myself and when opportunities come my way I take it on the front foot. However please remember being a jewellery designer is my business! Being President of Terroir, a steering committee member of Care 4 Chendamangalam a group dedicated to the upliftment of a society of lady handloom weavers in Kerala and a council member of Tamil Nadu Tennis Association inducted by the President Vijay Amritraj is my honorary work for society and the community. Friends say I inject the same passion into everything I do, and I agree with that!

Your brand MM Jewellery turned 6 recently and has been launching exclusive collection now so did you have any special jewellery collection for women’s day?

Yes, my bespoke brand of semi-precious jewellery turned 6 recently. Normally I have a glitzy fashion and cocktail event with a display of my new collection in a star hotel for 170 guests. This is followed by an exhibition and sale a few days later. This goes like a tracer bullet. This year due to the pandemic COVID-19 that changed our lives and our priorities are different I have kept it on hold. My new, inspired Minnie Menon collection is ready but will be unveiled in happier and safer times.

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