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A Wine Country State of Mind
According to the Wikipedia, Portuguese in the 16th century planted vineyards in Goa. Around the same time, the Persians planted Syrah (Shiraz), which attracted the British into entering the viticultural scene there. Under the British rule starting in the 1850s, more Indian wines were produced, and even showcased at international competitions. But the Phylloxera epidemic hit India, as it did to the other parts of the world and destroyed most of the vineyards.
However, with the beginning of the 1980s’ modern grape growing innovations, the global demand for wine, and international investments once again created a rapid rise in the Indian wine industry.
The tropical conditions throughout parts of India make it suitable for wine production. In regions such as Maharashtra and Karnataka in the south-western region of the country, due to the elevated landscape, favorable soil mix and vast difference between day and night temperatures, it is extremely suitable to produce good wine.
International winemakers working with local wine producers ensure quality control measures essential to wine production such as trellising methods, low yields, improved grape varietals and investigating pest control. Numerous international varieties are grown alongside indigenous ones and the styles range from dry to sweet to sparkling and fortified.
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Rise and Popularity
Around the 1980s, when the contemporary history of Indian wine started, well-known wineries such as Chateau Indage, Grover Vineyards and Sula Vineyards started experimenting with commercially grown vines in India. An investor from Bombay (now Mumbai), Sham Chougule sought to produce sparkling wines, mainly for export. His wine brand, Chateau Indage is generally credited with starting the quality wine industry in India in the 1980s and was until recently India’s largest wine producer, offering two sparkling wines, a pair of reds and two white wines.
Then came Grover vineyards, which was a collaboration between Kanwal Grover and George Vesselle, the then technical director of French wine company, Champagne Mumm. With the goal to bring Bordeaux to Bangalore, Grover vineyards successfully achieved its ambitious vision through its premium quality wines. Grover’s flagship wine, La Reservé has today gained immense international reputation and is receiving accolades at international forums. Following its recent merger with Nashik wine company, Vallée de Vin, it also ventured into the business of sparkling wines and super-premium wine varietals.
In the 1990s, Sula Vineyards, a project of Rajeev Samant put Nashik on the global wine map. A Stanford-trained engineer who quit his Silicon Valley job to return to India to follow an entrepreneurial path, Samant established Nashik’s first winery in 1999. The winery emerged as India’s largest wine producer after completing a decade in 2010 with 3 million bottles sold. Sula is today popular for its eco-friendly winemaking practices and excellent quality wines.
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Baseball cap/Fedora Hats
Cut to 2013, world-famous champagne company, Moët Hennessy started producing its famous ‘Chandon’ from grapes grown in the Nashik region. Chandon is the first offering from Moët Hennessy Estates & Wines to be produced in and especially for India.
While, most experts in the early 21st century observed that not all wineries could produce remarkable wine, a handful of dedicated boutique wineries focussed on building a brand based merely on quality.
A few names dominating the Indian wine industry presently, with their exceptional quality of wines are- Grover Zampa, Fratelli Wines, Reveilo Wines, Alpine Wineries, Vallonne Vineyards, Krsma Estates, and Sula Vineyards.
With the quality of wines being produced by winemakers in India today, many international wine companies have started setting up shops and are in talks with top-notch retailers to make their wines available. Wine consumption in the local markets shot up substantially in the past few years with ever growing awareness and demand for the drink according to various studies reported.
Modes of Transport
- Drive to a nearest vineyard by way of a prior appointment at the winery. Lunch is mostly included.
- Book a worthwhile tour through Wine Tour India.
So the next time you are heading to India for a vacation or to see a friend, do not hesitate to try out some of the different wines mentioned here. You might just be a tad bit surprised!