January  2008



From the current issue

 Art in Emerging India


 Top 3 TV Presenters
 George Alagiah
 Sanjay Gupta
 Mishal Husain

  Special Feature on
 Indian Wine

 Story of Indian Wines

 Top 3 Indian Wineries
 Chateau Indage
 Grover Vineyards

 Indian Wine

 Wine culture
 Wine 'rites' & pairing
 The right wine glass


Hot Wheels in India

 Lahore Gymkhana
 Cricket Club



 Films - Book Reviews
 Mr & Mrs Dutt

 Romancing with Life

 Maitreya Temple

 Mumbai Convocation
 Hall & Galle Hotel

 Altit Settlement


 Alpana Singh





 the print gallery

 the art gallery





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Indian Wines – the story so far

Special feature by The South Asian Life & Times

By Dev Duggal

Rising disposable incomes, easier regulations, and youth appeal have provided the Indian wine industry with a much needed momentum and put it on a bullish trajectory. The involvement of high-profile producers and wine-makers from the west has brought in the latest in wine technology. The domestic market, until now, had three dominant players - Chateau Indage, Grover Wines, and Sula. The most recent high-profile entrant into the industry is Vintage Wine, with their brand Reveilo.

Wine drinking is not new to India. One of the celestial beings that emerged from ‘Samudra Manthan’ or the churning of the ocean was the Goddess Sura – the goddess of wine. The rest as they say is history.

Acharya Panini (nothing to do with the Florentine hot grilled sandwich), the 5th century BC grammarian, wrote of fine wine from Kapisa (now identified as Begram in Afghanistan). There have been archaeological discoveries of wine jars and drinking cups at this site. The varietal grown here was Kapiśayani Draksha.

Greeks exported wine to India – Ujjain was a great wine-drinking city. The Mughals had an obsession for good wine and supposedly made their own. Emperor Jahangir supported a vibrant wine culture. Shah Jahan’s daughter Jahan Ara, a lady of refined tastes, wrote good poetry and "…we are told, made her own wine!" She may well have been the first Woman Master Sommelier of India!

Louis Gaspard d'Estournel, also known as the Maharajah of Saint-Estèphe, exported his best wines, amongst other countries, to India in 17th century. More recently, Singapore Airlines’ A380 inaugural flight on October 25th to Sydney served Chateau Cos d'Estournel 1982 to its First Class guests. (It retails at $660 a bottle!).

"Under British influence vineyards in Kashmir and at Baramati in Maharashtra had turned out wines good enough to draw compliments from visitors to the Great Calcutta Exhibition of 1884. The revival of Indian wine takes up where the British left off in the 1890s when phylloxera wiped out India's vineyards, just as it had in Europe."

Today is a different story. There are four major wine producing regions in India – Nashik and Sangli in Maharashtra, Bangalore in Karnataka, and Himachal Pradesh. The Nashik region is often referred to as the NAPA Valley of India.

The top three wine producers – Indage, Grover, and Sula – are family-owned businesses that started because of their founders’ sheer passion for wine. Vintage Wines - the promising new winery is also a family venture.

There are other notables waiting in the wings - Ranjit Dhuru (Chairman and CEO Aftek Infosys, and also passionate about wine) set up his 84-acre Cabernet Vineyards in the Dindori region of Nashik in 2000. He should be launching his first wines sometime soon. "I’m in no hurry. Let the market stabilize…As palates develop, people won’t drink anything so the industry will see a shakeout," says Dhuru.

Jerry Rao (CEO MphasiS BFL), with the help of Grover Vineyards, is planting grapes at his Nandi Hills farm in Bangalore.

Industrialist Vijay Mallya last year acquired Bouvet Ladubay, the leading Saumur sparkling wine company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Taittinger CCVC. Bouvet Ladubay has more than 156 years experience in winemaking. According to Dr. Vijay Mallya, "The Saumur-based Company is our first acquisition in France. We are committed to developing Bouvet’s great brands internationally, including the emerging markets where we have a strong presence."

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