John Worontschak, the globally renowned winemaker who revolutionized English wines has now set foot in India… Terroir India Wineries Pvt. Ltd. provided him the right means to do so. The winery is ready with its brand – Indus Wines. IndianWine.com gets a whiff of what’s brewing, from one of its directors, Violet Dsouza…(on picture 1)
While all bubbly about the venture which has John sniffing in India, Violet shares how Abhijit Kabir, Sachin Khanolkar and herself, its three directors, made the shift from busy Mumbai to serene vineyards in village Mumbri, Igatpuri, Nashik. Despite a turnover of 100 crore in the construction business, Siddhi Vinayak Constructitions Pvt. Ltd., the young entrepreneurs itched for greener horizons, literally! “Knowing that 70% of Indians still live off agriculture, we thought of finding a green niche for ourselves,” shares Violet, adding, “we had researched everything from jams to juices, when Abhijit read a news headline piping on it being the dawn of the wine industry in India…” Bingo!
From there rose the mission to create the best Indian wines, ensued by a search for the best professionals. “Unlike Europe which has a history of over 2 millennia in winemaking, the industry is still in its infancy here,” reasons Violet, for enlisting the guidance of legendary winemaker John Worontschak and Australian viticulturist Richard Smart. Richard is the man of choice for his special interest in Indian terroir. He has over 200 books under his pen, which is an added advantage, she informs.
The start came in July 2005, when land was chosen and bought in the backdrop of the Sahyadris, facing Lake Mukni near NH3, Mumbai-Agra highway. Mumbri – the tribal village at Igatpuri, Nashik, has long subsisted on a single annual crop of paddy. “Now that Terroir India sponsors grape cultivation here, the profits are showing on smiles on village folk here,” says a jubilant Violet, even as she prepares to go global next year with Indus Wines. “Asia is a huge emerging market for wine. In January 2008, we begin promotions for China,” says the cheerful lady.
Asia is huge no doubt, but what about Terroir India’s production capacity, one is apt to ask? “We have a 150,000 litre capacity winery, and that’s not all,” smiles Violet, “the winery itself is a five storeyed beauty, tucked away into the slopes of two hills at the estate. It is as per John’s liking – a gravity-flow winery, a rarity in Asia, leave alone India!”
A gravity-flow winery, which is a natural booster for the quality of wine sounds good! Do we see a wiser lot in India’s second generation of wine entrepreneurs? Why not, says Violet, “When we want Indian wine to be recognized, we nurture it from scratch.” Brand India, of course!
While so much is going into the making of Indian terroir to distinguish Indus wines, label graphics and the choice of bottles is also important. The finest bottles imported from St Dobain are used instead of the cheaper Sri Lankan or Indian bottles. A Bordeax bottle for Indus Wines’ sauvignon Blanc, a flute for Chenin Blanc, and a Burgundy bottle for Cabernet Shiraz compliment the wine, Violet adds. The labels again are imported.
It is obvious that Terroir India Pvt. Ltd. is leaving nothing to chance. Needless to say, the market looks good so why shy from showcasing the best. “As more states are opening up on their wine policy to emulate Maharashtra’s success, the domestic market is getting bigger by the day. Delhi, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamilnadu…,” Violet ticks off.
Wine in India is catching fast, she adds decisively. So it is time that Indian terroir got due recognition in the wine circles, glocally. “Our wines are selling by word of mouth,” shares Violet, riding high on the quick recognition that Indus Wines has received so far, and they have far to go, she assures.
Special reporter Anisha Sharma for indianwine.com