Interview with Ravi Gurani from brand new York Winery, located at Nasik. The whole family is getting serious in to the wine business.
The notion of York Winery was conceived by my father, Lilo Gurnani, back in 2004. It was out of a passion for wine and the opportunity in the then nascent domestic wine market. The project took off in April 2006 leading upto the first crush in February 2008. A lot of time was dedicated to understanding the workings of the industry at a worldwide and domestic level before the actual work began. It is a family concern also involving my brother in law, Ravi Shamdasani. My younger brother Kailash is studying to become a winemaker in Adelaide, Australia and will be one of the first qualified winemakers in India in a couple of years when he graduates. We have a South African winemaker who consults for us and under whose guidance the wines are made. The objective has been to produce international quality wines at reasonable prices. Now I know everybody says they are making quality wines, but we genuinely know and believe that our wines are better than many in the market.
Nasik being the place with ideal climate for growing wine grapes, the winery is located in the Gangapur area not too far from Sula Vineyards. It overlooks the scenic Gangapur Dam and has rolling vineyards on the sides. The winery is state of the art and at full capacity can handle upto 1 million litres of wine. The current capacity of the winery is around 400,000 litres. There is also a 6 acres estate vineyard which grows grapes for our Reserve wines. The winery has separate fermentation halls for red wines and white wines. The tanks for the red wines has been customized to enable punching down on the grapes during fermentation, which I believe is a first in India. We also have a barrel cellar which is underground and used to age the red wines. We have also planned for sparkling wine in the future.
The wines will be sold in the domestic market under the York brand. Our winemaker being South Africa, the approach to winemaking and viticulture is very New World unlike some of the other wines in the market who have European winemakers. The regular varietals include Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel Rose, Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes for these wines are sourced from our contract farmers with whom we work very closely throughout the year to monitor the quality and yields of the vines. We also have a Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon which are aged for 8-10 months in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels. The grapes for these wines are grown on the estate and the wines will be sold under the York Estate Reserve label. We are also planning to make a dessert wine and sparkling wine in the next vintage.
The wines have been priced competitively compared to other premium wines in the market. This is in line with our philosophy of making quality and affordable wines as generally Indian wines are still expensive for the type of quality one gets compared to imported wines.
The Tasting Room
We have also opened a Tasting Room at the winery for visitors. It will also include guided tours of the winery. The Tasting Room overlooks the scenic Gangapur Dam, rolling vineyards and a gallery looking into the inner workings of the winery. Its open for visitor 7 days a week from 12 am to 10 pm. The winery itself is conveniently located just 5 mins down the road from Sula Vineyards in Nasik.
The way forward
We have started our Tasting Room about 4 months back and also launched the wines in Nasik. We plan to start selectively releasing our wines in certain parts of Mumbai in restaurants and retail outlets through to the end of the year. We want to focus on Maharashtra first before venturing into other domestic markets. Also planned are exports to UK and Hong Kong, but that would be under a different brand from York. Infact we will be shipping our first container of wine to UK next week!