I had first tasted Indian wine some five years previously on a river cruise in Assam. One rainy afternoon, a wine-tasting session was organised onboard our vessel and we sampled six Indian whites. On a return trip to India two years later I happened to meet a New Zealand winemaker in Delhi. He was zealous about Indian wines. Back in the late 1970s the world laughed at New Zealand's wine efforts, he said. And he reckoned Indian viticulture was at just such a stage in its evolution. There was, he assured me, plenty of potential. Much of the challenge, he said, was in controlling over-fruiting and producing just one harvest.
Meeting one of the Oberoi's sommeliers
A Canadian graduate of oenology, Lindsay Groves joined the Oberoi group in 2009. The wine culture of India is expanding rapidly, she told me, and it reflects the country's huge changes in lifestyle, particularly for women. Wine drinking is still, of course, very new to India and often the consumers don't quite know what to expect in terms of taste and quality, but they are learning fast.
Meeting Nivrutti Dhawale, vineyard manager and viticulturist, Vallee De Vin
As we walked past rows of Syrah and Grenache, he explained that back in the 1920s the Nashik area became a major centre for growing grapes to eat. It was only in the late 1990s that wine vines were introduced and, less than 15 years later, there are now more than 45 vineyards in the region. Zampa has been producing wine for just three years and already there are plans to expand the business.