Apparently, Bangalore used to be know for its grape farms. C recalls that, when he was a kid, whole areas of northern Bangalore were grape farms. My friend D tells me that her apartment building used to be grape land. You’ll notice I didn’t say vineyards.
On my last trip to India, in 2005, I tried the local wine — a newly revived industry back then. (Vines planted by colonist where taken by phylloxera. Once independent, India moved towards prohibition and discouraged wine production. Wine making wasn’t revived until the 1990s.) I kept an open mind. Really. But it was undrinkable. (Probably one of the reasons the G&Ts became so popular…)
That was then and this is now. I am happy to say, Indian wine has come a long way.
In 2013, there are several that are okay and one — Vindiva — that is good. Vindiva is akin to some New Zealand Shiraz and Marlborough Sauv Blanc wines that I enjoy. And I am happy to have found it, because the import duty on foreign wines is insane.
I learned that the vineyard isn’t far from here: it lies SW of Mysore. So, off we went for a tour, tasting and lunch at Alpine Wineries. What an amazing afternoon!
Alpine is taking an scientific approach to finding the right grapes and conditions for each parcel of its property. Currently, it’s planted about 1/5 of its total property and it is ramping up production slowly, to ensure quality. Alpine grows its own grapes and does not source from off-site — to ensure quality control. Alpine hires local villagers (who’ve worked in agriculture for generations) to help harvest, prune, etc. While the wine making is new, the agricultural tradition isn’t. This allows the winery to grow in a way that is compatible with the nearby village and it helps the villagers obtain local work that suits their skills and pays fairly. (The location, while beautiful, is quite remote, so there are few employment opportunities nearby.) Alpine is also harvesting rain water and employing bio-dynamic techniques where feasible.
However, some of the grander plans included in the master plan (golf course? air strip??), seem … a stretch. And less ecologically appropriate. If it can keep focused on wine, I have high hopes for Alpine’s future success.
Alpine is making 3 ranges of wine. One (Oro) tends to be quite sweet — which is popular with locals, but not my thing. The others are more along the lines of what I enjoy. The higher end Vindiva Reserve line is my favorite, although the mid-range Vindiva Classic Sauv Blanc is tasty too.
Thus, have a new “house wine” for my home in India