What made you want to become a winemaker? I never planned or set out to become a winemaker and was doing research work in biotechnology. A turn of events and the need to get into something more practical led me to quit my basic research programme.
This interview first appeared in Volume 7, Issue 3 of Sommelier India- The Wine Magazine. Subscribe today to receive the magazine as soon as it hits the newsstand. Sommelier India is required reading for Indians around the world who enjoy wine and the good life.
My degrees in Microbiology and Biotechnology coupled with a short project in winemaking assisted me to apply to the Sula advertisement looking for an Assistant Winemaker. Once I joined Sula I learnt on the job and trained with Sula’s wine consultant, Kerry Damskey and his associates. This was the time when I realized that winemaking is a challenging yet fun-filled job with none of the mundane jobs or routines associated with regular manufacturing. Rajeev also encouraged me to go abroad and learn from several harvest experiences. Travelling, tasting wines and learning about this vast and interesting field developed my passion for wine and winemaking.
How long have you been associated with Sula Wines, India?
I joined Sula in October 1999 when we were just starting with our first bottling and it has been a great association of 12 years of learning, working and growing with the company.
How is the winemaking tradition and procedure in India different from the rest of the world?
Winemaking for making Drakshasava and Port wine has been around in India for many years. However, modern winemaking as we know it today in India has been in existence only for the last two decades. There are no specific traditions or practices and the wines made are more a reflection of the individual styles of the consulting winemakers from different countries, what they consider as best for young vineyards and what producers deem suitable for the Indian market. In India, we do not have fixed varieties for a region and are not bound by appellations. Thus the winemakers are experimenting with several varieties. Also, since the harvest season sees very little rain we have a long harvest period where we can work with early, mid- and late ripening varieties. But, as elsewhere in the world, most wineries are experimenting with old world winemaking knowledge and new world techniques.
Read the rest of the interview in Sommelier India.