Indian wine pioneer, Kanwal Grover passed away after a short illness on 28 July 2011. He was 85 knocking on 86. Sommelier India is saddened at the passing away of a great stalwart of the Indian wine industry. Pay tribute to Kanwal Grover by sharing your favorite memories of him in the comments section of this post. Pictured above is Kanwal Grover with his son Kapil Grover on the left and granddaughter, Karishma Grover on the right.
Founder of Grover Vineyards, Kanwal Grover was a man of vision and a pioneer in the truest sense of the word. Propelled by an abiding love for wine he founded Grover Vineyards after the age of 60 in 1988.
A frequent visitor to France because of his business of importing sophisticated equipment, Grover was exposed to the finest French wines and gastronomy and acquired a refined palate. Fired by a desire to produce wine in his own country, Grover embarked in the early 1980s on an ambitious project of growing vitis vinifera grapes in India.
His friend and guide at the time was George Vesselle, technical director of vineyards at Champagne Mumm. Their friendship developed when, on his first visit to Bouzy, Grover discovered that they were born on the same day of the same year, 1925, and Vessele opened a 1925 bottle of wine for him from his personal cellar.
Together they criss-crossed the country, comparing climate, rainfall and soil composition at various sites in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, sending bags of soil to France for analysis. Their research was conducted in consultation with French experts and 33 grape varieties were planted. Finally, after numerous blind tastings of wines produced in similar conditions, they homed in on the Nandi Hills region as the best location for producing premium wines.
Only nine varieties that had shown the most potential were selected and planted commercially on 40 acres of land at the foot of the Nandi Hills in 1988. Grover Vineyards was born five years after the idea was first mooted. The first vintage was released in 1992.
In 1994, impressed by Kanwal Grover’s conviction and enthusiasm, Michel Rolland was sufficiently intrigued by his path-breaking project, to join Grover Vineyards as consulting oenologist and provide invaluable expertise. Since then Grover Vineyards has crossed many milestones, introducing Indian wines in the West and garnering international awards and recognition along the way.
In 2005 Jancis Robinson counted Grover’s Rosé among the five best rosés in the world. The same year Grover won a further accolade that pitched the wines still higher when Steven Spurrier in a blind tasting declared Grover’s La Réserve to be the new world’s best red wine.
The story of Grover Vineyards is a testament to Kanwal Grover’s pioneering and entrepreneurial skills. His son Kapil and grand-daughter Karishma, who joined the company three years ago, are carrying on the family legacy. Our heartfelt condolences go to the family in their bereavement, as well as good wishes for Grover Vineyard’s continuing success.