Viticulture in India has a long history and there is historical evidence of grapevines being introduced from Persia.
During the time of the Portuguese and British colonisation winemaking flourished in India. The end of the 19th century saw the phylloxera louse take its toll on the Indian wine industry as with much of the world. Then religious and public opinion started to move towards the prohibition of alcohol.
After independence from the British Empire a number of states became ‘dry states’ and the government encouraged vineyards to convert to table grape production.
In the 1980s and 1990s the Indian wine industry was revived as international influences and the growing middle classes started increasing demand. Now there are very few wineries who produce the quality and quantity suitable for export. Sula Vineyards in Maharashtra state are one of the few who do and their Syrah and Viognier are fabulous.
You may have noticed that in keeping with Hannibal’s theme of ‘unusual wines from unusual origins‘, we’ve just introduced some Indian wines. Now, we may all harbour a reservation or two about the quality of Indian wine. But take it from me, this ain’t no gimmick – the wines really do stack up.
And why shouldn’t they? After all, India does in fact have quite a history of grape growing – it’s been around since 400 BC. Back then, it was mostly table grapes produced, but more recently (specifically during the British colonization), the Indians turned their hand to winemaking.
In the ’90s, winemaking pretty much exploded in India – a boom in the economy and the rising yuppy-ism suggested that huge domestic demand was just around the corner. In fact, the boom lasted well over a decade, giving aspiring young winemakers plenty of time to prove that it really is possible to produce impressive, world-class wines.
On a more realistic note, as India has been hit by world recession, so too have a huge number of Indian wineries, leaving them strapped for cash and unable to progress.
It’s true to say that some will survive – Sula Vineyards have developed a hotel and restaurant activity to shore up their winery earnings and we can be certain that they won’t compromise on their position as country leaders in winemaking. Sadly, it seems likely that many wineries will revert back to the more lucrative earnings of table grapes, which will be a shame and a loss to us all.
Bottom line… don’t miss the opportunity – Indian wine may not be around for long. Click on India>
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