Conversations With Indulge – Kailash Gurnani

York Winery was founded in 2005 with the dream of producing world class Indian wines backed by family values and commitment. India’s biggest family- owned and operated winery, York has established a reputation for producing some of the best Indian wines both in terms of quality and value, and has won numerous accolades since its first vintage in 2008.

Kailash Gurnani is one the youngest winemaker in India

Kailash started his winemaking journey at the University of Adelaide when he took up a graduate program in oenology. Being around winemakers from the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley region, he learnt fast and realised he had a good palate. Over the years Kailash has worked with Australian, Cypriot, South African, French and New Zealand winemakers who have all contributed to his winemaking style, honing it into what it is today. Making wine in India has been an incredible challenge, yet satisfying and full of learnings.

Without further ado, read on to know more about Kailash’s winemaking style, the challenges he faced (and faces) and all about his day in the vineyard:

What is your winemaking style and how would you define it?

I personally like my drinks to be refreshing, vibrant with some substance and complexity. I try to bring these elements into my wines while allowing them to express their own inherent flavours at the same time.

Who’s your role model and source of inspiration in the world of wines?

 No single person has influenced my winemaking style. Several people in the old and new world have shaped my style to become what it is today.

What’s the most difficult thing about winemaking in India and how do you deal with it?

 The big challenge is India is that as the harvest season progresses, we move from the winter into the summer season. This makes it difficult to get the right phenolic maturity & tannin intensity in our red grapes. Over the years I’ve tailored my skin contact time during fermentation and oak selection in order to achieve a decent balance between fruit, structure, intensity & length in my reds.   

What’s the best thing about your job?

I get to live both the peaceful farm life and fast city life. The mix of people I get to interact with is very interesting. 

What are your favourite grape varietals? 

York is biggest family owned winery in India

There aren’t a whole lot of grape varieties that grow really well in India. But amongst the ones that do, I really enjoy working with Shiraz & Chenin Blanc. I love the robustness and intensity of Shiraz and flexibility of Chenin Blanc. You can get very creative with these varieties in the winery.

Being India’s biggest family owned winery, what family values would you want to spread with your wines?

Anything nurtured with patience, care, focus & hard work is bound to bear good fruit. Being flexible in the event things don’t go your way is key. 

What is the most unique wine production style you have come across till now?

 The Solera system and ageing with ‘flor’ yeast used in the production of Sherry. 

What’s your favourite tipple at the end of a busy day?

 Gin & Tonic
. But most days, nothing beats a chilled beer!

What’s your advice to young professionals seeking knowledge on winemaking?

 There is no substitute to hands-on work in the vineyard or winery. Do as much of that as you possibly can.

What keeps you going in this line of profession? 

The creative side of making wine specially when I’m developing and working with a new variety or label. 

York Winery is located 20 minutes from the heart of Nashik city and 3 hours from Mumbai. The 9-acre York estate has vineyards of Chardonnay & Tempranillo alongside a state-of-the-art winery, tasting room & all-day restaurant that present a breath-taking view of the tranquil expanse of the Gangapur dam backwaters.

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