Early in the first week of March, Team IWBS visited India’s wine epicentre, the Nashik Valley in Maharashtra. And what a fantastic experience it was! While for Sahil MISRA it was his first taste of the wine capital of the country, Gagan SHARMA had the experiences of 2009 and 2014 to draw comparisons from (more on that later). But just after they returned to Delhi, the world, and shortly after India, came under the deathly grip of the Corona pandemic and the lush harvest time vineyards suddenly felt so quiet and macabre.
We were all left wondering what was happening in the valley. The good news is, as shared with our sommelier and educator Gagan SHARMA over multiple telecons by many winemakers, that the harvests were well in the tanks before the lockdown came into place. Even the few remaining parcels that were yet to be picked were brought in safely. The Indian winegrowers have an association in Maharashtra and Karnataka which came together and urged the local governments to provide passes during the lockdown to workers to aid with the harvests. Thankfully the administrative powers were understanding here, unlike those in Goa who failed the Feni production in totality this year. While some producers had successfully completed the harvests before the 14th of March, those who couldn’t used minimal labour to get the job done. At the time of publishing this, crushing and fermentation is underway with utmost regard for hygiene. No more than 4 workers are being allowed at the wineries and operations are in full swing. While for producers like Sula, Grovers Zampa, and Fratelli Vineyards, 4-5 workers may not be sufficient, at least it helps keep production processes in place and avoids stock lag in the months to come.
This is a new beginning for the Indian wine industry where everyone came together for a common cause, something that’s rarely seen (unfortunately). The association standing up with a clear common agenda, and the governments supporting them will continue in the future too. We at IWBS Team hopes that all wine lovers will appreciate this collaborative effort when they raise their glasses with the vintage 2020. Coupled with a 30-35% crop failure this year due to harsh weathers and floods in Nashik, this is the year to support our winemakers and industry, and we hope our hospitality industry also supports them internally with relaxed demands of freebies, preposterous margins, and mad retail/sales schemes.
Team IWBS salutes our winemakers in such tough time. Cheers!!