Recently, CNNGo posted an article titled “Stars of the Indian wine world” where they profiled six of India’s most influential wine experts. Check it out here or for a brief low-down of the Who’s Who in the Indian wine industry have a read below.
Kiran and Yatin Patil, Vintage Wines
Vintage Wines, marketed under the brand name Reveilo, is a family run business by Yatin and his wife Kiran. They’re noted mainly because of the many “firsts” they have brought to the Indian wine industry. They’re the first winery in India to age Chardonnay in oak barrels, the first to employ air conditioned warehousing and transportation, and the first to produce wines from Italian grape varieties Nero D’Avola, Sangiovese and Grillo. The premium quality of their wine is supported by the fact that they are the only Indian winery to sell to more hotels than retail outlets.
Sanjay Menon, Sonarys
Sanjay Menon, owner of the wine importing company Sonarys, is known for his extensive knowledge and enthusiasm of international wines. He has a huge portfolio of wines and has even set up a wine school. Menon has made strides in getting Indians interested in international wine and the wine making world interested in India.
Kavita Faiella, Aman Resorts
Kavita, originally from Australia (don’t let her name fool you), is the regional cellarmaster of Aman Resorts, a high end hotel in New Delhi. Her love of wine began in Italy when she was working in a wine bar and was offered a scholarship for a certified sommelier course. She gave up the opportunity to work alongside celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal at Fat Duck in the UK and instead chose New Delhi as her next stop. Like Menon, Faiella is excited to play a role in the development of the wine drinking culture in India.
Rajeev Samant, Sula Vineyards
Rajeev Samant is the founder and CEO of Sula Vineyards. You can read about Sula in my entry titled The Big Guys. Samant attended Stanford University in California where he studied Economics and Engineering management and even did a short stint working at Oracle. When he eventually returned home to Nashik he decided to grow grapes on his family’s 20 acre estate for wine making. It was Samant and his company Sula that transformed Nashik into the wine destination of India.
Rajesh Rasal is an oenologist and freelance wine maker and has worked with over 14 Indian wineries while juggling at least 2 simultaneously. His first real job in the industry was alongside Indage‘s winemaker John Locke, he started off as his understudy and was quickly offered the title of Quality Control Officer. In 2000 Rasal was able to carve out a niche for himself when he moved to Nashik to help small wineries that wanted to transition from table grapes to wine. They couldn’t afford to bring in hot shot international winemakers so they leaned on Rasal’s expertise. More recently he has been working with Good Earth Winery where he helped them choose a site in Baramati, which is outside India’s typical wine regions. Rasal’s knack for selecting ideal soil and climate conditions for wine is a clear indication of his vast knowledge on the subject.
Last, and definitely not least, we have sommelier Magandeep Singh. Out of a population of over 1 billion people Magan is India’s only French-certified sommelier. He studied Hotel Management in Mumbai and went on to complete his Masters in France. After that he obtained a post graduate diploma in Wine Tasting from a prestigious institute in France, where the course was taught in French no less. He returned back to his homeland and has been beefing up his resumé ever since. He has trained hotel and restaurant staff, implemented storage and logistical plans, judged competitions, held countless wine tastings and events, started up a wine training facility, lead a group of sommeliers consulting to hotels and restaurants, wrote numerous articles and even wrote and had published his very own book titled “Wine Wisdom: Buying and Drinking Wine in India”. Magan is living proof of the vast potential India’s wine industry has to offer.