On a very hot February morning, Todd and I headed north of town to join an ex-pat excursion to Grover Vineyard http://grovervineyards.in/ , a winery trying to establish itself as one of the elite in India. Grover started with a search for the climate that would yield the best grape production. The Kashmir region took first place, but given the extreme political unrest up north, the second choice region became the preferred area–Bangalore.
The 40 of us were greeted at the beginning of our tour with jasmine garlands. Very fragrant. Often these gardens are placed in women’s hair. The scent was overpowering for many in the heat and folks wrapped them on their arms or on purses to move them away from their faces. I thought it smelled heavenly.
The Grover vineyard only started tours three months ago, and after I realized that I really thought they did a great job. We started out in the fields where a man described the growing process. They have vines grown the Indian way and the European way. The European vines and climate reminded me very much of Napa.
Every step of the touring process emphasized that Grover was doing everything just like the French do. They have a French person in charge of the entire process, they import their barrels and grapes from France, and so on. As I teach in my policy classes, mimicry is the way a new company in a new place gains legitimacy. It is interesting how little I hear Napa folks comparing their production to France. It is almost in the U.S. like there is an explicit attempt not to try to compare to France in Napa but instead to establish the value of U.S. wine in its own right. I most remember comparisons in which the U.S. winemakers showed the medals that they won over french wins.
After touring the fields and the production facilities we were finally taken to the tasting room. Sitting down with some wine put a smile on our faces. We are pictured here with my new friend Priya. She lived in the States for 17 years (including Illinois and Boston) before deciding to move back to India with her family. I am learning a lot from her about the struggles and successes of returning back to India. For her kids, it is not returning, but moving to an entirely new place–not so easy, and especially not so easy to learn how to fit in to a very different schooling structure. Priya has kiddos the same age and gender as ours, so we are hoping to plan to get the families together soon.
Most of the wines were just okay, and some were actually quite awful. We sat with a fun group of Brits and one lady exclaimed after a red, “it smells like old leather shoes.” But thankfully our opinions changed after we had the last wine, La Reserve. A delicious blend of cab sav and syrah. So delicious that I bought a bottle to bring home to share with my monthly wine group.
After tasting perhaps too much wine, we had a lovely biryani lunch outside, with even more wine. Ducks floated about in the pond and monkeys climbed overhead!