“The answer is wine… Oh, wait! What was the question?”
This is exactly how I was the day before our vineyard trip #LostInMyOwnWorld.
Grover Zampa has been on my bucket list for some time now and finally, on the 13th of Feb 2018 we were able to make a visit. Being a student of culture let me put it this way, we were fortunate to be abundantly graced by Dionysus. A therapeutic gift of liberating us from our mundane self, peppering with madness and wine!
Smell of those wines!!!
GROVER ZAMPA – THE HISTORY
Wending our way through the vineyard is when Vipin, our guide for the day, narrated the history of Grover Zampa. A tale of passion being brewed to a profession, yes, I’m talking about Kanwal Grover, the man behind Grover Zampa wines.
It was back in the 1960s that Mr Grover planted seeds of winemaking in the soils of Indian minds. As an industrialist, importing equipment’s for India’s space and defence programs, Mr Grover got to visit France quite frequently. It was these oft trips that favoured him his appointment with George Vesselle –“The Pope of wine”. Together, with barrels of perseverance and commitment, the Grover winery was set up.
Believing in “Less is more” to maintain good quality, Grover Zampa wines stand well-founded as the oldest functioning wineries of India.
MY TRIP TO GROVER ZAMPA – Getting entWINEd with bottles of wine
WHAT, WHERE, AND HOW
Grover Zampa, stepping into their 25th year of winemaking, is brewing some of the finest wine collections in India. Their wines include Zampa Soiree Brut, Art Collection Cabernet-Shiraz, One tree hill red, La Reserve, Sante Chenin Blanc, Zampa Chenin Blanc, Raya Red, and not to forget their most expensive (handcrafted) produce Insignia. You can find more on Grover zampa wines here.
Grover zampa has their vineyards at Nashik, Maharashtra as well as at the foot of Nandi hills in Bangalore, Karnataka.
Nashik Address: Follow this link to get the exact location of Grover Zampa in Nashik.
Bangalore Address: For Grover Zampa Bangalore coordinates follow this link.
Nearest Airport: Bangalore international airport, which is an hour drive from the hills, is the closest airport to Grover Zampa.
Nearest railway: The nearest railways to Grover Zampa would be Dodballapur station (about 5km).
By Car: It is almost a 2-hour drive to the vineyard from Bangalore. You can start early, sidestepping the famous Bangalore traffic, but mind you, the vineyard opens only after 10 am. So, the best, and smart, thing would be to pool in an early road trip to Nandi Hills.
Best time to visit Grover Zampa: Feb-March is considered to be the best time to visit the vineyard. You’ll get to see the greens and purples all ripe and ready to be reaped. Speaking about ripe, did you guys know that the size of grapes needed for winemaking has to be small and the size of seeds larger than the usual?
WHAT TO EXPECT
Walking in, we let ourselves be enamored with the smell of wine, letting it sweep us of our feet.
The way they maintain the place… I mean look at those barrel tables! Even though it was only a plate of biriyani and papad (and not to forget gulabjamuns, I have a major sweet tooth you know!) lunch was delightful. We headed for our winery tour right after that scrummy meal.
Vipin took us through the different processes of winemaking explaining how wine is just as human as us. He featly described, starting from the grape sorting, bunch-pressing, fermentation, bottling, and barrel-ageing, the different routes chosen for the aroma and flavours to sprout open. (Unfortunately, photography is forbidden in most rooms so you’ll have to venture yourself to see how things are done 🙂 – book a tour here)
Bottles of wine, cheese, and crackers were waiting as we entered the barrel room – ready to be tasted and reviewed.
Seeing swirling sipping… Experiencing the five S’s of wine tasting, trying to decipher the different elements was indeed fun.
We ain’t any connoisseurs but can sure say the wines were pretty good. From the light fruity baby wines to the strong and lasting oldies- the reds and roses did let us feel the swim of aromas. We got to taste 5 varieties from their collection.
Off to the Vineyard we went:
The most awaited vineyard tour is just a kilometer away from the winery.
Of the extensive 450 acres of vineyard, we visited the closest 50acre slot.
The warm sunny days mixed with the wintery calm nights are supposed to be the best condition for viticulture. And that is exactly what our ‘Betta’ offers the oldest vineyard of India – Grover Zampa vineyard. Imagine the sight of sprawling 50 acres of vines amidst the poetic settings of Nandi hills in Bangalore. If you are among those footloose travel freaks sitting at home googling “things to do in Bangalore” or “things to do near Nandi hills” then this is one place I’d recommend you go visit.
Before stopping let us look at some grape trivia that I gathered:
They maintain the maximum height of the grape vine at 2 feet, with all other twigs other than the boughs cropped off!
Did you know that grapevines require only 2-3l of water (approx.) for around a week… surprisingly that’s the amount we drink in a day!
Have you seen the white powdery substance that covers the grape? I used to think that was dust! Oh no its not… Bloom, Bloom of the grape, something similar to natural yeast. A bit of Google-snooping showed me it’s believed that this bloom resonates to the whitish dry lips of God Dionysus himself!
Another curio we heard, um how do I phrase it, was that wine was non vegetarian!! Why is that so? Wineries make use of fining agents like egg whites, casein, gelatin, and blood (usually ox-blood). Quite creepy that! But don’t worry there are replacements for all these and if you want to know what these substitutes are make a visit to Grover Zampa a.s.a.p. 😉
Even though I have been to a winery before (by before I mean long ago), this experience was phenomenally different! Unbottling the vines of memory we collected, I feel more than thrilled on having got this opportunity. We sure did enjoy every sip of it…
PS: Have you been to a vineyard before? Let me know your experience through the comments 🙂