North of Bengaluru, off NH 44 and the new airport, lies the area of Nandi Hills, the centrepiece a granite massiff rising 1,750 feet above the surrounding plains. Three wineries here (there are more) are worth visiting. The second-oldest winery in India, Grover Vineyards, was established near Bengaluru in 1988 by the Mumbai-based Grover family as research convinced old man Kanwal Grover that the region would produce grapes superior to those in Nashik. The single-winery company then merged with Vallee de Vin in 2013 and is now called Grover Zampa.
The vineyards that once surrounded the winery have been driven out by the rising value of land near Bengaluru — Grover’s closest vineyards are another 23 km away. The winery is 47 km and is near the town of Doddaballarpur — either follow Google Maps for the shortest route, or go via Yelahanka or even off NH44 near Devanhalli.
Winery tours start at 10.30 am and 1.30 pm daily, and include lunch, winery visit and wine tasting (from ~850 per person). See www.groverzampa.in
This is a unique vineyard with an underground winery, 23 km from Grover’s unit, located on the banks of the Makli lake and in the shadow of the 1,200-foot high Makli hill. This has to be India’s most picturesque winery. Follow Google Maps to get there.
The 70-acre vineyards are unique in being the only property in the world with coconut trees set amidst the grapevines. The vineyards were set up by Darby Raju in 2003, but the winery is more recent and took its first crush only in April 2017 — in the interim their Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz grapes have formed the core of Grover’s quality wine portfolio. The estate has a cottage with three rooms and a kitchen, and a well-established tour and tasting programme (all were recently closed for upgrading and may now be open). Do call to check and make reservations in advance. See www.bangaloresomavineyards.com.
The winery took its first crush in 2012, and is located another 50 km from Bangalore Soma, on the road to the town on Gauribiddanur. The owners are reticent about their excellent pedigree, and while they have built a very modern winery and produce among the best wines in India, their visitor centre is not really open to the public. So we’ll just have to be content with mentioning their SDU Reserva Shiraz, whose 2014 vintage was adjudged ‘The Best Indian Red Wine’ by industry experts in 2015.
So there you have it: three wine trails in India, each of which could be covered in a day — but if visiting, do ensure you travel with a designated (non-imbibing) driver as wine-tasting is a spirituously uplifting acitivity!