The Indian culture is long, rich, and immersed in diversity. Tradition, religion, cuisine, and music found in India has had a profound impact across the world. International interest and appreciation for Indian culture is a wonderful testament of that impact. In fact, the western world has a long history of fascination for India, expressing itself in writings from a wide range of authors and societal studies.
As with other facets of this fascinating nation, Indian viticulture is as experienced as it is diverse. Historians date early grape plantings in India to the 4th millennium BC! The Persians are often credited with introducing grapevines to the Indian region that, at the time, was known as the Indus Valley civilization. While early winemaking efforts contained very little alcohol, advancements in the 4th century BC moved away from grape juice and focused on fermentation.
The Baramati, Kashmir and Surat regions saw large-scale planting under British rule. This was primarily due to British colonists and the demand they produced. Overall, the entire Victorian era was a golden age for India’s wine industry, with the higher class becoming more acceptant to wine. International recognition in 1883 boosted Indian wineries even further… until the infamous phylloxera arrived.
Recovery & The Modern Era
The phylloxera epidemic is widely known as the most cataclysmic event in the history of wine. France was hit in 1863. Spain’s struggle began in 1878. India experienced the same devastation only decades later, suffering great loss throughout the country. Recovery wasn’t easy; years of damage required years of grafting and regrowth. Unfortunately for Indian winemakers, religious and social controversy arose over alcohol, even to the point of prohibition by law.
The modern era of Indian wine began to develop around 1980. French grape varieties were imported, including Chardonnay, Pinot blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The growth and evolution of India’s economy, society, and culture allowed a new breed of wine enthusiasts to step up. Since then, each year has seen increased production and exportation from six distinct wine producing regions. While India doesn’t hold mind-blowing statistics on wine volume or consumption, Indian wine is increasingly becoming a vital part to the international market. Expect great things from this nation’s winemakers in the years to come.
If you enjoyed today’s post, keep an eye out tomorrow and Wednesday for a more detailed look at Indian wine.