India is certainly not among the world’s best known wine producing regions, however viticulture has had an extensive history in the country that dates back to the era of the civilization of the Indus Valley. Today, India’s wine market is very small, with only 9 millilitres being consumed per head annually domestically.
Although India has produced wine for most of its history, its wine production industry was encouraged during the time of the Portuguese and British colonization. However, in the late 1800s, the phylloxera louse had a negative impact on the nation’s wine production and then public and religious opinion began to move towards prohibiting alcohol completely. Most vineyards were converted into raisin and table grape production and it wasn’t until the 1980s that the wine industry in India began to revive. The growing middle class and international influences meant that demand increased for wine and by the beginning of the 21st century, each year was seeing demand increasing by up to 30%.
Nashik in Maharashtra is India’s wine capital, and much of the wine growing land in India falls inside the tropical climate band with vineyards being planted at high altitude on the hillsides and slopes to receive cooler air. Elsewhere, the monsoons and extremely high temperatures have meant that wine production is extremely limited.
India’s vineyards range from the north western Punjab state where the climate is somewhat more temperate right down to Tamil Nadu in the south of the country. As well as Maharashtra, the major wine producing regions of India are found in Karnatake and Telangana.
Some of India’s finest red wines are Bordeaux and Cabernet Shiraz blends which are very full bodied and ripe. While reds are more prevalent than whites, there are some good sauvignon blancs too. As yet, India’s wine industry is in its infancy, however as demand grows it is likely that the industry will expand, and production will increase in the years to come.