Located atop the rolling Hampi hills, about 70 kilometres from the famous and historically significant ruins of Hampi, is KRSMA Estates-- India's first vineyard to have made it to World's 50 Best Vineyards List. The Karnataka-based vineyard featured at the 46th spot on the list. Through their 12-year-old venture spread across 150 acres, KRSMA Estates' founders Krishna Prasad and Uma Chigurapati have put Indian winemaking on the global map.
In a virtual interview with Krishna Prasad, one of KRSMA Estates' founders, Moneycontrol's Akanksha Sarma discusses what the win meant for them, the impact of COVID-19 and the future for the winery.
Q: As the founder, how do you feel about this achievement?
A: I won't say there is great excitement, but a lot of relief and validation. I'm a little surprised because this came a little earlier than I thought. So yes, that's a good feeling. But more or less, it is a vindication of my beliefs, and what we do. As a winery, this is what we set out to do. I wanted to put this on the world map, and I managed to achieve that.
Frankly, that night, I wasn't expecting it. It was a mixed feeling and a little excitement. However, the next day, when I started getting phone calls from different people, it was then that the whole thing struck me.
Q: Amid the ongoing pandemic, what are some of the obstacles you have faced?
A: The pandemic has disrupted the market and sales are down for everybody. Everyone is struggling, but I see this as an opportunity. The pressure on stock availability is high, which is why I'm releasing my 2016 wine. I would have liked to keep it for another year because I know it would be much better. Of course, it needs a lot of will power to be able to block so much money and just accumulate inventory. But it is not just that, it is also about storage costs. We have to keep them in a refrigerated or air-conditioned area, even that adds to the cost.
Q: I'm curious about why you settled in Hampi and what made you pick this spot for your vineyard?
A: I'm always looking for something different. I found a farmer here trying to grow grapes, he planted Cabernet (red wine grape variety) and he didn't know what to do after that. When I saw this place, the porous soil, the rolling hills and the drainage system, I felt this is a great place to grow grapes. I bargained with him on the spot and bought the area. At the time I bought around 50 acres, but now we have over 150 acres.
Q: What do you envision for KRSMA in the next couple of years?
A: In a few years, I plan on hiring and then take on this task of winemaking and a little more growing. This is going to be transformed into a much better place, with better wine. The quality will definitely improve and the place as well. We also plan to build some nice living quarters.
The recognition that we are making great wine, that's all that drives me. Nothing else.