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Delhi Wine Club
Blog: Stomping the Great Grover

Posted: Tuesday, 29 January 2013 11:38

Blog: Stomping the Great Grover

Jan 29 : The newly formed Grover Zampa Ltd., through the merger of Grover having a winery in Bangalore and Zampa owning vineyards and winery near Nashik, organised a fun event to celebrate the harvest ’13, called the Great Grover Stomp at the Nashik Vineyards where about 500 invitees enjoyed the wine, food and hospitality at the event planned in part perhaps to let the world know the merger deal had been tightly sealed

When Ravi Jain, Director of the erstwhile Zampa and now Grover Zampa, called me a couple of weeks ago to invite me to visit the Grover Vineyard on 27th January for a fun event, I was under a thick cover of organising the visit of Sicilian producers who would be visiting 4 venues from January 20-25 and had just been to Bangalore to oversee the arrangements at ITC Gardenia, where I had also visited the Grover winery and met Karishma Grover, Kapil’s daughter and assistant winemaker. But he would not take no for an answer.

When I relented I told him I would like to be picked up from the airport and taken directly to the winery and it would be nice if I were brought to the airport the same evening so I could return to Delhi the same day as I would be loaded with a lot of work that usually follows an organised trip like these Sicilian Masterclasses. He sounded a bit surprised and said it might be too much of a physical strain returning the same day and so I decided to stay back for a day and return to Delhi the next day-after staying in Bangalore for a night.

Just before the ticket was booked, I received the e-Invite. Going through it, I found it rather strange that it was Grover Stomp for which I would be going to Bangalore and yet they were talking about the vineyard in the Sahyadari mountains. It was then that it hit me that I was being invited to the Grover (Zampa) vineyard in Nashik and not Bangalore!

Confusion galore

The merger may be complete but we still have the old notions. So the new company might have thought it a good idea to get people together – the guests of Grover and the guests from Zampa with a few of us who were known to both, so the bonhomie could be also an occasion to announce that the merger was complete and they had started working together- though the merger has still not become legal.

The merger was not Breaking News for the Maharashtrians. At the Mumbai Fest last month where I had tasted Grover wines from Nashik, the staff from Grover Zampa had been tasting Grover wines made only in the Zampa Nashik vineyards, including the La Reserve, according to them.  So how would he  explain the flavour of Sauvignon Blanc produced in Maharashtra that was so different than that produced in Bangalore, I asked Kapil Grover who was present in his Sunday attire with bright orange golfing trousers along with Ravi Jain, Dipak Roy and Neeraj Deorah-the 3 Directors of the erstwhile Zampa and now his partners. ‘Very simple,’ he said. ‘We are terminating our Sangli winery lease and have started producing all the Grover wines including the La Reserve in Nashik. But they will be produced and sold only in Maharashtra. Rest of the country will get the liquid from Karnataka and won’t be affected by the change,’ he clarified.

Reality check on Sales

It was also a good opportunity for me to once again do the reality check on the expected sales this year (2011-12)- earlier the estimates given (and reported in delWine) had varied between 90,000 and 110,000 cases. While the optimism had not waned despite his voice betraying it, the estimates given by different people present at the pow-wow varied from 65,000 to 100,000 cases for this year whereas next year’s target was around 150,000 cases, after the infra-structure was in place, I was told. Realistically, I would stick to my estimate of around 60,000 cases for this year and 80,000-90,000 cases for next year, making them the number 3 player for these two years (Sula and Four Seasons being laps ahead).

Another interesting question for which I travelled 1300 kms was to remove my doubts that had gone from murmurs to rumblings in the market. I had been told by many people that La Reserve was nothing but imported from France and at the very least, a significant portion in the Blend was imported. I had felt totally ignorant for many months and did ask Kapil after he had downed a few glasses  of Zampa Rose Brut followed by a few of the whites and reds of both the stables, interspersed with a Zampa Syrah Reserve from 2008 and a Tempranillo Reserve resting in one barrel that I had the opportunity of tasting with Neeraj Deorah when there were approximately 486 less people (I had taken 14 members of the Delhi Wine Club to Zampa and the other Nashik wineries including Sula, Reveilo, York and Aryaa last year).

Between dancing to the soulful music of a rock group from Mumbai, Kapil did respond to my question with an emphatic negative, ‘zero percent, I repeat- zero percent! We do not use any imported wine in our La Reserve and you can quote me on that.’  To me when a senior partner like Kapil Grover tells me that, I would rather believe him than the rumours and I would continue to say  that La Reserve which tasted as delicious as ever, is made from the local grapes and though it might taste a wee bit different in Maharashtra because of the local grapes (meaning Cabernet and Shiraz and not indigenous like Anarkali purple or whatever).

I could not depart  without giving a word of advice to Ravi Jain that now that they are spending so much money on the branding (the Great Grover Stomp was just one component), they ought to look at promoting wine tourism, especially as their location was ideal for the visiting people from Mumbai, who could drive straight on the Mumbai Nashik Highway like a shooting star and hit the turn on the left at Wadivarhe Crossing, 25 kms short of Nashik and drive 7 kms without looking to the left or right. Though he did not leave the grassy patch in the courtyard that served as a dance floor, he insisted I go to the top of the mountain where the vineyards are located and have a look at the tents set up for the event.

A kutcha flat road carved out of the hillock in a hurry to accommodate about 15-20 Jaipur tents only reinforced my feeling that this vineyard could serve as the first leg of a potential Wine Route in Nashik that I have been propagating for years. Unknown to Ravi, this is how Rajeev Samant had started the stay at Sula vineyard after developing the Tasting Room overlooking the Gangapur Lake  (which has now become the industry benchmark) before the current ‘Beyond’ complex came up. There is no doubt that there is a strong case for the merged company to fast track an agri- tourismo, a place where wine tourists can come and spend a day or two in a serene atmosphere and learn about wines as they enjoy drinking them.

Was the Great Stomp going to be an annual event, I asked Ravi, suggesting that perhaps they pre-empted Sula Fest and had organised it a week in advance. ‘Not at all’, he said,’ we had earlier planned it for January 20th,’ as his voice was drowned in the high decibels of music and he was dragged onto the dance floor again by his friends and fans. After the Zampa Crush in 2010 and the Great Grover Stomp 2013, one may look forward to a week-end of fun and frolic around wine; the only beverage seen served besides sangria at the Stomp.

At any rate, Ravi was optimistic about making it an annual Great Stomp of Grover, even if there were less people in the grape tub stomping the grapes than the fingers on your hands. Life has never been the same since Indage stopped the ritual of stomping by a hired bunch of pretty long-legged models, more pleasing to the eye though the idea of the juice going for fermentation might put you off drinking wine for a while.

Subhash Arora

Voluntary Disclosure: Transport to the venue was provided by Grover Zampa

Tags: Grover Zampa Ltd., Grover, Zampa, Great Grover Stomp, Nashik Vineyards, Ravi Jain, Karishma Grover, Sicilian Masterclasses, Bangalore, La Reserve, Kapil Grover, Dipak Roy, Neeraj Deorah, Sangli, Maharashtra, Zampa Rose Brut, Zampa Syrah Reserve, Sula, Reveilo, York, Aryaa, Mumbai Nashik Highway, Wadivarhe, Wine Route, Rajeev Samant, Sula vineyard , Beyond, Sula Fest, Zampa Crush, Great Grover, Stomp 2013



Sahitya Says:


Very informative post! thank you for sharing it with us.

Posted @ November 29, 2017 09:35


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