April 04: Naidu Wines launched in 2020 by Raghni Naidu and her husband, claims to be the first female (Punjabi) Indian owned wine brand in the United States that has been successful despite being in the midst of the Pandemic. Based in Sebastopol Sonoma, Naidu Wines is a boutique winery that crafts high quality wines, specializing in Pinot Noir and named after her husband’s family name from Chennai, and conveys the essence of her family and belief in the freedom to create one’s own path by following one’s dreams and passions, writes Subhash Arora
Born and raised in Amritsar Punjab, Raghni moved to Melbourne, Australia after finishing her schooling at The Lawrence School, Sanawar in Kasauli when she was 18, in a quest for independence, adventure & learning. She studied at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) where she received her Bachelor of Business in Marketing. There she also met her husband Kaushick Naidu who is originally from Chennai and married him.
The family immigrated to the US in 2006 and settled down in San Francisco. She soon discovered the neighbouring wine country of Sonoma County in California. Raghni claims her quest for wines was inspired by the farm- to- table lifestyle she experienced during her travels- especially a special family road trip from Monte Carlo to Barcelona via Provence. This experience inspired her to start searching for a similar personal wine country setting in Northern California's incredible rolling hills with sprawling vineyards.
In 2018 she stumbled upon a pinot noir vineyard, owned by a first-generation Italian American couple that had been farming it for over 30 years and winning awards for the grapes, thanks to its stunning terroir. Mesmerised by the property, she decided to buy it and voilà- Naidu Wines was born.
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Raghni’s dream was to create a wine that would be limited in production, high quality and with a focus on terroir, while working with artists that share her vision.. Naidu Wines debuted last year with the release of a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2018 (Suggested Retail Price $50). This hand-crafted wine with a small production of only 25 cases was sold out on release. She has subsequently released two new varietals Sonoma County Viognier 2020 and a Mendocino County Cuvee Rouge- a blend of old vine Carignan and Zinfandel. She is also set to release Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot 2020 Noir. Only about 50 cases each have been crafted- from grapes bought from the neighbouring farms.
Located in Sebastopol, Sonoma about 100 km away and a little over an hour drive North of San Francisco on Highway 101, near Santa Rosa, the winery also has beautiful secluded spot for stay. Raghni says she was inspired by Merry Edwards of Merry Edwards Winery in Sebastopol.
Merry was one of three women to graduate with a Masters in Enology at UC Davis in 1973 but the only one to continue on the journey of winemaking. Her winery is noted for its Pinot Noirs in the Russian River Valley AVA of Sonoma County. (She sold the winery-lock, stock and barrel, two years ago to Luis Roederer Champagne House-editor)
It is highly unlikely that Naidu Wines would ever find a way to reach India because of the relative high prices and heavy taxes and the very low production. But one can derive pleasure from the fact that a woman (and a Punjabi like me!) has ventured into the wine business. delWine and the Indian Wine Academy have been very supportive of women-especially who take the role of winemakers (like Rupali Bhatnagar of Sula) and producers (like Uma Chigurupati of KRSMA and Kiran Patil of Reveilo Wines) who are on the latest List of delWineTop Ten WOW (Women of Wine) in India.
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DelWine would raise a toast to the young lady with a Jai Ho and wish her success and would encourage more women to take the less travelled path of wine making or winemaking and hope that some of our readers will visit the vineyard and stay at the beautiful property.
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