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WOW 2015: Rupali Bhatnagar-Winemaker at Sula

Posted: Monday, 27 April 2015 11:47

WOW 2015: Rupali Bhatnagar-Winemaker at Sula

April 27: Indian Wine Academy and delWine had pioneered the concept of selecting Top Ten Women of Wine in 2013 in order to recognise and motivate women to work and excel in the Indian wine industry as winemakers, sommeliers, marketers, educators and journalists. Starting the 2015 Series, we are pleased to welcome Rupali Bhatnagar, a senior winemaker at Sula Vineyards to WOW; the others follow suit in the subsequent issues of delWine

Click For Large ViewRupali Bhatnagar is arguably India’s best sparkling winemaker today with more than 8 years experience crafting Sula’s traditional method sparklers, Sula Brut and Sula Rose Brut. Over the past few years Rupali has been instrumental in vastly increasing the quality and sophistication of these wines, which have set the benchmark which all Indian sparkling wines would be judged against.

Those are the words of Rajeev Samant, founder CEO of Sula Vineyards.

Rupali has obviously come a long way after getting Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology in 2006 from the University of Mumbai. She works as Deputy General Manager & Senior Winemaker Sparkling wines at Sula Vineyards, handling the entire Sparkling wine production at Sula, now touching around 60,000 cases a year.

During the 8 years, she has handled other portfolios of supervising lab analysis, production planning, monitoring wine stability, quality control and rejection handling. She has also been an active chairperson on the safety committee and part of the welfare committee for women employees at Sula. She has hands on experience in handling all issues starting from grapes to the bottled wine.

She started her career with Sula as a Lab-technician in 2006 and learnt the nitty-gritty of lab wine analysis, giving inputs to the microbiological analysis of various contaminants in wine and developed with the help of the Winemaker several Standard Protocols for isolation of wine micro-organisms.

Thanks to her hard work, she was promoted twice as Assistant Oenologist and Assistant Winemaker in 2 consecutive years. She handled many cellar functions including working on blending, filtration and stabilization of red and white wines. She also worked extensively on tirage bottling of sparkling wines. Owing to the hard work in this area she was promoted as an Associate Winemaker in Sparkling Wines and was given the entire charge of sparkling wines in 2010 when she worked on the “Methode Traditionelle” for sparkling wine production of Brut and Brut Rose besides working on an Asti-Spumante style white wine.

She was promoted as “Winemaker – Sparkling wines” in 2012 and was awarded as the “Best Employee” for the first Quarter of 2012. During this time, she worked on many trials with different varieties to bring up the quality of the Brut as well as the Brut Rose. This involved use of traditional Champagne and Cremánt varieties of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir besides non-traditional varieties like Shiraz, Viognier, Riesling and Zinfandel. She was also instrumental in working with different types of dosage including barrel aged wines for making the liqueur d’expedition. A lot of work also went in improving the quality of the Sparkling Rose which has won many awards.

Rupali has travelled several times to Champagne to learn more about the sparkling wine process. She is very motivated and seems to be enjoying her work to the fullest. She is now working with different yeast strains. What is her objective during the next 3-5 years? ‘I believe my goal is to express my ideas through my work in Sparkling wines and with the many developments that are possible in this wonderful field of winemaking,’ she tells delWine.

Rupali breaks the myth that women cannot be good winemakers. She is a role model for young women who want to enter the wine industry and make winemaking as a career. We welcome Rupali Bhatnagar, DGM and Senior Winemaker Sparkling wines at Sula Vineyards as a new entrant.

Subhash Arora

WOW is a biennial feature of Indian Wine Academy and delWine, constantly on the search for women who are actively involved and currently focusing on about 95 of them pan India. The entrant to our Hall of Fame must have continuously been engaged in the industry for at least 5 years and will continue to be in the profession during the next three years at least. They ought to be ordinarily residents of India. Preference is given to those who are directly in production, followed by marketers, educations, sommeliers and journalists excluding PR specialists. We do not current rate or rank them due to non homogeneity. The names in the list will be released in a random fashion in this column; the final list will be in alphabetical order. Any suggestions are always welcome at

For earlier article click WOW: Top Ten Women of Wine in India 2013

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Wine Geek Says:

Many congratulations to Rupali and all the other women who will be featuring in the top 10. I would say Congratulations to all the Women no matter what number they rank at. We do Appreciate women and I believe they have all the rights to stand next to men In all walks of life. A big kudos to all the women in all the industry including wines. A Woman always adds grace and Panache to any given Business and Wine(unlike other Alcoholic drinks)itself is a very niche and a sophisticated business. We always encourage women to join any industry as by doing that they won't be dependent on Men. These days somehow Men are not treated as equals in the Industry. They are certainly not treated higher than Women. some big Hotels In Mumbai are looking for a female Sommelier Specifically. We are not against a woman taking up the job but Shouldn't men have equal opportunity to work in a field of his passion? And If the Female candidate is skilled enough then there is definitely no shame in loosing out on the position But being rejected upfront saying "We are only Looking for female candidates for this position" is in a way being biased against Men. In Initial Days Sommeliers In India were not selected as big hotels were looking for European/International sommelier. Now the requirements are relaxed sightly as they are looking for Women as their sommeliers. Where do men stand a Chance. I am working currently and quite happy with what I am, Where I am but Sommelier's anyways are paid less than what they deserve and moreover now companies only want girls. This is very wrong... What do you think Subhash Ji?

Posted @ May 01, 2015 10:32


Subhash Arora Says:

Thanks Sharad, We at IWA and delWine look upon women as equals created by God-no more no less. They are capable of doing anything as well as men. To encourage them to come forward in the wine sector ( (and help reduce the negative image of wine as liquor!) I conceptualise WOW Top Ten, in 2013. Currently we are featuring every alternate year. We keep every woman in the wine profession under radar. At present we dont rate them as they are from varied sections but we do need them to be active in it for 5 years. I hope we have more of them joining in directly as winemakers, viticulturists, sommeliers and full time marketers. We will release one name every week -to make it interesting. Subhash Arora

Posted @ April 29, 2015 14:37


Sharad Phadnis Says:

I sincerely appreciate the concept idea of Indian Wine Academy in Awarding 10 best women working in Indian Wine Industries in various positions. This would also help wine culture to grow and women in that respect can spread the word and speak good about wine in the society which have still not understood wine culture fully. Kudos to IWA & Delwine for taking the initiative in this direction. NWLC have shared this article on its club page. Well done Subhashji.

Posted @ April 29, 2015 13:30


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