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WOW: Top Ten Women of Wine in India 2013-Karishma Grover of Grover-Zampa

Posted: Saturday, 17 August 2013 17:23

WOW: Top Ten Women of Wine in India 2013-Karishma Grover of Grover-Zampa

Aug 17: Indian wine industry is at a nascent stage but many women have taken the plunge in the field of winemaking, marketing, education and journalism, with varying degrees of success. We bring you the first-ever list of Top Ten Women of Wine in India 2013: WOW. We have refrained from ranking them and chosen to keep it generally in alphabetical order. In this edition Subhash Arora focuses on Karishma Grover, Assistant Winemaker of Grover-Zampa vineyards in Bangalore.

Click For Large ViewDuring a casual conversation with Dr. Hildegarde Heymann, a fellow judge at the annual wine competition Mundusvini in Germany about 3 years ago, I learnt that she was a Professor in sensory evaluation at the University of California, Davis. I also knew that Karishma Grover, daughter of Kapil Grover who was then the majority shareholder of Grover Vineyards, had studied at UC Davis before coming back to India and joining the winery as an assistant winemaker. So I asked her if she remembered Karishma. ‘Oh, yes,’ was her instant reply, ‘she was a very good student.’

Karishma Grover had been the undergraduate helper in the Sensory Evaluation Lab for a year in 2006 with the learned professor during her undergraduate work at the UC Davis from 2003-07 where she studied enology.

As a part of her curriculum, she interned with Cakebread Cellars in Napa where she worked extensively with the 2007 harvest in the cellar. She picked up valuable experience in the barrel room including filling, racking and stacking barrels, assisted in the crush and press operations for the grapes and performed pumpovers, punch-downs and rack-and-return daily.

Since her return to India in January 2008, she has been working at the Bangalore Winery as an Assistant Winemaker. With the merger with Zampa in Nashik, her responsibility has increased. In fact, I have met her more in Mumbai and Nashik than in Bangalore. What really impressed me was her charming simplicity and down to earth attitude, despite being the co-owner’s daughter. Last time when I met her in Bangalore, it was late afternoon and she seemed to be in a bit of a hurry with several messages coming to her ears in whispers. Finally, when I asked her what the emergency was, she told me that she travels by the same bus that carries staff back to the city and the bus had been waiting for her only.

‘Generally, I have spent the last few years understanding the Indian wine industry and have gone through the various departments within the company. I was careful to not join the company and then try to change everything. But I spent time understanding the challenges we face - with labels, excise, different states, purchase, etc before pushing for major changes,’ says Karishma.

‘I get asked a lot about being a woman in the wine industry, and many of the problems. In fact, I have not faced many of the problems that I was a bit afraid of. I think mainly it is because I did get my degree in enology. I also came back at a time when there was a lack of technical knowledge in the industry- what I mean is, people with formal training,' she says.

'There are only a handful, so having the backing of Grover, plus my education really worked in my favour. Also, as I am in production (not sales), it's not as male dominant.' Karishma is very passionate about wine and winemaking. She says, ‘being a nascent industry, and one which is being touted as more of a woman's drink (we disagree with that approach totally-editor), it also does not come with the same stigmas as spirits. It is also interesting to see the number of women who are working in the wine industry today in India and worldwide. I did have to prove myself a bit, but for me that was not due to me being a woman, as much as an owners' child. Sometimes you have to work a bit more, to make sure that everyone around is sure that I am here for my passion, and not for convenience.’

‘The main resistance I faced was changing habits - most of our workers have been with us for many years, so it is a slow process to bring about change. 5 years later, and that part is still not any easier! However, now my ideas are not greeted with as much skepticism!’ she says with a charming smile.

'I love what I do now, and where I am working. It is very exciting to be in an industry which is just emerging. It is interesting to see changes in the consumer and also, being a part of changes in the producers' approach to the industry.'

Karishma is the first well-qualified winemaker of India and should be a source of inspiration to women entering the winemaking profession and eventually having their own wines and delWine is very happy to present  Karishma Grover as one of the Top Ten Women of Wine in India. WOW!

Subhash Arora

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Tags: Indian wine industry, Top Ten Women of Wine in India 2013: WOW, Grover-Zampa, Dr. Hildegarde Heymann, Kapil Grover, Grover Vineyards, Karishma Grover

       

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