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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Tuesday, December 01 2009. 13:15

Riona: Indian Winery with Italian Collaboration

It is not the first time an Italian winemaker will influence Indian winemaking, but Riona Winery is a JV between an Indian and two Italian wineries to produce Indian wine, with the possibility of Italian varietals to be introduced for the first time in India, writes Subhash Arora

Based in Miraj, District Sangli in the south-western Maharashtra, Riona wines made in collaboration with Marche situated Moncaro and Cantina Enzo Mecella will be introduced in 2010. The initial phase will see a roll out of the staple Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Merlot. ‘Chardonnay and Merlot grow very well in Sangli district,’ says Mr. K T Mane, the Indian partner.

‘Rather than taking only the services of a foreign winemaker we decided on a collaboration with Italy’s two leading wine manufacturing company’s namely Terre Cortesi  Moncaro and Cantine  Enzo Mecella. Very soon we are coming up with a full fledge, State of the Art winery of 1.5 million liters capacity, situated in Sangli district in western Maharashtra. Enzo Mecella is also a winemaker and owner of his winery,’ says  Mane.

There is already a presence of Italian winemakers in India with Nashik based Vintage Wines owned by Yatin Patil and Goa based Big Banyan owned by John Distilleries Ltd., already using the services of Italian winemakers to make quality wines. Humpy in Karnataka is also reportedly consulting an Italian winemaker. But Riona’s Italian partners will not only share the equity, but will also help procure the equipment and technology from Italy based on their specifications.

“Riona is a dream to combine Old cultures of Italy and India to introduce to Indian wine connoisseurs a wine steeped in culture made with modern technology.", says Enzo Mecella who is visiting India in  a couple of weeks as a member of a delegation from Marche, that also includes the agriculture minister of the region.

The Marche region is known for a white variety of grapes known as Verdicchio which is well suited to Indian palate apart from being a good match with the Indian food. Besides, the region is known for Sangiovese and Montepulciano grapes which on their own or the blend give very palatable, slightly spicy wines. ‘The varietals under experiment are under way and have been planted to check the suitability to Indian soil, climate and Indian palate,’ adds Mane who says that the company already has 50 acres under cultivation and another 50 acres are under contract farming.

The Italian wine maker for the project is Dr Giuliano D`gnazi, Chief Wine Maker at Terre Cortesi Moncaro assisting the Indian wine maker Dr Rajesh Rasal. A number of wines made by Rasal won awards at the recently held SIWC.

The Italian Collection will be unveiled at a launch event at the Park Hotel on December 14th where Mr Enzo Mecella,will present the wines from Riona’s portfolio.

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