Nashik is India’s most prolific wine-producing area, located some 135 kilomteters (85 miles) north-east of Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra. The wine industry here has been growing steadily since the mid-1990s, and now there are around 40 vineyards spread throughout the area.
Tropical white wines and fruit-driven red wines are made here. Grape varieties used include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc.
Vineyards are situated in the land around the city of Nashik, from the town of Dindori in the north to Sanjegaon 50km (30 miles) to the south. The hilly terrain peppered with lakes and rivers provides a multitude of well-drained, sun-drenched sites for grape-growing.
Nashik is affected by the South Asian Monsoon, a weather system which brings cool, moist air from the Indian Ocean. This collides with hot, dry air from the Thar Desert in the north of India.
Heavy rain occurs between June and September. This corresponds with important stages of the northern hemisphere’s growing season. Careful measures must be taken by Nashik’s vignerons to ensure that budburst is delayed until after the monsoon is finished.
Fortunately, Nashik’s tropical latitude means there is little seasonal variation in temperatures. The growing season can be adjusted so it corresponds with that of the southern hemisphere.
The land surrounding Nashik – itself at the northern end of the Western Ghats mountain range – is at an altitude of around 600 meters (2000ft) above sea level, further moderating the climate for the production of premium wines.
During Nashik’s moderated growing season, hot, sunny days are followed by cooler nights that slow the ripening process. This high diurnal temperature variation allows for the development of acidity alongside rich varietal character in the grapes.
The free-draining, fertile soils in Nashik are well suited to viticulture. Onions, tomatoes and table grapes grow succesfully here as well. Vineyard sites on slopes with good air drainage help to minimize the negative effects of humidity. Wide spacing of vineyard rows reduces the risk of fungal vine diseases such as mildew by allowing for the movement of air in the canopy.
Sula Vineyards is arguably Nashik’s most prominent producer and is widely credited with introducing Vitis vinifera to the region, as well as raising the profile of Indian wines worldwide. The acreage under vine is growing quickly in Nashik and it is attracting viticultural interest from around the world. Most famously, Moët Hennessy has begun to produce a sparkling wine in the region.