Karnataka is a melting pot of cultures and experiences. It being one of the largest producers of grape in India, it was only apt to take my parents on a vineyard tour during their four days visit to the state. Few days of intense research and cold calling led me to Heritage Winery, which would soon be rebranded to befit its acquisition by Sula.
This being my first wine tour, I was clueless on what to expect than tasting wines and visiting the vineyard. Exploring a new place on your own can open you up to misadventures, which would not be something to entertain if you are the one planning a family trip, because of which I ended up calling different wineries and visiting multiple review sites. Since one person’s trash is another’s treasure, I had to take reviews with salt. In addition to that, the addresses provided on Google Search and TripAdvisor were different. With its corporate office in Basavanagudi, the vineyards are enroute Mysore after Channapatna. Past Channapatna, there are quite a few boards discreetly placed pointing to a well-maintained path to the left off Mysore Road. Coconut groves, mulberry fields and even corn plantations flank the road to the winery; the view is a great treat for the usual urban populace.
Our tour started with registration, charging three hundred and fifty per head, for an elite package inclusive of vineyard tour, four wines to taste and process and machinery introduction. Heritage Winery was recently bought by Sula Vineyards and is today under renovation to expand the facility and production capacity. We were told that in a few months they would be expanding the vineyard and planting roses and gerberas alongside for early detection of diseases and other detrimental factors. They also have plans of rebranding the facility and dedicating it for ‘Kadu’ brand. Kadu is a sub brand of Sula that contributes a portion of its price towards tiger conservation.
April and September, being harvest seasons at Heritage, are good times to see the vineyards in full swing. During our vineyard visit that lasted five minutes we hardly spotted any bunches on the vines since they were just done with the harvest. On the course of the tour, we were also introduced to the grape stomping area and were explained the different methods of wine making including the traditional and classic ones. We were informed that this was the only place in Bangalore where grape stomping is available throughout the week; the grapes for stomping are sourced from other vineyards to ensure juice content. The mass after stomping is used as fertilizer for the vineyard which is assured to be entirely organic running on self-sustaining water irrigation system.
The tour was informative not only in understanding the wine making process and machineries but also in understanding the nuances of wine tasting. We were each given four varieties from Sula wines: Brut the premium white wine, Reisling a white dessert wine, Dindori a red wine and Chenin Blanc a red dessert wine. It would have been much more enjoyable if they could have provided some cheese, cake, chocolates or even masala peanuts to snack on alongside the drinks. You would be a better judge of your vine while I prefer Brut.
Heritage Winery did not sweep me off my feet but it sure did give me a good experience. Given a chance, I would prefer to spend a day sitting idle on the lawns of the winery munching on something and enjoying a glass of wine. It is definitely a good place to relax and chat with a group of friends over wine and food. With the kind of refurbishing and re-branding efforts they are putting in, the winery will be even more attractive and worth another visit for my curiosity sake. After all, in the words of Martin Luther ‘Beer is made by men, wine by God’.