Monday, May 3, 2010

The Wanderer: Grover Vineyards, Doddaballapur, Near Bangalore

If you are thinking grape crushing, dancing, eating, drinking and general leisurely pursuits forget it. This is India and we love Indianizing everything, particularly if we don't understand it.

Our guide for this visit was a French lady who felt much at home. (We were told later by some friends that she grew up in her father's vineyard in France and had come to India for an educational tour to get exposure into the wine brewing business here.) As she laboriously explained the history of the vineyard, types of grapes used for cultivation and when to pick them, I wore a resigned look. When a very beautiful lady animatedly tries to speak English with a French accent, I have to give up since I don't know where to look – at her mascara (Must be fake eyelashes), blush (God! When will they understand that you can only tan in India), outfit (how do they get to be so thin on a diet of chocolate and wine?), or just roll my eyes to heaven requesting god to make her more understandable.

Just as I realized the waste potential of this visit, eureka struck. I jumped into action asking my husband to click some half a dozen pictures of me in various poses near the grapes, touching the vines, standing resignedly in a side profile…..

The factory smelt of sour grapes (I am not sure why I assumed it would be otherwise). There were vats of all shapes, sizes and material inside. In another barely lit room there were barrels full of the wine left for fermenting. As we moved towards the bottling section, it struck me that we were doing a reverse tour of the factory.

We ended at the entrance of the factory where freshly plucked grapes were being loaded into a crushing machine. Yes. That explained the lack of leisurely enthusiasm among the inmates. When a machine replaces a wide bucket of ripe grapes waiting to be crushed, you can forget about barefoot dancing and merrymaking. What you get is "Business as usual" with people in uniforms, shower caps and gloves carefully loading every bunch of fruit. And so with a heavy heart, I moved to the wine sampling session.

6 glasses set beside each seat. This, I felt, was set up to put me to shame. For starters I am no wine connoisseur (in fact, I don't even drink the stuff). Further the French lady consoled me suggesting I smell the stuff instead of tasting it. Big Insult, considering my sense of smell is only marginally better than an earthworm's. The result – Husband happily drank my share of wine, posed a zillion times and got tongue tied trying to pronounce the French names. Thankfully, a child in our group rescued me by bawling his lungs out on being refused to sample wine. That definitely marked the end of the wine tasting and our visit to the vineyard.

Make your trip Jhakaas by:

  1. Speaking to the workers on the vineyard. They will give you a de-glamourized version of everything starting with the owner of the place to the plants in the English you will understand. In case you don't, they also speak Hindi, Kannada and Telugu.
  2. Once the tour of the factory is over, turn around and repeat the route – this way you will understand all the processes in sequence. Watch out for grapes/ grape juice on the floor.
  3. Reading up on the company online. It has many firsts to its credit.
  4. Some wine enthusiasts also conduct this tour and the verdict is that they do a better job.

How not to lose your way:

Head North on the way to Bangalore International Airport. At Jakkur Airfield, take the left fork of the road. Cross Angsana Spa and travel about 10 km further until encountering railway line. Take a right from the second railway line. When in doubt, ask the locals for "Grover Wine Factory".

Cost: Rs 500 per head. Includes cost of vineyard visit, factory tour and wine sampling.

Disappointments:

You cannot purchase wine at the factory.  You cannot order for single bottles to be home delivered. The minimum order is for 6 bottles. So, approach the wine tasting session with a motive.

5 comments:

  1. why so much sarcasam and pessimestic drive in the tone of your blog - cheer up babe you can do better

    ReplyDelete
  2. Grovers do not have a 24x7 contact no. at the winery for visitors . The lone office no. on the website would be off on Holidays . Without information, how do you promote wineyard tourism , especially on holidays when you have the maximum visitors ?

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  4. nice article, but no need for the personal vendetta against the French lady just because you don't understand her dialect :)

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