Virginia’s Narmada Winery pays homage to Indian culture


Courtesy of Julekha Dash

Honor Indian heritage and family ties

Patil attributes the winery’s success to the Virginia wine community as well as a distinctive Indian influence. On weekends, customers can pair their wines with samosas, chana masala (chickpea curry), spinach, and butter chicken.

“A lot of people don’t know that you can pair Indian cuisine with wine,” Patil says. “People are surprised to try Indian food with wine. Nobody offers that.”

Viognier, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Chardonel (a white seyval and chardonnay hybrid) are among their best grape varieties. The wines and the name of the winery honor the family’s Indian heritage. “Narmada” is the name of both a river in India and Sudha Patil’s mother-in-law, who sacrificed herself for the education of the family. “My mother-in-law actually sold some of her gold jewelry to buy the plane ticket,” so her son could study in the United States, Patil says. “They didn’t have a lot of money, but she made sure everyone was educated.”

Indian influences seep into the wine in other ways as well. Made from white vidal and thistle grapes, Narmada’s 2018 Legacy vintage pays homage to family and heritage with its lush notes of mango, a fruit popular in India.

“My husband would ask me all the time, ‘Can you make something with mango?’ Patil said. And that’s why we call it Legacy.

The winery also invites customers to celebrate Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights and the Holi Spring Festival. This year, Narmada hosted a socially distant Holi celebration by offering flower petals to each table for customers to throw at their companions.

Before the pandemic, for the celebration of Diwali, the winery staged a fireworks display and performed Bollywood tunes while guests danced. One year, Patil’s professional daughter-in-law offered dance lessons.

Patil says she is now ready to sell the winery, although she could stay on as a winemaker. She hopes the next owner will continue to honor the winery’s South Asian heritage in an industry that has always lacked diversity.

Many first-generation immigrants, Black Americans and other minorities often lack the generational heritage or knowledge that would facilitate entry into the wine business, says Phil Long, owner of California’s Longevity Wines and president of the Association. of African American Vintners. The association sponsors scholarships and supervises colored winegrowers.

“With people like the Patils following their hearts and overcoming obstacles in their path, we are starting to move forward in creating a more diverse wine industry,” said Long. “People of all cultures need to understand that wine can be a career. path for them. This only happens if they see people who look like them are successful in the wine business. “


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