It was 11 am in the morning when we bid adieu to SRS hills and DevaraKere lake. Channapatna has notable wineries and the tropical climatic conditions here are suitable for grape cultivation yielding great sugar content. We had the whole day with us and we started driving towards Heritage wine tour, which is located in Channapatna. Honestly speaking, I’m not a connoisseur of wines or a tippler, who regularly grabs a drink often. Still, I was curious to know how wines are made, how would it be to walk in a vineyard with grapes in full glory. This inquisitive feeling made me pay a visit to Heritage Winery.
There were two routes to reach – 1. the Mysore road highway and 2. the countryside route via Bylalu to reach Channapatna. Instead of choosing the highway, we chose to ride on countryside road just to take a glimpse of village life. Shady trees along the roadsides, fresh unpolluted air to recuperate, calm lakes and endless green farms. It was worth a drive along this route which soothed our eyes.
We turned right to Channapatna – Halaguru road to reach Channapatna town along Mysore road. After driving for 5kms, near Byrapatna, we took a left turn to enter the vineyard road for 4kms. As we drove along this stretch, we could spot many wine shops and wineries boards occasionally. We did not stop anywhere, we continued straight until we spotted a kaccha mud road. The roads here are muddy and uneven, but not bad to drive / offroad. We could spot fewer people or vehicles on this road. After a kilometre, we reached the destination – Heritage Winery. We parked the vehicle followed by a security check-in.
A board sign – Heritage winery at the entrance welcomed us. We pushed the iron door to enter the winery. For a moment, I could not believe this was a wine factory because they have maintained the atmosphere very good. The oak barrels placed alternately on the way, the bamboo fences made a natural compound internally. We walked in to witness a guest house in the right and winery office and restaurant Epulo. There were creative artistic structures made out of used oak barrels. The wine bottles were stacked up in an orderly fashion making it photogenic. The wine office had some officials attending the tourists interested in a wine tour and buying the wine.
Epulo – Vineyard restaurant
Epulo Restaurant was an open garden seating with tables/benches sprawled across the green grass. The garden had kids play area including swings, see-saws and bouncing beds. It also included rocking wooden horse and an old fashioned cycle to pose for. This appeared as an ideal place to hang out and sip wine with your dear ones. Peaceful and chill out away from the city. We freshened up, occupied one of the tables and ordered the food. They serve fresh wines and corresponding food items – a must try for wine lovers. The food is pretty good here with north Indian and Continental cuisines.
After a fulfilling lunch, we enquired about the wine tour. We paid Rs.250/head and registered for the wine tour. It was 4pm, and we had 20 more minutes for the wine tour, so we started exploring the garden area. We played and enjoyed with the kids. The ambience was good and we really had fun.
About SULA wines
The wine tour guide started the conversation explaining that out of 1000 grape varieties only 600 grapes are suitable for winemaking process. The Heritage winery uses 27 of these 600 grape varieties and prepares the popular Sula wines. They have totally 4 plants in India – Nasik, Maharastra, Bidar and Channapatna.
The first wine here was developed by Rajeev Sawant in 2000. The wines were named “SULA” derived from Rajeev Sawant’s mom’s name – Sulabha. The logo is Indian themed with Sun and tilak making it highlight it is an Indian brand. Kerry Damskey is the CEO at Sula and one of the popular Wine Connoisseurs from California. He is popularly known as Indian Jones of World Wines and known for the reviewing wines all over the world.
The guide took us to the production unit. The short description of wine tour is as below.
- Grape Cultivation – Black and green grapes are cultivated in the hilly regions of Chikkaballapur, Doddaballapur and Nandi hills region. Drip/sprinkler irrigation is used for cultivation. They use sensitive Gerbera plants in between the grapes plants so that any infections can be detected early.
- Seasonal – Oct to March is the best time for grape cultivation with good sugar content level. By Feb / March, we can notice gorgeous grapes on the vineyard ready to harvest. From April to Oct, the grapes cultivated have zero sugar level, so this is an offseason. The entire vineyard is pruned and this is the season for fermentation only.
- Crushing / Stomping – Destemmer is used to remove the stems from grapes. Black grapes are mainly used for Red wine and they crush the skin, pulp including the seeds. In case of green grapes, they extract only the juice to prepare White wine.
- Fermentation – Around 16 to 20 double layered fermentation tanks are used for the process. The coolant – chilled water + glycol is circulated through the outer walls to maintain the optimal temperature. If the temperature is not maintained correctly, it results in the formation of vinegar and is considered useless for winemaking. Over a period of time, sediments are removed, yeast converts all the sugar to alcohol. Each tank will be examined for sugar and alcohol percentage by labs at various steps. It takes around 18 to 20 months for red wine fermentation – That’s almost 1.5 to 2 years :O
- Filtration – After successful fermentation, the wine will be filtered from sediments and yeast using traditional filtration techniques.
- Package -After blending to obtain different varieties of wines, it takes 30 days for bottling. The wines are bottled up and sealed by an automatic process. The bottles are stored in a warehouse and shipped to various destinations.
At the end, they mainly produce popular wines such as Dry Wine, Rose, Sparkling wine and Port Wine. Each of them has different levels of alcohol. If the alcohol content is less than 14%, then they are considered as Natural wines.
Sula has decided to take up the cause of the magnificent tiger with Kādu, India’s first “wine for a cause”. With each bottle of Kādu sold, Sula will contribute to tiger conservation within Karnataka. To ensure the optimum end-use of the funds contributed, Sula is collaborating with the Sanctuary Nature Foundation.
We were taken to a tasting room, in which we had four types of wines to taste – one was white wine and 3 of them were red wine. The etiquette of wine tasting is an art by itself. The guide gave us a demo of how to taste the wine right. The steps are as below.
- Look at the wine – Look at the colour of the wine by holding the glass at 45 degrees. If it is deep in colour, it’s a young wine. If the colour is faded, then it’s the more aged and good to taste.
- Nosing the wine – To smell the aromas and good condition of the wine.
- Swirl the wine – So that the aromas in the wine would open up.
- Sipping the wine – When you are sipping make sure it touches all parts of your palette for 5 seconds and then swallow it. By doing this you get to experience the same aroma in your palette when you nosed the wine.
- You need not be a wine connoisseur or who loves to drink. You can understand the winemaking process, the science behind it.
- To learn the etiquette of wine tasting.
- To know the health benefits of wine intake.
- Enjoy a romantic day out in the enticing vineyards of Bangalore.
- It’s also a great place to spend time with friends and family and a different experience altogether.
The day was great with a hike to SRS hills and informative with the Wine tour. Now, I know the etiquettes of wine tasting and the making process. Makes me familiar 🙂
After the wine tour and tasting, it was almost evening 6pm. We had to head back before its late as the roads get lonely without streetlights. Almost 2 hours continuous drive led us to Bangalore.
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- Where? – The Heritage Winery is an 80kms drive from Bangalore on the Mysore highway. You can just follow Google maps and reach here.
- How to reach – The best way to reach here would be via private vehicles. The buses are available till Byrapatna and might have to take an auto from the main road.
- Best time to visit – Jan to March are the best season, as you get to see the grapes harvested in the vineyard.
- Timings – 10 am to 5 pm every day.
- What to expect – Wine tour for 1 hour, Wine tasting ethics, purchase of wines at good prices, restaurant and play area.
- Charges – Rs.250 for wine tour and tasting. Bookings can be made on spot and also cheaper offline. No need of advance booking online. (Better to carry cash, I’m not sure if they have cards. Let me know so I can update).
- Photography – Allowed everywhere.
- Food – Epulo restaurant serves decent food and wine. Dine with wine 🙂
- Facilities – Parking lot, Drinking water and restrooms are available.
- Nearby places – SRS hills, Janapadha Loka.