Founder And Winemaker At Good Drop Wine Cellars – Ashwin Rodrigues

17th May 2024

Interview With The Founder And Winemaker At Good Drop Wine Cellars Ashwin Rodrigues

In this exclusive Glass of Bubbly feature, we sit down with Ashwin Rodrigues, the Founder And Winemaker At Good Drop Wine Cellars, where he shares with us his story, experiences and some bubbly moments.

Tell Us About Yourself & How You Became Involved In The Wine Industry?

“I am a finance professional turned winemaker. Fifteen years ago while living in Sydney, Australia I always wanted to return to the country of my roots and start a business there. In trying to answer the question, “What does Australia have that India needs” I stumbled upon wine thanks to a friend. Then someone pointed me towards Barossa Valley. In a flash, I moved there and spent a year and a half neck deep in grapes – working in vineyards and wineries and studying in the local wine school. My next stop was Sonoma County California, and after doing a harvest season there, I headed to India with a plan and a dream.”

What Influenced You To Create Good Drop Wine Cellars, And Start Producing Your Own Sparkling Wines?

“I always wanted to run my own business doing something different – something that would suit me – a jack of all trades! Making and selling wine was exactly that. I still find myself outdoors in the vineyards, or tinkering with machinery at the winery, learning the chemistry of winemaking, trying to build a cult brand – it’s squeezed every ounce out of me. Why sparkling wine? In one word – market. I figured that Indians loved chilled and carbonated drinks. It’s always hot here! I didn’t want to do the regular reds and whites that everyone else was doing. Most importantly the business had to pay for itself! With this in mind, I started my first brand Rio – a carbonated wine in pint bottles and a ring pull cap. It was an instant success and today it has spawned an entire category in India. From there I ventured into Charmat method sparkling wines – again a first for India. The Charmat style with its freshness and vibrancy appealed to the Indian consumer much more than the traditional method, I dare say.”

What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing Indian Sparkling Wine?

“Producing has not been as difficult as selling. India is a highly regulated alcohol market and it’s a nightmare for small producers to navigate through and survive the red tape. Retailers are limited and typically dictate terms. E-commerce is not legal. Taxes are high. It’s really difficult to get to the consumer.”

How Do You See The Future Of Indian Sparkling Wine?

“The future is bright. India is the world’s most populous country with a median age of 30. Twenty million people enter the legal drinking age every year. Disposable incomes are rising and a large number of drinkers are in an exploratory phase. Sparkling wine is well poised to capitalise on this. And with every rung that India climbs, a bottle of bubbly won’t be far away to pop and celebrate the occasion!”

What Part Of The Wine Making Process Do You Enjoy The Most?

“I think it’s the blending. That’s where all the experience of the winemaker is brought to the fore. Much like a card player, we have to work with the batches we have on hand. We determine the treatments and the final blending ratios, all while keeping in mind the consistency of the brand and attempting to improve it year on year. Sometimes we have to make the tough decision of not releasing a certain brand in a bad year.”

Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?

“Too many to recount! And some I don’t remember… Perhaps those were the best!”

Thank you, Ashwin, for sharing your story and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Photo Credit belongs to Ashwin Rodrigues, Glass of Bubbly was granted permission, to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.