Interview With A Winemaker – Yogesh Popatrao Londhe
30th August 2023
Wine isn’t just made, it’s crafted by the unwavering expertise of a Winemaker, sometimes old traditions are passed down by generations and on other occasions, new people venture into the industry, introducing us to new creations, this series of Winemaker Interviews will help you uncover the vast world and skills of how the artists passionate about wine make the world a bubbly place.
In this feature we speak with Yogesh Popatrao Londhe, an amazing Winemaker from Nashik, Maharashtra, India, let’s discover a little about his time in India’s Wine Industry.
Tell Us About Yourself
“I hold a master’s degree in Winemaking. I am working as a Chief winemaker in Good Drop Wine Cellars Pvt Ltd situated in Nashik Valley (The wine capital of India) in the state of Maharashtra. While pursuing my bachelor’s in wine, I got an opportunity from one of my colleagues to complete my Internship in LVWO Weinsberg, Germany. Those were the days I did not look back or step out from being a Winemaker. In January 2014 thanks to Mr. Ashwin Rodrigues who saw me as a Winemaker, I started my Job as a Chief Winemaker in GDWC, Nashik, Maharashtra. Currently, we are the top 3rd wine manufacturing unit in India. While carrying out my winemaking we achieved more than 50 Awards hosted by Indian Wine Awards, The Consumer Choice Awards and Internationally the Glass of Bubbly Awards in 2017 the Silver Medal for our Casablanca Spumante. As a winemaker of GDWC, I would like to add that we are making entry-level wines like Rio Red and Rio Gold which are 15.5% alcoholic drinks also with Semi sparkling wine same as Frizzano Italian collection and Frizzano Sparkling wines which are purely made by Charmat Method and our flagship sparkling wines same as Casablanca Spumante in white and Rose and also we do RTDs like Spritzers and also we worked for MIKES (Hard seltzer)”
How Did You Become Involved In The Wine Industry?
“I come from a middle-class family, And my family always wanted me to be an engineer or doctor, get settled well with a good degree and job, This is who I am. talking around 2008-’09. But to be eligible for govt. seat was so difficult. So I decided to pursue the Navy, but then I got a new suggestion from a neighbor fellow, why don’t you try Winemaking, as it’s a new and growing industry, most people are not aware of it. govt quota was so difficult. So I decided to move to the Navy but suddenly our neighborhood asked the family, why not wine? As it’s a new concept and Indian people did not know a lot about wine. Though we had more Table grapes (which we are exporting nationally) and resins which I made for the Indian Market, we were unaware of wine grapes. But GARTI shows us a different career in wine. And I’m really thankful to Mr. Rajan Bacchao for showing us something different than an engineer or doctor. This is where I started pursuing my Bachelor’s in GARTI in 2007 and became a part of the wine industry.”
As A Winemaker, What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing Wine?
“That’s a great question. There are a lot of obstacles in the Indian wine Industry.
The first one is Awareness..still, the Indian market does not know about wines, It also has health benefits but there is a lack of awareness about the wines.
The second one is Vineyards. We don’t have any native wine varieties except Bangalore Blue and Bangalore Purple, but still we are struggling with them. Otherwise, we are only having Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, etc. Since the last 3-4 years we have been getting better with clones, quantity yield per hectare, pesticides, etc. but still, I feel there is a long way to go.
It’s the same for equipment like Filters, Destemmer, Pneumatic press, Crossflow Filters Etc. We Still need to depend on other countries. We are still growing, but that’s the fact.”
How Do You Determine When Your Wine Is Ready To Drink?
“Actually it depends on technical parameters but mostly it depends on Taste. So GDWC has a panel for tasting and each and every blend is passed through them. Here we mark every blend and then we decide if it is going to market or not! Also, we check the market feedback with blind tasting and arrange for consumers to meet to check out if it’s good for the Indian Market.
Yes, there is a huge difference between Indian and European wine as Indian wines are made for warmer climates and for Indian consumers that do not be so acidic, but sweeter, more alcoholic and should be matched with Indian food.”
What Part Of The Wine Making Process Do You Enjoy The Most?
“I love working in the vineyards itself with the start to finish winemaking process but as you asked me particularity, Vineyards, as 70% of the wine is made in Vineyards only. If grapes are sound your wine will be smiling. And to work in a vineyard is a bit challenging but if you are an open climate worker then you will like it.
Second I love to help yeast in fermentation. Yeast is the heart of every winemaking. if you can play with it, yeast will play with your wine. so be very specific with yeast and treat them as your colleagues.
And the third one is blending..here it’s a difficult job but it is enjoyable. You need to make whatever possible outcome from the source. Blending is an art. You need to make wine by adding several different wines that are exactly or close to your last year’s wines. As all know the grape quality changes every year due to climatic change but you have to make something similar to your last year’s Wine, that’s something which is most challenging.”
Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?
“I was in a masterclass last year in Mumbai and there I enjoyed my glass of bubbly with Casablanca. I also enjoyed the same when I was on the stage with German winemakers to taste. And my favorite place to taste my wines is our entry gate where there is a neutral environment and I can collect each and every fruit and aroma in wine.”
Thank you, Yogesh, for sharing your words, knowledge and experience with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!
Images belong to Yogesh Popatrao Londhe. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.