Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Nasik - India's Wine Country

'She thought of Shanti, who she knew was now in Nasik, living with her granddaughter. Her seemingly ageless body had finally let her down...........Lucky closed her eyes and pictured Shanti lying on a bed in a sunny, well-lit room. Outside her window were the green and fertile rolling hills of central Maharastra.' ( P.192)

Situated 180 km away from Mumbai, on the banks of the Godavari, the second most important river in India, Nasik is an ancient temple town. With pleasant climate all year round and rich fertile soil, it has always been known for its agricultural produce. In the recent past, however, it has emerged as a major wine manufacturing area in India with at least three important wineries in its environs and many more grape farmers.

While discussing the anomaly of Wine making, a distinctly Occidental industry, thriving in a typical Oriental town, my Uncle Jal came up with this theory which I still have not been able to verify or establish. Perhaps it was just one of his imaginary tales or perhaps there is some inkling of truth:

"You see, Baps," he told me, " the British had established a Prisoner of War Camp in Deolali during World War 2 where they kept a lot of Italian POW's . And they say that one of these prisoners had smuggled a stem of a grape vine in his jacket to remind him of home and when he came to Deolali, he planted it in the compound. That is how Nasik had its first European grape which of course multiplied and multiplied till it became a full fledged vineyard!"

Seeing my look of utter disbelief he went on: "Honestly, I know you don't believe me but it's true. In fact, Mussolini's army had a unique tag line to attract potential recruits : Join the Italian Army and see India."

Do you believe this story? I still don't.

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