Fratelli Vineyards : Tasting Heaven in a Glass
Fratelli Vineyards : Tasting Heaven in a Glass
It was hot outside, the roads were a bit dilapidated for at least half of the total distance from Pune to well-named village Akluj and although I knew that I am a nonchalant drinker satisfied with the kick of beer, whiskey and sometimes rum, I still decided to try what they call it ‘drink of the elite’ and get down to the basics. And so, I called a friend, hit the road and reached the destination and came to the conclusion that this was possibly one of the most amazing experiences that I have had in life lived so far at the Fratelli Vineyards.
I think, of all the Gods, Jesus was the best and closest to being a superhero for the entire humanity because he turned water into wine and man I have never felt more love in little sips, overlooking the sunset and light music falling in my ears. After a ride of around 168 Km from Pune to Akluj via Mumbai-Solapur highway, a glass of pure white wine welcomed us to Fratelli Vineyards, a large estate spread across 240+ acre land in three sites at Motewadi, Garwad and Nimgaon. India’s premium wine brand Fratelli, meaning ‘Brother’ was set up in 2007 to produce and acquaint the people of the country with the best wines. The Indo-Italian venture included the Secci Brothers from Italy and Sekhri Brothers and Mohite-Patil brothers from India, and is using the centuries-old Italian wine making traditions at par with the international standards.
On arrival, we rested our tired bodies in our comfy room with wide window frames that opened to soul pleasing landscape. After feeding our Buddha belly with home-cooked food made by the local chefs, the management took us to the production and processing unit that left us awestruck. The huge 58 tanks imported from Italy stored the wine, both red and white and the staff members took the pleasure in acquainting us with the entire process of wine making from harvesting of the grapes to processing and bottling wine for distribution.
Before losing our minds over the technicality of wine making, that includes selecting the right kind of grape, using the desired amount of pulp, storing the pulp in the best conditions and processing it for the final product, we were taken to the dark chamber: the wine cellar that stored huge barrels filled with wine kept for aging process to play its charm. It was quite intoxicating to be standing in the climate monitored cellar, discovering wooden barrels containing amazing collection of wine, kept for months and with the flavors that have perhaps, never been tasted before.
I remembered my first time of tasting wine at a family dinner few years ago. It was the best kept secret that rested in the cupboard for years before it was opened and served to us. Words like fully matured, balanced, dark, smoked flavor, smooth texture, dark flavor etc. made absolutely no sense then. Not that, I suddenly became a connoisseur after years of attending fancy parties and learning the exact trick to taste wine, but after a few embarrassments later at dinner table, I found myself standing at the stage where I could call myself a lover of wine. Alas, I spoke too soon because the wine tasting session during the dinner time at Fratelli made me go back to the years of family dinner.
The kind manager Chris, with over 15+ years in the wine industry introduced us to the nuances of the wine making process, the taste of the reds and the whites and the development of the texture and palate balance and even the different glasses used for different wines. Yes! It is a deep study and maybe few years down the line, I may venture into the field but that’s a story for another day.
Coming back to the dinner table, we talked about how Fratelli vineyard has around 12 different grape varieties planted, imported from France. Some 350,000 wine saplings were specially handpicked by Piero Masi and his team, imported from France and Italy and planted in Akluj, whilst monitoring the climate and soil conditions to produce the best standardized wines. With theory, came the practical approach as we sat with him and came one by one, the varieties of wines such as Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc , Shiraz Rose and those the names that I could only pronounce when sober. And what came with them, you ask? Well, of course authentic red sauce spaghetti and cheese, lots of cheese. What followed later were conversations about travel, society, relationships, politics, sitcoms and the company of good people. We slept thereafter peacefully only to be ready for the ultimate experience the next day.
Away from the city lights and noisy streets were we, two people who found themselves a tad hungover and quite familiar with the wine making the next day. We quickly had our lunch and with gear and equipment in our hands, headed towards the main gate where stood the open jeep that was ready to take us to the 240 acres of vineyard. We crossed beautiful landscape, fields that grew pomegranates and other vegetables, meadows that looked postcard worthy and village to reach the virgin land where each slope grew graded and the best quality grapes. For a moment, I saw myself walking in Tuscany fields and had to snap myself back to reality that that, was in fact, India but no lesser beautiful than any European country. The rows of grapes were spread as far as our eyes could see and since it was the time for harvest, we were lucky to have tasted the fully grown grapes that were ready to be processed. After a few clicks, more sips and sunset viewing later, we headed back to the main location soulfully happy.
Since it was our last night of the weekend, we were treated with special barbeque night and the ultimate surprise. The signature selection of wines under the brand MS and Sette were formed collaboratively by Fratelli’s chief wine maker and Oenologist Piero Masi and veteran connoisseur Steven Spurrier touted as the Opus One in India. These wines that we had the last night were dropped from the heavens apparently and the only word that came to my mind for the late night hours spent there under the star lit sky was: divine. I couldn’t help but agree with Benjamin Franklin who wrote that ‘… wine is a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.’ I was happy, we were happy and the weekend at Fratelli vineyards in Akluj gave us the right kick, both figuratively and literally.
In the morning, we received special package containing our favorite wine bottles from the management before we left for our homes. Bless the one who thought that the juice of the grapes would become the most quintessential drink of all times. Cheers!
More photos on my Instagram
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