The Vineyard In Your Backyard
A couple of hours from fabulous Hampi lies another fascinating site: the Krsma Winery
Once the seat of the greatest of South Indian civilisations, the ruined city of Hampi is a fascinating place to visit. Four dynasties of the Vijayanagara Empire ruled a vast kingdom over a period of more than two centuries (1336-1565 AD). And wine was very much part of everyday life. The Ramayana tells the story of how King Sugriva’s private vineyard on the outskirts of Hampi was plundered by a marauding band of vanaras who were celebrating Hanuman’s successful search for Sita.
Driving two hours to the north of Hampi, us, modern-day visitors were rather more welcome as we wound our way slowly up the small hill where the KRSMA winery is located. Named for a union of the first names of the founders Krishna Prasad and Uma Chigurupati (Krs-Ma), the story of how this winery came into being is rapidly becoming the stuff of legend.
The young Krishna first tasted wine as a schoolboy through the local bishop who had imported some from the Vatican. Hooked at first sip, he then began to experiment by producing them in his backyard. Then the business of real life took over and he spent the next two decades building up a very successful granules business before returning to his passion in 2007 with his wife. The opportunity came in the form of the distress sale of a parcel of land that was under wine cultivation by a local farmer’s cooperative at that time.
While the limestone, mineral-rich soil and dry weather with minimal rainfall were ideal for grape cultivation, other challenges of the terroir were daunting. Water had to be pumped from three kilometres away, the rocky nature of the ground meant no topsoil and trained manpower was scarce in this remote outpost. Little by little, through sheer grit and determination, Krishna and Uma overcame these obstacles and the proof of their blood, sweat and tears now stands in a wine that has won accolades on the world stage. A remarkable achievement given that they have been around less than a decade.