New Delhi, Feb 3 : Quantity-wise, most Indians might still have a penchant for hard liquor but there is a growing community that is taking to the culture of wine, says Austrian vintner Michael Moosbrugger, who for the past two decades has headed Schloss Gobelsburg, the oldest winery in the Danube area with a documented history back to the 12th century.
"I do not doubt that quantity-wise, most Indians still have a penchant for hard liquor.
But there is also a growing community that defines itself via the culture of wine. And 'culture' implements the diversity in different aspects of grapes and origins. Gobelsburg is, with its history and traditions, a cultural heritage of Austrian wine and a part of the international wine scene.
So, (whenever) I come to India, I try to explain and communicate this side of the European heritage in winemaking," Moosbrugger, who's quite upbeat about the Indian market, told IANS in an interview during a recent visit here.
"India has today so much to offer when it comes to this emerging culture of food and wine enjoyment.
And whenever I come to India, I meet people who are full of enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and experience new things," he added.
Being a vintner and winemaker, he said he viewed "everything from a long-term perspective".
"Even though the market seems to be small nowadays, it was even smaller when I started to work in India.
So I believe in the Indian market in the long-term and as I love the people and culture I enjoy coming to India to meet those who share the love for good food and wine," Moosbrugger said.
Over the years, he's played a major role in integrating modern technology into older traditions, but cautioned that technology has to be handled with care because in the end "it is always the winemaker who has to decide which tools are appropriate to use to reach a certain expression".
"The way and culture of producing wine has constantly changed in the history of winemaking.
Wine and its expression were always influenced by accurate trends and fashions. In that way wine is also a reflection of a specific circumstance in a society," Moosbrugger explained.
In a way, he felt, winemakers face similar challenges in their task as architects.
"As it is the duty of an architect to express his times in his work, we too, as winemakers, have to do that.
So what comes first? Technology or expression of wine? Technology is a tool and some technologies of the past 150 years have enhanced our possibilities, but at the end it is always the winemaker who has to decide which tools is appropriate to use to reach a certain expression," Moosbrugger added.
He noted in this context the Dynamic Cellar Concept and its refinement, the Cask on Wheels that he evolved.
"The Dynamic Cellar Concept was developed in the late 1990s as this period was marked by some technological changes.
A lot of winemakers were exchanging their old casks against stainless steel tanks. Temperature control fermentation was getting more and more important and the introduction of computer controlled temperature equipment was also a part of that," the vintner explained.
To a certain extent Schloss Gobelsburg also went into that direction, but on the other side, Moosbrugger looked at these old cellars and shuddered at equipping them all with stainless steel tanks.
"So I asked myself what other option do you have? So I thought, maybe we could try to do it just the other way: Instead of bringing temperature to the wine, maybe we could bring the wine to the temperature.
So the idea was to set up different temperature zones and bring the wines either to warmer or to cooler places - depending on the need of the wines.
"In order to avoid pumping the wines constantly from one place to the other, I had to find a solution to bring the wine from place to place.
So this was the beginning of the Cask On Wheels," Moosbrugger added.
What then is his advice to Indian winemakers?
"My advice to Indian winemakers is to develop an own style and own identity for Indian wine.
It is not enough to try to copy wine styles from areas around the world, no matter how old or successful they appear, but to be honest to your soils, your climate and your area.
Wine is a good of culture and my interest is to see an Indian expression in the world of wine," he replied.
Can the Dynamic Cellar Concept and the Cask on Wheels be adapted to Indian vineyards?
"Theoretically it is possible.
However, every winery and winemaker has to find his own way how he/she can handle his environment and circumstances.
The Dynamic Cellar Concept works very well for us and in our context, but with everything in life has advantages and disadvantages," Moosbrugger maintained.
(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)