Kerry Damskey, the Master Winemaker at Sula was in India recently at an event hosted by Sula. At the event, he took the guests through an exquisite tasting session of some of the peculiar wines from Sula. Kathryn B K met Damskey at the tasting session to know more about his love for wine and his journey with Sula all these years.
Famously known as a 'Wandering Winemaker' and widely referred to as the 'Indiana Jones of Winemaking', Kerry Damskey, the Master Winemaker at Sula has been instrumental in winemaking for India's leading wine producers Sula Vineyards.
Winemaking in India reached new heights under Damskey 's supervision with Sula Vineyards. He was influential in transforming Nashik, an area known for its history of growing table grapes, to a place that is today acclaimed as the 'wine capital' of India. Under his guidance, close management and with his expertise in winemaking from across the world, Sula Vineyards began cultivating wine grapes in Nashik.
WINE - DAMSKEY'S FIRST LOVE
Born in San Francisco, in a middle-class family, Damskey is among the youngest of three siblings. He was passionate about wines since a very young age. "Wine became my passion, my life and that's what I did in the day, at night and I don't think that has really changed much even today. I learned how to become a very good winemaker from different climates, then I slowly started becoming an international winemaker and 1 think that took me to the next level," says Damskey. He studied from masters of wine for a number of years which gave him a global perspective of wine and he started making wines in other places.
JOURNEY WITH SULA
The formation of Sula started around 1998 about 17 years ago in Nashik, Maharashtra by Rajeev Samant, who had just entered the nascent wine industry in India. During one of his travels for Sula, Samant happened to meet Damskey and Samant's idea of setting up a winery in India aroused Damskey's interest thereby kick-starting Sula Vineyards' glorious and legacy-making expedition in India.
India is Darnskey's second home as he comes to the country thrice in a year. "I really fell in love with India. There is something magical about this country; it is a combination of beauty, chaos, colors, wonderful people, and great food. India has become an integral part of my life since Sula," says Damskey.
Indian had an untapped opportunity when Damskey visited India for the first time in terms of beverage and he wanted to immediately separate the wine from spirits because Indians were drinking whiskeys and beer and were new to wines. When it comes to wines, India is still at a nascent stage, says Damskey, but he also believes that wines are here to stay as a beverage that goes well with food.
"Indians culturally never drank wine and they were never exposed to it, but they don't have anything against wine. Educating that wines are different than spirits is important," says Damskey.
Wine enhances food and food enhances wine, believes Damskey. "Wine pairings are fine, but I think the most important part of wine pairing is finding the wine that you like and then any food would go with it. Wine should just be free and flowing, you drink what you like."
When you try Sula wines, they are all going to be consistent in the style but they are not going to taste the same because there are different varieties, concludes Damskey.
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