Owners Pandit and Sudha Patil had a long-standing dream to own a vineyard one day and in 2009, Narmada Winery was established in Rappahannock County, VA.
They eventually settled down in northern Virginia after Pandit had earned his Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. Sudha was then able to pursue her Dental studies, earning a BS in Chemistry at George Mason, her DDS from Georgetown, and a certificate in Endodontics and Masters in Oral Biology from the University of Maryland.
Throughout their married life, Pandit and Sudha traveled the globe and kindled their passion for fine wine. They found their careers rewarding and had two children, Susheel and Prema.
Start of the Winery
As years passed, Pandit and Sudha started to plan for their eventual retirement. At the couple’s 29th Anniversary dinner at the renowned Inn at Little Washington, the plan to plant a vineyard took shape. On this visit to Rappahannock, Pandit and Sudha discovered a gently rolling piece of land on which to build their dream.
At this time, Virginia was just starting to be known as a quality wine-producing region. The Patils brought in Pat Peacock from Virginia Tech and noted Virginia Viticulturist Lucie Morton, who performed climate and soil studies and advised the couple on which varietals would thrive in these circumstances. The first vineyard was planted in 2004. Several more acres were planted the following year and today is standing at 20 acres.
Journey into Winemaking
Sudha and Pandit initially intended only to grow the fruit to provide to other Virginia vintners, however Sudha’s curiosity about the winemaking process grew and she began reading everything she could on how to vinify wine. As her interest increased, she commenced studies with Jim Law of Linden Vineyards, one of Virginia’s premier winemakers. Today Sudha refers to Jim as “the Guru of Virginia Wine!”
Meticulous work in the vineyard, including such labor-intensive techniques as cane pruning, brought forth banner harvests in 2007 and 2008. Today, Sudha continues to closely monitor the vines throughout the growing season. She scouts the vineyards regularly to ensure that the fruit is healthy and sprays only as needed to prevent pests and other issues. Minimal intervention is part of the sustainable farming philosophy that Pandit and Sudha hold dear.
The Patils then began construction on their own winery facility in 2009. Consulting enologist Tom Payette was brought on board to guide Sudha through her first few crushes. Tom has remarked that because of her background in chemistry, she quickly became adept at the lab work necessary to create a flawless wine! Tom retains his position as a Consultant to the winery today and assists Sudha with wine making and blending trials regularly.
The combination of Art and Science is a given in making wine. Sudha’s competence in both areas has made Narmada Winery something special right from the start. With attention to using the best quality grapes, diligent sorting of the berries, and maintaining proper chemistry of acidity and pH, Sudha’s medical background ensures clean processing of the fruit from harvest through the aging process.
Sudha’s knowledge of complex spices acquired during her childhood in India enable her to coax latent flavors from her grapes that perhaps would be overlooked by others. Her focus is to create graceful wines that are a true reflection of the fruit and to produce Virginia wines of the highest possible quality.
This goal has been evident even since Narmada Winery released its first wines to critical acclaim. Gold medals were awarded to Narmada Primita in 2009, and to Narmada MOM – the winery’s signature blend – as well as to Narmada Viognier in 2010. In the following years, Narmada wines have achieved more than 40 gold medals in national and international competitions!
Looking to the future, Sudha Patil want to remain a small, boutique-sized winery producing no more than 5,000 cases a year. It remains essential to Sudha to keep her hands-on approach to Narmada wines with fruit-forward flavors taking the lead and a commitment to the finest quality attainable in Virginia wine.