“Working with fruits other than grapes was a challenge when we initially began our winery. ”
Founder of India’s first Chikoo-winery, Priyanka Save discusses the story of ‘Fruzzante’
Jui R Churi
2nd May 2019
Only 3 hours from Mumbai, in the coastal town of Bordi, lies the quaint rustic resort of Hill Zill. Sitting atop a lush green hillock full of chikoo orchards and surrounded by the muddy hutments of the local adivasis, Hill Zill is loved by its set of loyal weekenders who frequent the place for its serene beach, cold breeze and leisurely ambience. However, what really sets this place apart from its other honeypot counterparts is the country’s first chikoo winery located here.
Founded by the Saves, a farmer-family based in Gholvad-Dahanu region of North-Western Maharashtra, Fruzzante is the first of its kind winery to manufacture wine from fermented chikoos along with a range of vegan ciders including wine variants made from pineapple, mango and spice garden (cinnamon, ginger and honey with chikoo).
Talking about her journey towards Fruzzante, Priyanka Save, founder of the winery says, ”My husband and I are both from Gholvad-Dahanu area and we have grown up in the Chikoo orchards, so probably the seeds of our venture were unknowingly sown during childhood itself. Also when the seed borer disease of 2004 hit the local chikoo market and impacted the livelihood of the local farmers, we felt the need to resolve this. From here on began our journey to find ways to use Chikoo which were found in abundance but failed when it came to utilization. After several trial and error chances, we finally zeroed down on the idea of making wine from Chikoo. Thus, Fruzzante was born.”
Set up as a brewery in the family-run resort of Hill Zill, the brand thrives on the principle of least human interference in the process of production and aims to offer 100% unadulterated products made from high-grade farm-grown fruits.
“Working with fruits other than grapes was a challenge when we initially began our winery. Chikoo was our first fruit to work on and probably the toughest of all fruits we have dealt with so far.”, says Priyanka. Talking about the process of production of the wine, she adds, “ It all starts with ripening the fruit to the desired level in chambers which control the natural ripening process rather than ripening using non-organic means. The benefit is uniform ripening and hence better quality of juice resulting in a quality product. The second step is extraction of the juice called “must”. We imported a hydraulic fruit press which is originally used to cold press fruits for cider making. Cold pressed fruits ensure quality juice resulting in quality product.”
Talking about the most crucial part of the process of production, Priyanka says, “The most important part in wine making is fermentation when the sugar in the must is converted to alcohol and wine is made. We strongly believe in simply providing a conducive environment for the yeast to conduct effective fermentation process.”
Although it’s an established fact that 80% of wine is made in the vineyard or in general fruit development and ripening process, the process of fermentation is the key to a quality product. Hence making provisions ensuring that the process of fermentation is carried out in the most effective way is very important. At Fruzzante, the design and fabrication of the fermentation tanks used was done in Nashik with the help of industry experts suiting their requirement.
Talking about the approach of customers towards a new fruit-based wine, Priyanka says, “We have got a good response from the first day of the launch. We feel the timing is right and the consumers are willing to explore new things. This is our biggest source of motivation to add more and more varieties in what we have to offer.”
The wine is widely available in the Dahanu-Bordi region and has recently started appearing in select outlets in Mumbai. You can enjoy the drink for INR 225 for 330ml at Save’s family-resort Hill Zill at Bordi along with a tour of their winery.