Meet Raj Patel, the Gujarat-born American Indian, whose brand of wine was served at the State dinner hosted at the White House for our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Raj’s journey into the world of wine-making began 20 years ago while working as a lab intern for Robert Mondavi Winery. His passion for wine led him to establish Patel Winery, a first-generation wine producer, competing with established vineyards and creating a bouquet of high-end red and white wines.
Passion for Wines
Raj’s early exposure to the art of wine-making at Robert Mondavi Winery ignited his passion for superior-quality wines. Although he initially worked in the finance industry, he never forgot his dream of starting a wine business. In 2007, after years of planning and saving, Patel Winery was born, producing its first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Raj’s ultimate goal is to create Bordeaux-style red wines and own a winery of his own in the future.
Napa Valley Nuances
Patel Winery follows a meticulous approach to wine production. Raj sources handpicked, hand-sorted grapes from premiere Napa Valley vineyards, believing that great grapes are the foundation of exceptional wines. His mission is to produce the finest Bordeaux-style red wine, reflecting the uniqueness of each vineyard and sub-appellations of Napa Valley. Raj’s personal favorites include wines from Napa Valley, Bordeaux, France, Piedmont, Italy, and Champagne, France.
Pairing Indian Food with Wine
Patel Winery’s wines appeal to a diverse clientele, with over 50% of customers being of Indian origin. Raj notes that wine has become fashionable in the Indian community worldwide, and more Indians are now pairing it effortlessly with Indian cuisine. While some global liquor brands are creating specific blends or cocktails with Indian spices, Raj trusts his clients to decide what they enjoy his wines with. Patel Winery’s wines complement Indian curries and dishes that range from bland to medium-spicy.
Business Model and Winemaking Process
As Patel Winery doesn’t grow its own grapes, Raj follows a business model that involves leasing land from grape producers, ensuring flexibility to adjust to their growth targets. The winemaking techniques remain traditional, capturing the uniqueness of each vineyard to give each wine its personality. Patel Winery’s limited production of 1000 cases per year reflects the intense demand for premium vineyard fruit in Napa Valley. The wines are aged in new French oak barrels for added complexity and aroma.
Premium Range and White House Honors
Patel Winery’s wines are priced between USD 60 and USD 170, appealing to high-net-worth individuals and connoisseurs who appreciate the quality and craftsmanship. About 60-70% of each vintage is sold directly to consumers through the website, with the rest distributed to wholesalers and fine dining restaurants across the USA and six other countries.
The highlight of Raj’s journey came when his Cabernet Sauvignon was served at the White House State Dinner hosted for Prime Minister Modi. Raj expressed his honor at having Patel wine featured at such a prestigious event, representing the best that America has to offer.
Raj Patel’s remarkable success as a wine producer showcases the entrepreneurial spirit of a Global Indian, breaking barriers in the wine industry with his passion and dedication to producing exceptional wines.