The Guru Of Grapes - Rajat Parr
The MAN|February 01, 2020
This Kolkata-born American winemaker is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest sommeliers. Yet, we go beyond grasping the grape with Parr. Past the sensory and into the spiritual, we discover ‘in vino veritas’ because — as it turns out — running a vineyard these days is the perfect metaphor for life
Sonali Velinker Kamat

THERE’S A palpable enthusiasm amongst wine aficionados when Rajat Parr’s name is mentioned. The 47-year-old American sommelier-turned-winemaker is a rock star in this realm. Mentored by legend Larry Stone at Rubicon in San Francisco at the onset of his career, Parr has since served as Wine Director for Chef Michael Mina’s award-winning restaurant group in the United States. Today, with vineyards across California and a critically-acclaimed portfolio of Sandhi, Evening Land and Domaine de la Côte wines, Rajat Parr is considered one of the world’s greatest sommeliers. The fact that he was born in Kolkata makes him a home-grown hero too and, of course, that results in an immediate sense of kinship when we meet him for a master class in Mumbai.

Dressed in a baseball cap, chambray shirt, and khakis for the occasion, Parr is an anomaly in a room full of sharp suits. Prior to all the wine-swirling, we sit down for a quiet tête-à-tête. It isn’t long before I realize that ‘Raj’ sees himself more like a farmer than as an internationally-acclaimed winemaker, despite his staggering reputation. “Wine is maybe on too high a pedestal,” he says with a soft smile when I ask about the froufrou image that is often associated with his industry. “Wines are a lot more expensive now than they used to be, and it is sad because that creates a barrier. To me, wine is an amazing beverage to be shared with friends. It builds relationships. It brings joy,” he adds.

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