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Meet Indian Australian winemaker couple Paramdeep and Nirmal!

Param and Nirmal bought 50 acres of cattle farming land in Mornington Peninsula in 1991, while living in Melbourne. Here is their story

Australian wineries are popular the world over. In this week’s special video story, let us take you to a special winery, whose beautiful scenery and wine is popular; but there is something more special about it, and that is their Indian origin owners - Paramdeep and Nirmal who have, very lovingly named their winery, Nazaaray.

Paramdeep is passionate about making wine and with his love and patience; he gives the wine a unique look and flavour.

Paramdeep says, “We came here in 1981 and it’s true that the first time I tasted wine was on the Thai Airways flight I took to come to Australia. Those days they used to serve champagne. I really liked it and from there on I got fond of wine … and thus wanted to learn more about it.”

Param and Nirmal bought 50 acres of cattle farming land in Mornington Peninsula in 1991, while living in Melbourne.

It was on a hillside, exposed to wind from all directions, but it overlooked the verdant landscape and wildlife haven of Greens Bush.

Nirmal laughs about their initial days on the huge plot of land that they bought, “by chance, we ended up buying land in a place where farming for Pinot Noir was done. Initial two-three years, we used to come here and count the cows we had and wonder if all were there or not!

Now, we forget how many we have,” she says.

“The land exceeded our budget and our wildest expectations, but we had no idea what we would do with it,” says Param.

They looked at crops such as olives, fruit trees and speciality produce such as pomegranate, but Paramdeep kept coming back to the dream of creating his own vineyard.

Thus, started their journey as winemakers.

Paramdeep later extended the vineyard, planting more Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay vines, and is now planting more clones of Chardonnay & Pinot Noir.

He opted not to irrigate the rich red basalt clay soil once the vines reached three or four years of age, wanting to force the roots deep into the ground in search of water and a true expression of terroir.

“That's what extracts the real flavours from the minerals in the soil and the volcanic deposits that lie under it,” he says. “Our roots go down about three or four metres, but in Burgundy, some of the roots go down 100 metres.

“Param is one of only a handful of Indian winemakers in Australia, and one of the few winemakers in Mornington Peninsula who make their own wine on their own premises. Grapes are handpicked, wine is handmade and only French oak is used for ageing. Param says he wants to make the very best wine the land can yield, and feels he is about 75% of the way to his goal.

Indian food and wine might seem odd table fellows, but Param says there were vineyards on the foothills of the Himalayas thousands of years ago.

“The Moghuls drank very fine wines – probably from Europe too – and beautiful poetry has been written about Indian wine,” he says.

Nirmal initially served table d’hot Indian lunches at the vineyard, which proved very popular. She now employs a chef and serves buffet-style tiffin lunches of around six different dishes plus accompaniments for up to 60 people. Lunches are generally quarterly.

“If there's a balance between the wine, food and spices, wine works very well with Indian food,” she says.

“Chicken Tikka goes with Pinot Gris, tandoori prawns with Chardonnay, and game such as tandoori quail or duck goes with Pinot Noir. I like to introduce people to different styles of cooking and different Indian regions too.”

But Indian food is not the only unusual aspect of the cellar door.

A pair of brightly painted train carriages were initially used for wine tasting, but when they proved too hot in summer, the tastings were moved to the converted cowshed and finally, a month ago, to a dedicated cellar door with spectacular views.

The carriages are now used for lunches in the cooler weather, along with another small free-standing timber building called 'Elimata' (Aboriginal for 'our camp').

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