Narmada’s Unique Winemaker

By Posted on Jul 01 2011 | By

Dentist From India Crafting Fine Wines in Amissville

Is there a doctor in the house?  Indeed, and she’s likely to be found in the wine cellar.  She may also be the only woman winemaker in America who hails from the Republic of India.

Dr. Sudha Patil, an endodontist—or root canal specialist—has over twenty-five years dental experience and is co-owner of Narmada Winery in Amissville, along with her husband Pandit.  She currently practices dentistry in Culpeper three days a week and can be found making wine and greeting winery guests on her days off.  It’s a demanding schedule driven by her love of children and wine.  Pandit retired from the Department of Energy and is a part-time energy consultant.

Sudha’s dental practice focuses on young patients in financial need who are often underserved by conventional dentistry.  “Money does not drive my professional goals.  Working with children who have serious dental issues is gratifying,” says Sudha.

But wine has also been a source of enjoyment throughout the Patils marriage.  Vacations often included visiting winemaking regions around the world.  As their retirement years drew closer, the couple reflected on what second careers they would like to pursue.  “Initially, we simply wanted to farm a vineyard.  Pruning and caring for grapevines is a relaxing pastime that can produce income.  But a few years after working with grapes, we realized making wine was the logical next step,” Sudha says.

Education & Labor
The story of the Patils embodies their commitment to education and hard work.  Pandit received his college education in the states and then returned to India to seek a bride.  “The first young lady I began seeing was Sudha and I looked no further.  It was the best decision of my life. She’s a jewel,” Pandit emphasizes.

Sudha and Pandit Patil

But Sudha drove a bargain with her husband-to-be.  “We knew the chemistry between us was right.  But I asked him if he would put me through college and dental school. I had always wanted to be dentist,” Sudha explains.  Pandit committed to fulfilling her dream and the newly weds moved to America.

Pandit went on to obtain his PhD but it was ten years and two children later before Sudah’s vision became a reality.  She graduated from George Mason University and then Georgetown Dental School before receiving her Masters Degree in Endodontics from the University of Maryland.  Within two years she had created a successful dental practice in McLean, Virginia. Five years ago, she relocated her office to Culpeper to be closer to their Rappahannock County home. The Patil’s have been residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia for 35 years.

The couple’s success extends to their offspring.  The wine lovers have two children with successful careers of their own. Their son, Dr. Susheel Patil, is an Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and practices pulmonary medicine and critical care. He conducts research in sleep apnea.  He has two wonderful boys.  Their daughter, Mrs. Prema Patil Sharma, holds a degree in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech and worked for an international drug development company. She currently serves as part-time Business Manager at the Winery and cares for her 19 month old son.

Sudha studied winemaking and vineyard management under Jim Law, one of the most respected winemakers on the East Coast and owner of Linden Vineyards.  She made her first wines with Narmada’s estate grapes in 2008 at Barrel Oak Winery with the guidance of Tom Payette, their current wine consultant. Her wines include Vidal Blanc, Chardonel, Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Chamboucin, Cabernet Sauvignon and others. Current production is 1,700 cases annually with an ultimate goal of 5,000 cases.

Sudha Patil

The Patil’s purchased their property in 1999 and planted their vineyard and a cherry tree orchard a few years later. In addition to grape wine, plans are to produce a cherry dessert fruit wine when the trees mature. The tasting room has an expansive, wraparound deck that overlooks the vineyard and a lake; wine and scenery are brought together to assure guests a relaxing environment. Their private residence sits on a gentle ridge at the back of the property with a sweeping view of the entire landscape.

Narmada Winery is a unique addition to the Virginia wine scene. It reflects what can be accomplished when talent and industry converge. Moreover, it showcases a heritage known for its beauty and artisan skills.  America’s strength lies in its cultural diversity and now Virginia wine lovers have their own Star of India.

Narmada Winery is opened Thursday through Monday, 11am to 6pm.  Learn more about their wines and special events at www.narmadawinery.com. (540) 937-8215.

Experience India…Taste Virginia.


Published in the June 30, 2011 edition of the Rappahannock News.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES