Situated inside a 90-minute drive of San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County and Palm Springs, Temecula, California, is dwelling to round 50 wineries, together with immigrant- and first-generation-owned Akash Winery. Married couple Ray (born in Uganda) and Nalini Patel (born in Kenya) are of Indian descent and had all the time favored wine and gardening, respectively, however hadn’t labored within the wine business earlier than. In 2010, the household purchased a 20-acre lot, and since then the immigrant American dream has come alive, with a tasting room that opened in 2019, a deliberate resort to be constructed on the property, award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon and rosés, and a brand new enterprise, Akash Brewing. For this version of Voices In Food, Akash Patel, Ray and Nalini’s son and namesake vineyard proprietor, talked to Garin Pirnia about making a vineyard from actually the bottom up, South Asian American illustration, his dad and mom’ journey, and the way he hopes Temecula would be the subsequent Napa.
My dad and mom each emigrated from Africa. They have been refugees and kicked out by [Ugandan despot] Idi Amin, within the ’70s. They went to London, Canada after which ended up in a small city within the states, in New Mexico — that’s the place I used to be born. My dad and mom began a motel enterprise there. They purchased a damaged down motel, mounted it up, ran and operated it, and did it once more to the subsequent one.
In 2001, we moved to Orange County, and my dad stated, “Let’s purchase a motel in Temecula.” So we have been going to purchase a motel in Temecula, however the deal didn’t work out. My dad and mom stated, “Nicely, there’s like 5 wineries out right here. What if we acquired into that and possibly put a resort out right here on that plot of land?” For 10 years, we scoped the world out seeing the way it was going to develop, and it began to develop. And we discovered 20 acres of land, in 2010. [When I was about 20 years old] my dad and mom type of simply checked out me and stated, “Nicely, , if you wish to determine this out, right here you go.”
There weren’t utilities or something — no winery, simply weeds. And so we began from scratch. It took us 9 years to develop it, and I used to be studying develop the winery and work with the county and construct one thing right here within the state of California, which was an enormous studying curve. As soon as the vines have been prepared, we employed a winemaker [Renato Sais], and he’s been by my aspect since 2014. You must be somewhat loopy to have the ability to get within the wine enterprise as a result of it’s not an in a single day enterprise. It’s generational.
“Quite a few occasions, prospects have pulled me apart and thanked me for making a spot the place they really feel welcomed and comfy. They are saying, ‘Typically we go to different wineries and we do not really feel that.’”
– Akash Patel
I wasn’t pressured into it. I needed to carry my dad and mom’ desires to fruition, and now it’s my dream and I hope my youngsters sooner or later will need to take it on. I need to be certain I’m placing out a very good product. I need to be certain I’ve a top quality expertise. These are the wines that I’d need to style, in order that’s what I’ve been making an attempt to place collectively.
In 2019, I made a decision to take an enormous leap of religion and triple our manufacturing, and we crushed 100 tons — then the pandemic hit. So it was like, nicely, we nonetheless have to fret about this wine that we’re engaged on, however now now we have this subsequent harvest. What are we doing? I needed to cancel numerous contracts and solely harvest what was on our property. We stayed afloat. It was a kind of occasions the place I simply needed to work tougher than ever on my own. This final harvest, we went as much as 130 tons, and this yr we plan to go to 150 tons.
“We have skilled a lot pushback with this venture. I’d by no means be like, ‘Yeah, it is as a result of we’re brown.’ I simply wouldn’t say that. However might or not it’s? Certain, possibly.”
I don’t consider Temecula was a various space so far as the wine tasters and drinkers, nevertheless it has slowly transitioned. I and different folks of colour and immigrants are bringing a extra numerous clientele to our property. Quite a few occasions, prospects have pulled me apart and thanked me for making a spot the place they really feel welcomed and comfy. They are saying, “Typically we go to different wineries and we don’t really feel that.” We’ve skilled a lot pushback with this venture. I’d by no means be like, ‘Yeah, it’s as a result of we’re brown.’ I simply wouldn’t say that. However might or not it’s? Certain, possibly. It’s not that we don’t give it some thought typically.
To start with of the venture, we weren’t coping with the precise folks. They benefit from you as a result of we’re new on this business and new on this space. So you’re feeling numerous that. We nonetheless have neighbors who attempt to complain about us. Throughout COVID I used to be being modern, and I used to be possibly bending the foundations somewhat bit. However I used to be making an attempt to outlive. We have been internet hosting drive-in film occasions and my neighbor didn’t prefer it, so he complained about it. Then the county shut us down. Issues like which have occurred. It’s an attention-grabbing recreation it’s important to type of play. However I’m simply going to show folks incorrect and present folks we will make good wines. We are able to make a spot the place folks need to come to, so then they’re going to must respect me, ?
I need to carry extra folks to this valley. I need to make it extra fashionable. I’m simply hoping to boost the bar in order that the subsequent particular person raises the bars and we create a spot much like Napa with that type of status. I need to broaden the model and possibly make it a family identify sometime — that might be actually cool.