MEMBER PRESS: PASO ROBLES WINE COUNTRY ALLIANCE MEMBER PRESS
Media Contact: Paso Robles Press
LXV WINE: A PASSAGE FROM INDIA
LXV Wine A Passage from India
By JANIS SWITZER
The romance of wine has attracted people from all walks of life, and almost every corner of the world, to Paso Robles: winemak- ers from France and Aus- tralia, businessmen from Switzerland and Japan, doctors from Florida and Los Angeles.
But for the first time on the Central Coast, and per- haps in all of California, a couple originally from India has started a winery here and is planning to spend the rest of their lives building their uniquely In- dian vision of a wine brand.Neeta and Kunal Mittal, both born and raised in India, released their first vin- tage of LXV Rising Tempo just last month, and are now in the middle of harvest and in the process of working with the county to approve their phased plans for a tast- ing room, vineyard and ulti- mately a state-of-the-art winery. Wine is not generally known or consumed in India, so their story is unique on a number of levels. Both Neeta and Kunal came to the United States to study engi- neering, she at UC Berkeley and he at University of Wis- consin. Neeta went on to start a successful marketing and branding firm, and Kunal began spearheading tech start-ups, while author- ing a number of books on in- formation technology. They met in the U.S. and married 11 years ago. While living in San Fran- cisco several years ago, they started visiting wineries in the Napa Valley, and soon were enchanted with wine and the wine country lifestyle. “Then we discovered Paso,” Kunal explains. “We just love the people here. I love the climate and I love the quiet.” After searching for over a year they found the Westside property they were looking for — a 14-acre property on Willow Creek Road — and made an offer the day they saw it. They later learned higher bid had come in shortly after theirs was ac- cepted. “I would have lost the sale if I had waited an hour,” Kunal says now. The property was an old Christmas tree farm with a small house on it, but the key was location. “We’re right in the mid- dle of the Holy Trinity of the west side,” Neeta explains. Acclaimed wineries Den- ner, Saxum and Linne Cal- ado are the three points of the triangle, and the area is considered ideal for growing Rhône varietal grapes. The brand LXV — the Roman numeral for 65--was inspired by the Indian con- cept of Kama Sutra. Dating back to the 3rd Century A.D., the Kama Sutra en- compasses 64 arts intended to enlighten sensual moods and intimacy. The arts in- volve smell, light, music, food, drink, touch, even dance and magic. “Wine is the 65th art,” Neeta explains. “Everything that we are doing with this brand is in honor of the di- vine sensuality within you.” For their first release, Rising Tempo, they pay homage to the art of dance. “The whole idea for this se- ries of labels is to capture the portraits of real-world artists,” Neeta says. The darkened image of a dancer is featured on the label. Their next release will be A Spell Cast, honoring the art of magic. Their consulting wine- maker isAmy Butler. With a degree in enology from UC Davis, Butler worked in Napa Valley for prestigious wineries Stags Leap and Schramsberg for five years. She moved to Paso ten years ago, and was the head wine- maker for Edward Sellers before moving on to Red Soles and starting her own label. Neeta and Kunal first tasted her wines at Red Soles, and immediately knew they wanted to hire her. The Mittals’ experience in Paso Robles so far has been an extremely positive one. Many in the wine com- munity have reached out to help them in everything from finding the property, to sourcing their fruit and plan- ning their winery. “That’s the great thing about Paso,” Neeta says. “Unwittingly we’ve had amazing mentors: Ron Den- ner has been amazing, the Red Soles guys are fantastic, and Changala — our neigh- bors — also fantastic! In India it’s also about people, and that’s what I feel here.” While the Mittals won’t be able to offer tastings at their property until permits are issued, their wine is cur- rently available online. They hope to offer it in some local locations soon, and their marketing plan also involves focusing on Los Angeles, which has a much larger In- dian community. They would like one day to sell in India, but the dis- tribution challenges there right now are almost insur- mountable. For now, they are enjoy- ing their new life in Paso, and look forward to sharing their wine with the public. “It’s really fantastic, and now we just have to take baby steps to see what we can do,” says Neeta with a smile. For more information, or to buy LXV wine, go to www.lxvwine.com, or call Neeta at 530-763-3821.