Uma Chigurupati leads a life full of adventure. She’s the owner of one of the country’s best vineyards, and along with her husband Krishna Prasad, is part of the elite Marathon Grand Slam Club. She’s an icon in her hometown. From having given the city its annual 10K run to having conceived the concept of the Heritage Marathon held there each year, she has put Hyderabad on an international map – for both wine and running.
Located 590 meters above sea level, with Loire-French like soil, Barossa-Australia like sunshine, Mendoza-Argentina like rainfall, Uma and Krishna Prasad Chigurupati have strived hard to build a state-of-the-art winery and create a special Indian wine in the Hampi hills of Karnataka, some 70 kms away from the world heritage site, Hampi.
Says Uma Chigurupati, Director of Krshma Estates Pvt. Ltd., “We took a disadvantage (basically the fact that Hampi does not fall in the grape growing belt of Karnataka) and turned it into an advantage. An ailing winery that was up for sale attracted the eye of my husband, who is a wine aficionado, and we ended up buying it and making it one of the country’s best wineries.” From 2007, when they purchased the winery to now, Krshma was won the silver and gold medals at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, 2014, making it the first Indian winery to win medals at an American wine competition. Currently Krshma wines are available for sale in Bangalore, though Uma and her husband plan to launch it in New York before Christmas this year.
A soil microbiologist by profession, Uma was the perfect companion for her wineloving husband who nurtured his hobby in one of the bedrooms of his home when the couple married in 1982. “I was surprised to see how passionate Prasad was about wine – I had never even tasted wine till I married him,” tells Uma. “But I was keen to learn and was eager to take on the challenge of refining his home attempts at wine making. Today I look after the operations of the entire winery and I can proudly say that I know as much about wine today as Prasad does.” The small, but state-of-the-art vineyards, are tended to by the lady herself. Many times you can find her walking the entire length and breadth of the estate, personally inspecting the barrels, the imported equipment and the high-tech laboratories. Despite coming from a non-wine background, most critics who have tasted Krshma’s wines – the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Sauvignon Blanc, the Chardonnay and the Sangiovese – have ended up giving it raving reviews. Speaking of the wine Uma says that there are no actually recipes to wine making. “We let the fruit speak for itself.” The Passion Uma and her husband Prasad are part of the elite Marathon Grand Slam Club and have the distinction of being the only Indian couple to have completed marathons in seven continents in as many months, topping it off with a marathon at the North Pole. The current chairperson of the Hyderabad Marathon, held in the city every November, Uma is also the brains behind the Heritage Marathon that has been happening over the last three years in Hyderabad.
“Different countries showcase their uniqueness through these kinds of marathons – for example the Great Wall Marathon held in China or the Vineyard Marathon held across France. Hyderabad, being a city steeped in history, is the perfect venue for the Heritage Marathon,” she explains. The couple’s run across the North Pole, the toughest they have ever done, is what catapulted them into the elite Marathon Grand Slam Club. Running across frozen seawater, fearing for their lives each moment and with every step, the couple took nine hours to complete this run.
The couple has different choices in wine. Uma loves wines from California’s Napa Valley, while her husband much prefers Bordeaux wines. They run two to three marathons every year, apart from pursuing their respective careers – running a pharmaceutical company and a vineyard – and managing their homes and family of three kids (twin girls and a boy). Prasad is also an avid photographer and has aspirations of following a National Geographic team on one of their photographic expeditions. Currently though, he has his sights set on being part of Sir Richard Branson’s maiden commercial space travel venture that has created much furore in the travel market recently.