Priyanka Save Crafted Chikoo Wine Instead of Letting The Produce Go Waste

by | January 18, 2022, 18:14 IST


Former mechanical engineer Priyanka Save, MD – Hill Zill Wines, ‘engineered’ her way to making an alcohol beverage with chikoos from her farm in Maharashtra, giving birth to the brand she co-founded, Fruzzanté. She shares her story 

“Fruzzanté happened to me by chance,” reveals the entrepreneur who co-founded the company that made the world’s first alcohol beverage from chikoos. Hailing from a farming background, mechanical engineer Priyanka Save worked in the US for a few years before realising she wanted to be back in India for good. Upon her return, she could not stomach the fact that about 40 per cent of the chikoo produce on the family farm was being wasted due to lack of demand. She and her husband Nagesh Pai researched their way into the idea of crafting wine from the local fruit. That’s how Fruzzanté was conceptualised under the aegis of Hill Zill Wines Pvt Ltd, of which Save is managing director.

“Our core concept and philosophy are farm to bottle, and we are on a journey to encourage farmers and ensure that our local fruits get their due,” says Save. “We source directly from farmers across Maharashtra and we make sure that the farmers get the right price for their products,” adds the woman for whom such farmer benefits have been close to the heart, considering she, too, belongs to a farming family. The entrepreneur in her is happy with the idea too – the advantage of sourcing directly from the farmers is fresh and quality produce that heightens the quality quotient of the final product.

Quality and freshness is one aspect, and skill totally another. Post their decision to turn chikoos into wine, Save and Pai started scouting the worldwide web for some of the best fruit winemakers across the globe and came across Canada’s Dominic Rivard, who is a winemaker, restaurateur, author and traveller. They consulted with him and set up the process with the seed money invested by none other than Save’s father, Srikant Save, a farmer from Bordi in Maharashtra. Within a year, they could taste the fruit of their labour, literally, and the product was in the premium market of Mumbai soon after. That was in January 2017, and there has been no looking back in the four years since.


The company has since experimented with other fruits – starfruit, mango, strawberry and pineapple – and recently launched its premium dessert mead, Arkä, an outcome of products sourced from tribals in the region. “The word ‘arkä’ means ‘extract’ in Sanskrit and it takes a natural journey before it is presented in commercial bottles. It is made from honey extracted from beehives that is then fermented and presented as mead, a drink that has been mentioned in ancient scriptures dating back to 100 BCE,” Save explains. Only, theirs is flavoured with rose and jamun berries to enhance the drinking experience. It is natural, vegan and gluten-free, just like their wines, without any added synthetic colours or flavours.


It is a given that a journey such as theirs would have its own hiccups, but Save has navigated them well, especially considering the segment she is working in. As an industry, wine is challenging as there is at least a 10-year investment period,” Save says. One major challenge she faced initially when they started making Fruzzanté Chikoo was the exhausting trial-and-error process. Another was getting the excise duty exemption and placing fruit wines in the same category as wines. She recalls it being tedious and time-consuming, but, after over three years, they have managed to do it.


Her family being her pillar of support, Save believes that gender is just a construct and subjective. To begin anything or be successful, gender should never be a consideration. What is important is to have conviction and faith in yourself and your idea. “I have been fortunate to have a strong support system, and my gender has never been a hindrance in my journey. However, on a larger scale, we are yet to reach parity on this front, and an equal world will require effort and contribution from everyone,” she faces reality.

Over the years, Save has learned the importance of following her dreams and not being intimidated by fear of failure. “Fear seldom prevents failure, but it certainly prevents life!” As a toast to life, she has a favourite Fruzzanté beverage for every mood. She pairs it well in cocktails as well in spritzers. And, when you do not see her working, you will see her cooking her meals amid family conversations and lots of love and laughter, holding her favourite Fruzzanté, greeting everyone with a “Cheers!”

Images courtesy: Priyanka Save

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