Copy of Naidu-41311-Edit

Cellar Chats

Naidu Wines, a Female and Immigrant-owned Winery Born from a Love of Entertaining

July 20, 2021

Written By Coravin

Raghni Naidu, owner and founder of Naidu Wines, comes from a family of entertainers who found great joy in sharing food, experiences and stories with those around them. Growing up in Punjab, India, Raghni recalls many unique and sumptuous dinner parties hosted by her parents. Her mother, a woman who loved to collect special seeds on her travels, would sow things like radicchio or oregano (things which were not grown in India at that time)  into her garden at home to add extra splendor to her plates.

 It was here, in Punjab, that Raghni’s joy for making memories around food and wine was born.

Journey to California wine country

A lot happened between living in Punjab and making wine in Sebastopol, California. At 18, Raghni moved to Melbourne, Australia, in a quest for independence, adventure, and inspiration. It was in Melbourne that she met her husband, Kaushick Naidu. The pair ate well, traveled lots, and developed a love for wine countries around the world. Eventually, they made their way to San Francisco – making the Bay Area their forever home with their two children and Boston Terrier, Aussie.

Even with a love for wine and wine country, starting a wine brand wasn’t always Raghni’s intention. It was on a family road trip from Monte Carlo to Barcelona via Les Baux-de-Provence that she finally starting to think, “We could do this.” The trip compelled her to begin searching for a similar setting back home in Northern California’s rolling hills and sprawling vineyards. Soon after, she stumbled upon a Pinot Noir vineyard previously owned by a second-generation Italian American couple and, a few signatures later, it was hers.

About Naidu Wines

Aside from being the family name, Naidu Wines represents, “Creating one’s own path by following your dreams and passions with a tremendous amount of hard work, perseverance, and grit – while always remembering to pay it forward.”

As an immigrant woman, Raghni is carving a space within the wine industry for dreamers like herself. “Being one of the first female immigrant owned wine brands I absolutely feel a sense of responsibility, not just towards representing my culture, but also towards the amazing and diverse immigrant community that is the backbone of this industry.”

“Personally speaking, the look of pride, admiration and encouragement that I see in people whenever I share my story with them is something that is very moving for me,” she adds. “I believe my journey has just begun and I have a long road ahead of me.”

Copy of Naidu-41462

Our conversation

We asked Raghni to share more about Naidu Wines and how it came to be. Read our full conversation below and then take a moment to shop Naidu Wines.

You decided to go ahead with your plans to launch Naidu Wines in May 2020, even after the whole world shut down. What gave you the confidence to stick to your plan? How did you get over the fear to put your best foot forward?

Raghni Naidu: I think launching a brand in itself is a challenging thing to do but to be launching a consumer brand that requires buyer engagement during a pandemic was “next level.”

I received a lot of encouragement from my husband who saw first hand the tremendous hard work I had already put in. He encouraged me to keep going despite the challenging situation, reminding me that challenges will keep coming in different shapes and sizes and there will be plenty along my journey. There were physical and tangible challenges, so many things were beyond my control. I had no choice but to really embrace and accept the situation and make the most of it; afterall entrepreneurship involves overcoming challenges and taking calculated risks.

I resolved to accept the situation and make the most of it. I knew if there was one thing I had control over it was the amount of hard work I was capable of doing and that was something nobody – not even a global pandemic – could take away from me.

Being the first female Indian immigrant wine brand, do you feel a sense of responsibility?

RN: Being one of the first female immigrant owned wine brands I absolutely feel a sense of responsibility, not just towards representing my culture, but also towards the amazing and diverse immigrant community that is the backbone of this industry.

“I believe immigrant workers are the true unsung heroes of this industry,” she added. “There is so much backend work that never meets the eye of the consumer, much of this work is done by workers that I have a lot of respect for. I hope to highlight their work along my own journey.”

Personally speaking, the look of pride, admiration and encouragement that I see in people whenever I share my story with them is something that is very moving for me. I believe my journey has just begun and I have a long road ahead of me. However, I want to claim my space and be heard and let people know that my story exists and that it matters and that I may not fit the traditional role of an American vintner but here I am! I am an “outsider” in every way and I have come to accept this but am not fearful of it. I am marching forward, willing to learn every step of the way but am focused on being successful.

Are there other “outsiders” you look up to in the wine industry?

RN: Merry Edwards was once an “outsider” but now very much an industry legend. Her story inspired me because she took a path less traveled. She was OK being the only woman in her time to choose to do what only men were perceived to have been successful at doing. She had many ups and downs on her journey but her commitment and passion never wavered.

Her story gave me hope that in a sometimes old-guard male-dominated industry a woman can be highly successful and not have to hold back on bringing her vision to life. I admire her courage and passion.

As you evolve and grow your brand, what is most important to you? What value do you hold highest?

RN: Integrity is a value that I live my own life by and it certainly is a value that guides my business decisions. I deeply believe that this beautiful opportunity came into my life as a gift and I want to do it justice. I also greatly value that consumers take a chance and choose my product. I want them to be happy with the experience every step of the way.

On that note, I want to give a big shout out to all my customers. They took a chance and believed in my product during a time when they couldn't engage with my product before buying it.

Coravin’s mission is to change the way the world experiences wine. What is your favorite wine experience?

RN: It really was a culmination of many trips over the years. As a young adult fresh out of college, I found myself gravitating towards unique experiences and they often involved the wine country. Whether it was the Yarra Valley in Australia, Tuscany or Alto Adige in Italy, or the wonderful Rhone Valley in France, the farm-to-table lifestyle where things were prepared intentionally and purely for the sole purpose of optimal enjoyment really spoke to me in a way I cannot quite describe.

It all came together for me on a beautiful day in Les Baux De Provence, sitting with my husband in the beautiful olive estate we were staying in, watching both my kids climb olive trees and having a gloriously carefree time. In that moment, we decided that we were going to prioritize bringing this lifestyle into our life back home in the US. Within three months this longing became a reality and a gift of destiny changed my life forever.

Naidu Wines selection

Naidu Wines makes small-batch wines like Rose of Pinot Noir Viognier, Cuvee Rouge, and Pinot Noir. The 2019 estate-grown Pinot Noir, a complex and aromatic wine with signature notes jammy blackberries, earthy pepper, and pomegranate, just made its way into the wine program at Single Thread Farms – a three Michelin star restaurant that also recently received the Wine Spectator Grand Award.