Authored by Olympia Bhatt
Travel sometimes happens for the strangest reasons. Like having two dates of consecutive months falling on the same day. No wonder the flights seemed cheap when I was booking the return tickets.
Despite only having plans for a weekend getaway, before I knew it, my departure was on Friday of the first month, and my return on the Monday … a month later. We could do nothing but laugh at our ticket bungling primarily because it didn’t cost much. But then we had an idea.
Why not travel to Bombay twice? Instead of cancelling nonrefundable tickets, why not spend a little more and travel again? This is exactly what we did, and our unintended second trip meant the discovery of Sula vineyards in Nasik.
An Unintended Trip to Sula Vineyards
A 3 to 4 hour drive from Mumbai, Sula Vineyards is the oldest winery in India. It is a fabulous way to unwind from the hectic bustle of city life, where you can discover the place where Indians first experienced wine.
In 1996, Rajeev Samant planted the first wine grapes in Nashik and today this region is India’s premier wine-growing region, producing 80% of the country’s total wine.
Spread over a total of over 3000 acres, Sula’s vineyards are home to some of India’s finest grapes, so if you’re looking for a place for your next wine tour, you should visit Nashik, in Maharashtra state.
This is India’s Napa Valley; after Sula Vineyards was established in 1999, 35 other wineries followed suit in the region over the next decade. It’s quite incredible how one man paved the way for the emergence of India’s Wine Capital.
An Evening of Wine
Having left Mumbai around 6pm, we arrived late evening for our stay. A world class heritage winery resort with boutique accommodations, we decided this would be the perfect weekend getaway. With unbeatable vistas of the scenic estate and gentle hills rolling away to placid Gangapur lake, there’s nothing quite like it!
There are two restaurants onsite whose menu and cuisine is defined by the quirky predilections of our food habit. The restaurant Little Italy serves vegetarian Italian; two words which could come together consecutively only in the Indian dietary imagination.
The other restaurant Soma served Indian food with meat, and of course, eating on a vineyard, the wine in both restaurants flowed freely. We discovered that Riesling went really well with fish tikka and Dindori reserve Shiraz with mutton kebabs.
After a long night drinking in the vineyard, we returned to our lodge. In spite of the travel, we bonded over wine and conversation until the early hours of 5 am. The vineyard and wine-tasting tour we had planned the following day seemed a faraway possibility.
Having embraced a sleep-in until late morning, we adjusted our plans to catch a wine tour in the afternoon. Fortunately they run every hour. By 1pm we were bright and ready for an education in Indian wine.
After a short 20 minute tour that ranged from the origins of Sula, a vivid description and demonstration about the variety of grapes used and Sula’s particular oenology; we walked into the wine-tasting room.
The tour included tasting of four wines – one Riesling, one Shiraz, one sparkling and one dessert wine (though admittedly I was unable to swallow because of it’s sugar overload!).
The tour came with a basic taste-bud training of how to tell the good stuff from the bad. And afterwards, it was all too easy to unwind with a glass at The Tasting Room overlooking the rolling vineyards with panoramic lake views.
Later in the day, a visit to Gangapur dam was truly serene, and a wonderful place to meditate and listen to the gentle lapping waves, enjoying the soft enwrapping breeze. A perfect end to our Nasik journey, which was just what we needed before beginning our journey back to the madding crowd.
How to Get to Sula Vineyards
A visit to Sula vineyards in Nashik is an enjoyable experience for people of all ages and carefully curated to give you an inside peek into the winemaking process while allowing you to make great memories along the way.
Nashik is 180 km from Mumbai, reachable by car, bus or train and 210 km from Pune, reachable by car or by bus. You can find detailed directions on the Sula Vineyards website.
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