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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.

The Accommodation

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.

Wine Tasting

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.

EVERY WINE LOVER NEEDS THESE: CLICK PHOTO↓

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Olympia Bhatt is a passionate traveler and writer who blogs about her journeys at NeoTravellers.com.

She extensively covers destinations throughout India, as well as international destinations such as Bali, London, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the United States.

    28 Comments

  1. Wait… so they really make wine in India?!? I have to taste that (I’m french).

    • The do indeed! It’s a challenging climate for wine, but they make it work, and produce a full range of styles 🙂 Definitely plan a visit to Nasik if you’re in India!

    • And in Thailand and Bali 😉 I have written about both. New latitude wines! Interesting how they managed to grow them in such temperatures after years of testing. Also interestingly, they have more than one harvest a year (up to 3!)

    • Very cool – I would love to read about Thailand and Bali – really is so fascinating how they’ve taken land in tropical climates and turned them into successful wineries. Do you have links to your articles?

      Apparently the multiple harvests are due to the extreme weather; because these regions have extreme heat and months of monsoon rains they’re forced by multiple prunings into a southern hemisphere annual cycle 🙂

  2. As I consider myself a oenophile this post is really very informational for me. Thanks for sharing this amazing post.

    • Glad we could introduce you to the Indian wine scene 🙂

  3. I had absolutely no idea they make wine in India. How awesome. Since I lived in Cape Town, surrounded by vineyards, I became kind of addicted to visiting wine farms and try all the great wines and lovely food they have to offer. And it seems Sula Vineyards offer great wines and tasty food as well. This will definitely be a place to visit when in India.

    • Glad we could tell you about the Indian wine scene Sabine 🙂 Cape Town has some fabulous vineyards – we spent 5 days last year and rented a car, it was incredible!

      If you’re a fan of winery visits Sula Vineyards is a great choice while you’re in India – the best in the country. Have a great trip!

  4. Happy to read about Sula, it was the most affordable brand I found in India and I enjoyed their Shiraz. I’d love to go wine-tasting on my next visit to try the rest of the range though!

    • Glad to hear you’re already a fan of Sula wine – I have to find some to taste myself after Olympia’s great guest post!

  5. This sound like a sublime way to spend a couple of days. I didn’t know where Sula was, but I have tried some of their wine.

    I had a delicious bottle of bubbly, in Udaipur, on New Year’s Eve watching the fireworks.

    A tasting is always interesting and a good way to learn about the wine. Dessert wine goes much better with dessert or cheese 🙂 so I can understand that drinking it on its own is a sugar overload.

    • Doesn’t it just!! Glad to hear you’ve already had some wonderful experiences with Indian wine – New Years in Udaipur sounds fabulous!

      Totally agree that dessert wine is best with actual dessert; I’m a big fan of sweet wine, but can usually only take dessert wine in small sips!

  6. I have been to Nasik but for a different itinerary altogether. Yes, Sula wines are the pioneers of winemaking in India and they have single-handedly created a wine industry in the region. I call this adopted innovation – where you pick up an idea from anywhere in the world and adapt it your circumstances. I great case study in Adaptive Innovation.

    • Absolutely – From what I read, it said that Rajeev Samant studied wine in California, so came home and adopted a lot of the techniques and technologies from his time in Napa Valley. Incredible how he’s managed to pioneer a whole industry and adapt traditional techniques to the Indian climate and environment 🙂

  7. Haha I like the story of how you unintentionally landed up at Sula Vineyards because of a mistake in booking your ticket 😀 You know, I lived in Mumbai for 3 years and it is such a shame that I never visited Sula Vineyards (not that I didn’t know about it but I guess I wasn’t much of an explorer then!) but I can always plan to go back on one of my next trips back home. The Source as Sula looks fantastic!

    • I think it’s one of those things where we’re less motivated to explore the surrounds of the places we live, but itching to explore the far corners of the globe!

      If you do have the chance to visit Mumbai again, it sounds like Sula would make for a fabulous trip!

  8. I’d never heard of Nashik and Sula Vineyards – what a wonderful find so close to Mumbai! The idea of a vegetarian Italian restaurant really is such a laugh, but I’m glad you found food complimentary to the wine. I struggle with dessert wines too, I prefer a nice dry white!

    • Glad we could introduce you! It does sound like a great getaway after a couple of days taking in the hectic city life of Mumbai. And so much incredible food – with a nice Indian twist on it!

      I’m a big fan of sweet wines, but would be interested as to how sweet the dessert wine is if Olympia found it to be a sugar overload. Will have to see if I can find Sula on Australian shelves to try 😀

  9. Visiting vineyard has always been a fascinating thing to me. When you get to see and appreciate the hard work put into producing the final product. And did I mention that vineyards are always beautiful? The pictures of Sula’s Vineyard is prove me right. I wonder what it’ll feel like touring this vineyard plus the wine tasting session. I’m not surprised Olympia and friends chatted over the wine till 5am. Wines are powerful. There’s so much to India that I can’t wait to explore.

    • I agree! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a vineyard which wasn’t stunning – they’re so beautiful by nature, it makes for a great trip even if you don’t like drinking, just to appreciate the landscape.

      Definitely include Sula on your itinerary if heading to India in the future. Hope you have the chance to explore soon!

  10. Nicely written. Reminded me of my own time at Sula. Consumption of wine in India is still very low compared to ‘hard’ liquor. However Kudos to Sula vineyards in their effort to re-introduce wine in the bar selection. It would be interesting to know wow it compares with wines of France, Napa , Australia or other place.

    • It really would be interesting to compare against other regions wines – I’ll have to try and source out Sula on Australian shelves.

      Glad you enjoyed the post Nisha – I agree, I give huge props to Sula for making a singlehanded effort to bring back the tradition of wine in India 🙂

  11. It’s always the mistakes in travel that make for the best experiences and finds. I love that you found the vineyards by accident. It’s so interesting that wineries weren’t established in India till almost the turn of the millennium.

    • Totally agree! You have to be willing to embrace the mistakes and see where it leads – we’ve had some of our most memorable moments spontaneously!

      I think I read that wineries in India were around 500 years ago, but the tradition died out, and wasn’t reestablished until Sula came along and adopted techniques from California, but made innovative changes to suit the environment. I’ll have to read up more on it, because I do find it really interesting!

  12. I would have never thought of India as a wine destination. As big as India is, it’s impressive that one region produces 80% of the wine in the country. I wonder how the crop conditions are compared to other regions that are known for producing wine.

    • It’s taking a couple of people by surprise! Really is incredible how they’ve established an industry in a region which most people thought not fit for the production of wine. I would love to travel and compare their techniques and crops against more famous regions like France and California – so interesting how Sula have innovated techniques for their environment.

  13. Yay! Wine! My partner and I love wine so much but he’s more knowledgeable to recognize wine taste well! As for me, I’m just like, yes, I like it, let’s order and drink! I didn’t know tho that India has something like a wine destination? It’s an interesting fact! I’ve never been there but when I come and visit I’m definitely not missing this out!

    • Haha well maybe you would enjoy the experience at Sula Vineyards and can learn a little about the tasting process 🙂 I think India as a wine destination has taken a lot of people by surprise – not something which is widely advertised or well known. But it’s a fabulous region, and even more fascinating to see how they’ve cultivated grapes in an environment which wasn’t previously thought possible.

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