A couple of weekends ago we visited Sula Wine’s Vineyards in Nashik. If you’ve got nothing planned this Sunday, then, with full authority we’ll say that you should pay a visit to the vineyards to learn more about the story behind one of India’s first wine producers.
The Sula vineyards are about a three-hour drive (180 km) out of Mumbai. Take the Mumbai- Agra National Highway (NH3) out of Mumbai, and then follow it until Nashik. Program your GPS to Sula Vineyards after reaching Nashik as you’ll have to take several side roads through farm land to reach the vineyards. You could also follow the helpful sign boards along the way that start appearing as you’re entering Nashik. As you get off the main highway, you’ll drive along tranquil, tiny lanes, surrounded by grape plants and paddy fields. After some twenty minutes on this road, you’ll arrive at the vineyard; resplendent with colorful flowers, a large lake and of course, grape plants.
What to Do
The flowers planted around the vineyard aren’t just there to look pretty. As the grape growing season starts, the flowers are monitored for signs of pests, which alerts the grape growers as to the necessary steps that need to be taken before planting the grapes.
That’s one interesting titbit you’ll learn if you enroll in the wine tour that the vineyard offers. Tour guides will take you around the vineyard explaining the wine making process from planting to bottling. Then comes the exciting part; the guide will take you to the dark, spacious tasting room where you’ll get to sample six different wines ranging from red to sparkling. As you sample, your server will instruct you on wine tasting etiquette that’ll make you a true wine connoisseur.
After buying some fun t shirts in the merchandise shop ask the cashier if the grape stomping activity is open. If it is, then spend half an hour making wine the old fashioned style; by stomping on grapes. The feel of grapes popping under your feet is strangely gratifying. You may want to dress appropriately though, grape stains are hard to wash out.
What to Eat
One of the most important lessons I learnt during college was not to drink on an empty stomach. Luckily, Sula Vineyards has partnered with a premier French restaurant, La Plage to create Soleil La Plage, a fine dining restaurant in the heart of the vineyard. It has an open deck which allows you to sip on the best Sula wines, gaze at the vineyards and indulge in some truly delicious food. I had the chicken in wine jus and the scampi with risotto, both of which were lip-smackingly good.
So what’re you waiting for? Grab a few friends and head to the vineyards this weekend to experience what I think is a holy triumphate; great company, great food and great wine.
All images of the vineyard courtesy Tina Dastur.