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Sula – The Spirit Of A Fine Wine

Well…what do we know about sula wines, you ask? We know how to drink them!!!

And that we thought was the only pre-requisite to making a trip to India’s top selling Vineyard, Sula, located in the very picturesque district of Nashik in Maharashtra barely 190 kms from where we live in India.

And we were right!

For as wine drinkers, all we really knew about wines was that we loved them, sometimes straight from the bottle – the Sula Zinfadel Rose being our favourite – and our knowledge about them ended there.

We had little or barely any insight on which wine goes best with what cuisine, the manner in which the glass is twirled before it is tasted, the manner in which we judge its potency or any of these… So going to a vineyard was not going to be very interesting for us. Other than sampling all their wines, of course!

But what did change our minds was the discovery that Sula does not merely sell you wines (at a neat 15% discount on their vineyards) they also take you through a wine tasting session where you get to learn a lot more about them than you did when you started out… The tour of the winery and the wine making process is just the icing on the cake..

So on a rather drizzly morning very recently we found ourselves driving to Nashik, armed with enthusiasm and the requisite notepad, camera, lenses etc…to capture the ‘spirit’ of the Vineyard.

At the Vineyard we were met by the company’s very able Marketing representative Swapnil who took us through a conducted tour of the site. As he walked us through the wine making process, he painstakingly explained to us how the quality conscious company has become not just the largest seller of wines in India, but also an exporter of premium wines to countries like France, Italy, USA etc.

We were shown the large tanks where the crushed fruit is allowed to rest as sediments formed therein are then removed, the oak barrels where the wine rests for fermentation in a room where the humidity levels are regulated though air conditioning as well as a sprinkler system and the bottling, labeling process that becomes the last stage of the production of these wines.

What we found most interesting however, was the rise of a fairly quality intensive industry such as wine making in the heart of an agricultural district. The success of Sula lay in the vision of its founder and CEO Rajeev Samant who brought the art of exquisite wine making to this district (acknowledging that its weather and soil were most suited for the growth of grapes) with the help of Master Winemaker Kerry Damskey.

Together they brought the famous French Sauvignon Blanc and Californian Chenin Blanc to Indian soil for the first ever Sula harvest.

After a brief run through of the history of the Vineyard, (you can read more about it on their website here) we were escorted to the tasting room where we had our first (and hopefully not the last) brush with the fine art of wine tasting starting with Sula Brut – a celebratory sparkling wine, that goes well with Indian food. Following this we tasted Sula Sauvignon Blanc, The Dindori Reserve Viognier (which was outstanding), the Mosaic Grenache Syrah Rose, the Satori Merlot Malbec and the Dindori Reserve Shiraz.

Phew! For someone starting out, that’s a lot to remember but the Sula Portfolio of their selections helped us earmark what we tasted and how we rated them.

We didn’t get to taste the Rasa their most premium red wine since it was out of stock. According to Swapnil, this wine is only produced from the best grapes of the harvest and thus only a few cases of the same were produced last year.

Since this was our first wine tasting session ever, we didn’t spit the wines after rolling them in our mouths (that we were told a true wine connoisseur would do)…we just drank ‘em all up! But when tasting, it is a good idea to ask for a spittoon especially if you intend driving back.

And if you are not driving back the very same day, but staying over at the Beyond (Sula’s very own resort) all we say is we are extremely envious… The Beyond is a great escape or weekend outing nestled as it is amidst Vineyards, with a breathtaking view of the mighty Godavari river.  The rooms are not intended for budget travellers, but a tour of the winery and a wine tasting session are included in the room cost.

In addition to the Tasting Room (where guests can sample wines by the glass with select cuisine – or even cheese and chocolates) Sula boasts of two specialty restaurants – Pune’s very own veg Italian restaurant Little Italy and Soma, an Indian cuisine restaurant. We satiated our hungry palates at Soma where the menu is very extensive (including many diverse options for vegetarians), the taste authentic and service up to the mark.

Ritu@2017 September 17, 2012