Sula Vineyards – Wine Tasting, Factory Tour, A Day Well Spent
After planning and canceling multiple times, I was finally able to visit the wine capital of India, Nashik, to master the Four S’s – See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip – of Wine Tasting. No wonder they say – third time’s a charm. After visiting Mapro sometime back, I was most excited to visit Sula Vineyards. It meant a chance to view their whole range of wines, stroll through the vineyards, take a factory tour, and most importantly taste the gamut of their selections.
Sula Vineyards was founded in 1998 by Rajeev Samant at their 30-acre family farm in Nashik. Rajeev is a Stanford-trained engineer who left his job at Oracle in Silicon Valley hearing his entrepreneurial call. In 1996, Rajeev, with the help of a Californian winemaker, Kerry Damskey, used New World techniques to grow five acres of “Sauvignon Blanc” and “Chenin Blanc” varieties of grapes at the farm. He raised money in 1998 to construct the winery – Sula – named after Samant’s mother – ‘Sulabha’. In 1999, the vineyard had its first crush, and in 2000, sold its first bottle of wine. The first SulaFest was organized in 2008.
Getting to Sula was easy thanks to our trusted navigator, Google Maps. Continuing our road trip, we left Aurangabad around 8 a.m., and we reached Sula Vineyards close to 2 p.m. with one breakfast break. Road was generally good, considering you stick to the National Highway. Along the route few shortcuts were suggested by Maps, but they were all basically dirt roads that are impossible to navigate with city cars.
After crossing through Nashik city, we started observing signs of several wineries. There are almost 50 wineries in and around Nashik, which includes the likes of York Winery, Grover Zampa, Vallonne, and Chateau d’Ori. Many of them now have tasting rooms open to the public and also offer discounts on retail price on purchases.
The driveway to the main gate is covered with vines on both sides, flower-laden gardens and surrounded by hills. It was a pleasant view after such a long drive in the summer heat. The parking lot is an open ground adjacent to the building. There’s a different parking for guests who are staying for the night at their resort. If you’ve a reservation, do let the security people know about it.
After parking the car, we quickly made our way to the “Tour and Tasting Registration” counter. The same room doubles up as a souvenir store in which you can buy items like key chains, t-shirts, fridge magnet, and even a wine barrel.
Factory tours are held every hour from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and takes about 45 minutes including the wine tasting. Tour and wine tasting is priced at Rs. 400. If you opt only for the tour, it would cost you Rs. 150.
The 20 minute conducted tour introduces guests to the origins of Sula and the various nuances of wine making process. You are taken through each process, from crushing to wine aging in barrels.
Speaking about our guide, he seemed rather uninterested in conducting the tour. His speech appeared scripted and he left us thrice in the factory to answer his phone. He encouraged the batch to ask questions along each stage of wine making, but the answers were never proper.
The factory tour ends right in front of the wine tasting room.
The Wine Tasting Room overlooks the rolling Sula vineyards with panoramic lake views. After verifying passes, one empty wine glass and a bowl of biscuits were placed before us. If there’s someone in the group who hasn’t opted for wine tasting, they can hang around in the same room while others continue with the tasting tour. Coming to the wines, we tasted two whites and then two reds. Same glass is used for both types of wine. Apart from one of the wines(can’t recall the name), they were all unpalatable.
After the tour, you are invited to buy any of the wines you tasted at a discounted price.
There are two restaurants at Sula Vineyards: Little Italy and Soma. Little Italy serves vegetarian Italian cuisine, and Soma is an Indian restaurant that looks like a modest cafeteria with faux wood flooring, wood tables and wrought iron chairs. We had lunch at Soma. We ordered chicken, fish tikka, naan, and rice. Food was delicious – spicy and flavorful. Prices were relatively on the higher side, but we have come to terms with that at such places.After lunch we strolled around the place a little more to explore it. There wasn’t much to do apart from hanging around and clicking pictures. One can cover the whole place in 3-4 hours.
The most enjoyable time to visit Sula is between December to March. Harvest season is during this time, on top you also get to experience some joyous grapes stomping. Sulafest, the annual weekend celebration of wine, food and music happens every year in February. During that time you can also camp outdoor during the weekend.
- Wine Stomping(Seasonal)
- Wine Tasting
- Factory Tour
- Sula Fest (Annual)
- Resort Stay
All things considered, we had a nice time at Sula Vineyards. Tour was not as good as expected, but I’ll let that pass. If you have a couple of days to spare, you can plan a trip that includes a stay at their tranquil resort, by the pool, chilling, including wine tours and tasting. It’s a great place for a weekend getaway and easily accessible via road from Mumbai and Pune.
December to March
Minimum 2 hours
- Beyond by Sula
- The Source at Sula
- Nashik – 14 km
- Trimbakeshwar – 24 km
- Mumbai – 170 km
- Pune – 225 km
1. Is there an entry fee for Sula Vineyards?
A. Entry and parking at the vineyard is free. You are charged a fee on participating in the tour.
2. Is pre-booking required for the tour?
A. No need of pre-booking. Tickets for the tour are available for purchase on spot.
3. What are the mode of payments accepted for the tickets?
A. Payments can be made using all, except Amex, debit/credit cards and PayTM.
4. What is the duration of the tour?
A. Tour and wine tasting is completed in around 45 minutes. If you opt-in for 6 wines, it could get close to an hour.
5. Till what time does the restaurants stay open?
A. The two restaurants, Little Italy and Soma, stays open till 10:30 p.m. Lunch is served from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and dinner is served from 7:00 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.
6. Is photography and videography allowed? Is it chargeable?
A. Photography is allowed and is free in the entire property. Video shooting is prohibited inside the factory.
7. Can I visit during monsoon?
A. Yes, of course, monsoon is a great time to visit the vineyard. You can enjoy the cool weather, enjoy the rain, and sip on a glass of the finest wine. A visit to the nearby Gangapur dam is also recommended during monsoon.
8. Is there an age restriction for entry?
A. People of all age groups are allowed free entry. However, for wine tasting, you have to be 21+.
9. When is Sula Vineyard closed?
A. It is open almost everyday of the year, with the exception of dry-days. Holiday calendar is available at the official website – www.sulawines.com.
10. Is overnight stay possible at Sula Vineyards?
A. There are two luxury facilities available for stay: Beyond by Sula and The Source at Sula. Prices range from Rs. 6,999 for Tree House stay on weekday to Rs. 49,999 for the Sky Villa during the new year. Prices vary for each day of the week. You can get the updated prices on the website.
Sula Vineyards Address
Address: Gat 36/2, Govardhan Village, Off Gangapur-Savargaon Road
Phone: +91-99700-90039 (VIP Tour booking)
Timings: 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
I hope this post will serve as a helpful resource for when you visit Sula Vineyards! If you have any questions or tips about the place, do let tell me about it in the comments below.
Keep traveling! 🙂