When I think of vineyard tours, I think of Peter Mayle. I also think of idle rambles through acres upon acres of land planted with grapes and olives, a seat by the countryside fireplace with a wineglass in hand. In that sense, last weekend's trip to Sula Vineyards in Nasik, some 5 hours drive from Mumbai, was a disappointment.
But for the camaraderie, the company of friends, the green ghats and impromptu waterfalls that spring up all over Maharashtra in monsoons, and also for a novel, enjoyable experience, it was worth a visit. It is, as I said, a good 5 hours drive. We were sensible enough to leave early in morning, reaching Sula around noon. The place to start with is a wine tour - a short spiel on how many acres they have spread all over (but very few where we were standing) and then a succint tour of the plant where they process the grapes and ferment the wine. This followed by a wine tasting - of six recent vintage, barely passable wines - took around an hour.
But Sula understands you traveled all the way and are not ready to leave yet. So they provide three options to linger and savor the view. Eat at Soma, the Indian restaurant. Or lunch at Little Italy, which is what we did. Rustic surroundings, excellent thin crust pizza, lovely tiramisu - in your wine induced haze, you could be excused for thinking you are in Italy.
And then you go linger some more at the balcony next to the wine tasting lounge. You glimpse the vineyard and the shimmering lake beyond as you reach for yet another glass of wine or a cappuccino. And then, too lazy to explore anything else Nasik has to offer, you get back in the car for your return journey.
Not the French Riviera this one but as I said, a lovely experience and with the right company, a day very well spent.