SULA–YORK–SOMA VINE VILLAGE
These three wineries are located on a single 3.5-km stretch of road on the banks of the picturesque Gangapur Lake outside Nashik city in northern Maharashtra. Sula is the first one encounters (180 km from Mumbai on the Mumbai-Nashik highway), followed by York (1.5 km down the road) and finally the Soma Vine Village (previously known as Somanda, another 2 km down the same road).
While Sula is the third-oldest winery in India (1999), it’s the market leader today by a long shot — wine sales in 2017 were an estimated 1 million cases against that of the next-largest company, Fratelli (about 110,000 cases) and its distinctive “mustachioed sun” logo is ubiquitous and widely recognised.
Sula has a comprehensive programme for visitors, which runs through the year. The 2,000 sq ft Tasting Deck on the first floor has an excellent view of Gangapur Lake and is open daily from 11 am to 11 pm; it gets quite crowded on weekends when up to 500 people visit the winery. There’s also an excellent shop selling wines at MRP, as well as a very good souvenir shop for mementoes and apparel. Both the tours and the Tasting Deck are open to walk-in visitors — no prior bookings are required.
What does require advance booking, though, is Sulafest, an annual musical extravaganza, which will be held on February 3 and 4, 2018. The 2016 event drew 15,000 people. Tents and hotel rooms in Nashik get sold out early, so it’s advisable to book well in advance. ( in.bookmyshow.com/festival/sula-winesmusic
There are two restaurants (Little Italy and Soma) in the area next to the amphitheatre with a fairly extensive menu. The luxury resort, The Source at Sula, opened in early 2017 where the original winery was located. It has 23 rooms and suites done in Tuscan style and also offers a swimming pool, spa and tennis courts (from ~7,000). See www.sulawines.com.
Located on the shores of the Gangapur Lake, just 1.5 km down the road from Sula’s winery and set amidst seven acres of vineyards, production here commenced in 2008. The 30,000 sq ft winery is built on two levels, with crushing on the upper level.
The spacious and relatively uncrowded Tasting Room overlooks the Gangapur Lake and is open daily from 12 noon to 10 pm for visitors — no need for reservations unless you are visiting in a large group. Charges include a vineyard/winery tour, and the last package starts at 5.30 pm. The Cellar Door restaurant here has good food. See www.yorkwinery.com
Soma Vine Village
The property that started off as Somanda Vineyards is now called the Soma Vine Village and has become a popular destination for theme parties and weddings. It is located 3.5 km down the road from Sula and is adjacent to 25 acres of vineyards. The winery is basically one big hall where crushing/fermentation/bottling as well as tasting for visitors is done. The Soma Vineyard Resort nearby has 32 well-appointed rooms and a restaurant as well as facilities for conferences/meetings, set amidst welllandscaped surroundings and walking distance to two luxury seven-room cottages. The winery is open to visitors between 11 am and 7 pm every day — no prior appointment is required. Rooms at the resort cost from ~5,500.