Dhaba in the vineyard. Did we hear right?
“It’s a wine dhaba,” laughs Grégoire Verdun, global brand ambassador/AVP for tasting and marketing at Sula Vineyards. This is The Starlight Terrace, the latest addition to their 30-acre property in Nashik, where clients can dine under the stars on sharpseating as they sip on a variety of wines paired with food that is usually found in a dhab. As it turned out, traditional Maharashtrian sowing Bhaji pairs beautifully with cold, silky Chardonnay.
Starlight Terrace, wine dhaba in Sula | Photo Credit: SPECIAL LOCATION
Indian tourists, restless after two years of lockdown, are now looking for memorable places within the country as the pandemic and its aftermath continue to make international travel difficult and expensive. In response, the country’s vineyards are doing their best to offer new experiences.
It hosts personalized movie nights, private picnics and wine tastings, all of which you can partake in while staying in elaborate boutique rooms and tree houses. Of course, in keeping with the intoxicating theme, the offerings include a spa with wine baths, vineyard bike rides and introductory wine classes.
Lazy day in Sula | Photo Credit: SPECIAL LOCATION
Soak in Merlot
“During the lockdown, people have rediscovered Indian wines. For many of them, it was not what they imagined,” Gregoire says, adding that people began to appreciate Indian wines even as their producers began to gain international recognition. “They want to experience vineyard life and learn more about wine,” he says.
Over the past couple of years, The Source at Sula (their Tuscan-style resort) has grown from 28 to 57 rooms to meet growing demand. According to Grégoire, occupancy is 90% and everything is booked on weekends.
View from one of the rooms of the Tuscan-style resort in Sula | Photo Credit: SPECIAL LOCATION
At some point, the criterion for many could be: forget about the terroir; is this place instagrammable? It’s not like that anymore,” he laughs. – They used to come to take pictures. Now they take wine more seriously,” he adds.
Jayant Bharati, Associate General Manager of Marketing at Fratelli Wines, thinks vineyard tourism is a great way to enjoy the slow travel. “People get the opportunity to interact with local people, culture, products, food. They immerse themselves in wine culture for a day or two before returning refreshed,” he says.
Cycling through the lush vegetation of Fratelli | Photo Credit: SPECIAL LOCATION
The Fratelli vineyard was established in Akluj (about a three hour drive from Pune) in 2007. Four years later, four luxurious rooms were added to it. “Initially, the rooms were intended for the accommodation of our teams, directors and colleagues from Italy. In the end, when more people wanted to come and stay overnight, we turned it into Fratelli Estate, a boutique hotel,” says Jayant.
While Indians focus on…