Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Entwined in a grapevine




-By Swetha Amit,October 17th,2007

http://www.domain-b.com/leisure/travel/20071017_entwined.html




There are very few places in India that can boast of having vineyards in their backyards and Nashik is one amongst them. Nashik has the prestige of being one of India's biggest grape wine producers and hence has acquired a new nom de guerre — the grape city.

Tucked away within 5-6 km from the city is the popular brand of 'Sula Wines' with vineyards spread over 335-acre land. We transported ourselves to this serene place situated on Gangapur road by a local cab. A 45-minute drive gave us a preview of the oddly shaped hills and the picturesque beauty of nature on either side of the long winding roads.

Reaching this lavish locale during dusk, we couldn't help but gaze in admiration at the bountiful spread of lush green vines entwined in a unique fashion. The exquisite beauty of these evergreen contours was highlighted during twilight in the soft rays of the sinking sun. We also got a glimpse of a pretty lake snaking its way beyond these flourishing plantations. Entering this enterprising estate gave us a delightful feeling of having landed on an exquisite soil, akin to any other picturesque foreign locale.

The staff extended their hospitality with a warm welcoming smile. We were given a tour of the place during which we learnt about the wine making process. This was followed by the best part of the tour — the one that we were looking forward to! We were invited upstairs to taste wine. Not only did we taste wine but were also informed about the nuances of wine tasting. Those who aren't familiar to this are taught the intricacies of wine tasting which is a vital part of the culture abroad.

We were given a plethora of options of different varieties of white, red and Rosa (which means pink in French) wines to choose from. Slowly we learnt that the diverse names come from the various varieties of grapes. (And here we thought there were only green and black grapes!) Each drink varies in taste according to the sweetness, which is based on the alcohol content. We were dumbfounded when we were told that this sophisticated drink differs in taste as one takes a small sip from different corners of the mouth. It was reported that most Indians showed their preference to the Chenin Blanc variety of the white wine due to its higher content of sweetness. And foreigners preferred the Zinfandel variety of the red wine that is slightly bitter.

The cost of a glass of drink is around Rs100-150 and the wine tasting price of 5 drinks is around Rs150. We were given the choice of purchasing a bottle of wine, which was priced between Rs300-400. Tucking few bottles for future consumption, we placed an order for a glass of wine and seated ourselves in the balcony overlooking the green meadows. It is difficult to describe the lovely mixture of a soft wine and cool breeze along with the tranquility offered by the extended yards. The whole scenario transcended us into a different world with a European touch.

A visit to this place is a must for every visitor to Nashik, especially for those on business travel. It helps us unwind ourselves after a long day of stress and worries. It is a change from the smoke filled, claustrophobic ambience of noisy pubs. Yet it gives a pleasant and exhilarating experience to relish this soothing drink that is apparently good for the veins while the enjoying the healthy aura of the nature. This enchanting two-hour experience gave us a feeling of being entwined in these grape wines!

How to get to the Vineyards

By Road - You will have to take your own vehicle. From the Nasik-Mumbai Road, turn left at Mumbai Naka and proceed till Ashok Stambh. A turn towards Gangapur will takes us to Gangapur Dam. Along the left side of the road, you will spot the direction sign board of Sula Vineyards. Turn left and follow the direction boards to the Vineyards.

Trivia

1. Wines are produces by crushing grapes. The juice is allowed to ferment for a period of 6 months to 1 year. During this time, the sugar in the juice gets converted to alcohol. Longer the time given for fermentation, higher the alcohol content.

2. White wine is 'clear' as it is made of clear juice fermented after the crushing whereas to make red wine, the juice is stored with crushed red grape skin before fermentation. This allows the juice to take the colour of the skin.

3. Drinking wines especially 'red wine' in moderation helps reduce the risk of heart ailments, prostrate cancer and even diabetes.

4. Some of the world's most expensive and sought after wines are made in France. The top wine producing nations are Argentina, Chile, The United States, Germany, Austria,
Hungary, Italy, South Africa, Portugal, Romania and Spain.

5. Sula wines are known to enjoy its popularity amongst the residents, tourists and also form a part of the export business to countries like California, Germany, etc.

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