Sula Vineyards is largest wine producing company in the country and this Nashik-based vineyard is known for its young wines. Vintage isn’t what the company is focusing on, and it produces young and fresh wines. We have been found of wines and for this reason, Sula invited us to stay with them for a weekend at their resort. As it was just two of us, we needed something that is rich, stylish and rugged. To match with this, we took the Audi Q3— a compact SUV that is crafted for those who are young and trendy. Now, there are several SUVs that fulfill the requirements, but the Q3 gets the Quattro as assurance to not get stuck on marshy land.
The Audi Q3 gets the 2.0-litre TDI engine that produces about 180bhp of power and 380Nm of peak torque. This 2.0-litre engine has been one of our favourites and even the transmission that comes paired to it is a self-shifting seven-speed dual clutch one, and Audi calls its as S-Tronic. The Q3 is a Quattro, hence it transmits power to all the wheels in case of loss of traction.
To escape the rush hour and the heat, we left at about sunrise, when the God of Fire had just woken up the city from its deep sleep. If winters are bad in Europe, summers are worse in the Indian sub-continent. Everything looses colour and with so much dust, the landscape loose the lush green character. Similar is the case of the Mumbai-Nashik highway that begins after the concrete jungles of Mumbai and Thane. It is a dual carriage highway with several villages and small towns in between. It does by-pass towns, however the villages are adjacent to the highway and several times one needs to slow down for a crossing cow or a villager. One will also come across several riders with closed mirrors and not responsive to your horn.
We have always loved the performance of this 2.0-litre oil burner and now with this seven-speed transmission, the power band is spread more evenly. We were comfortably cruising at a speed of 100km/hr in the top cog, as the engine was spinning at about 2000rpm, returning the best possible fuel efficiency. The Q3’s air-conditioning protected us from the sun and even cooled us throughout the journey as we enjoyed the music that was floating through the speakers. There aren’t several good locations to stopover, however there is a food court with KFC and Dominos, once you cross the first toll-booth and the second one good option is Manas Resort, which is located in Igatpuri.
Once in Nashik, you will see several sign posts to Sula Vineyard. You will have to go via MIDC, Nashik and the narrow roads of SH27 to reach Sula. On the way, there are several Gulmohar trees that add a dash some scenic beauty with its orange leaves. The vineyard has a nice entrance and you are welcomed with grape plantations on both the sides, the moment you enter the property. Here is located a tasting room and a couple of restaurants called Soma and Little Italy (serving Indian and Italian food respectively). You are served with all the Sula wines made in Nashik, Dindori and Karnataka.
The place is full even on a weekday evening, and you will find people coming from different cities like Mumbai and even Surat for a weekend gateaway. Sula offers a variety of wines with about 18-19 different wines, with a mix of red, white, rose and sparklings. At the moment only 2012 are on sell and in vintage the 2011 of certain grapes. Most of their wines bottles are screw tops, expect for one which has a wooden cork on it. As the wines aren’t vintage, most of them aren’t stored in barrels. The few oak barrels in use are a mix of French and American wood.
Sula is the first vineyard that planted Sauvignon Blanc grapes in India, back in 1996. Nashik has been the biggest hub in India for table grapes, and Sula was the first to grow grapes for wines. We drove through some of the vineyards, and the Quattro on the Q3 also made sure of the grip on the road. Soon, after lunch we went to see our night stay, the hotel is called as Beyond and it about 4 kilometres away from the restaurants. It is a small hotel with about 32 rooms to stay in, and a villa. One is a basic room and the second one is a luxury one, and the cost of the room is a tad higher than one would expect— a little more than the Taj Gateaway in Nashik (Rs 7,000 for the basic room and Rs 9,500 for luxury). The villa is a complete steal with three bedrooms, small pool and a lawn available. It costs about Rs 22,000 per night on a weekend, and it is worth the buck when the costs are split.
The food in Beyond is just moderate in taste and the cost of the Sula wines is as expensive as any other restaurant. So, there is no advantage of staying in a Sula hotel, unless you buy your own bottles from the vineyard and have them in your room. The Sula imported wines and alcohols are also served in this restaurant. The Beyond is a good property to stay in for the weekend, and we will recommend the regular room over the luxury one. Overall, it is a good weekend getaway as it offers scenic view, cool and pleasant Nashik evenings— away from the dust and pollution— decent wines. Isn’t that all you need for a weekend? Another good bit is, the network reception at Beyond isn’t good and you can take a break from all the phone calls, unless you are unlucky. We did have a pleasant time in the Audi and in Beyond, and it is definitely a good place to run away on a weekend from all-the city buzz.
NOTE: We do not encourage Drinking and Driving, neither did we perform such an act.