Of Vineyards, Cheese Platters & Concrete Carpets: Sula

Photo of Of Vineyards, Cheese Platters & Concrete Carpets: Sula 1/1 by Amrita Sampath

I look for inspiration to begin writing something and today, I find my inspiration in a rare place… a vineyard. Do not be fooled, this was no humble patch of land that you happen to stumble upon on your way out of Mumbai, this was the wine country… SULA. I’m not sure what made us plan a trip there but my two girl pals and I made our way to this glorious grape farm tucked away on the outskirts of Mumbai. With a drive about 4 hours from the city, we reached our destination. Driving up a narrow road, a massive gate opens up a creaseless concrete driveway like a carpet leading to the resort and the inviting, sweet smell of wine indicating that you’ve reached the famous Sula.

Hopping out of the vehicle, we go to check out the place and we instantly notice the well-watered, blooming flowers, the detailing in the concrete on the sidewalk, the lush green gardens. And just when we’re making mental notes of all this, we look up to see the open balcony restaurant and seating. At the entrance of the building were light holders made of recycled bottles, a wine bottle work-of-art and on the tall glass entrance, the smiling face of the sun with a mooch (the Sula logo). Walking in, the rich aroma of the wineries greets you as you make your way up to the balcony restaurant. Climbing up the stairs, makes you feel like you’ve walked straight into the heartbeat of the place as we passed the dimly lit wine-tasting room, the barrel room, and the wine processing room with the gigantic metal cylinders, all so critical in making Sula what it is. Once we managed to soak it all in, we finally make our way to the balcony and we stop in our tracks. The breath-taking view of all of Sula. We could only stare in silence, trying to absorb it all in. We’re surrounded by mighty hills on 3 sides against the bright sky and beds of grape as far as your vision can see. 160 acres of stunning vineyards, of lush greenary, of sweet aromas, of luxury, of peace. 160 acres of splendor.

It took us a couple more minutes to get over the beauty of the place and make our way down to get ourselves registered for the Sula tour & wine tasting. The tour is a must if you’re visiting for the first time. The wine processing room is where the disciplined, artificial metamorphosis from grape to sweet, smooth alcohol takes place. It’s a massive room with giant size distillers and brewers. The temperature inside is much colder, as expected but what is unexpected is the multiple filtration, distillation & brewing processes that go into making Sula wines.

When we walked into the barrel room next, the cool, wooden barrels stacked purposefully, the dimly lit room, the rows of stored wine all reminded me of the scene from the movie ‘Parent Trap’ and the aging Californian wine owned by the gorgeous Nick Parker. Like Parker’s Californian vineyard, this Sula barrel room also makes for quite a movie set.

We then make our way to the tasting room. Lining up at a table, we are each given a wine glass and after the three step procedure of holding our glasses up to the light, giving it a little swirl and inhaling the intoxicatingly good aroma, we had a sip each of 3 beautiful, satiny, clear liquid gold, fine dine style.

Thoroughly satisfied with our wine tasting experience and a little more knowledge of this grape kingdom, we quenched our taste for Italian food at Little Italy. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the vast expanse of Sula grass, trying to figure shapes in the fluffy clouds against the bright blue sky as the cool January breeze gently danced about.

With just a couple of hours left before we headed back to the city, we decided to walk around the vast vine plantation, see the different types of grapes that were cultivated, click a few pictures and before we knew it, it was almost sunset. The three of us leaned in together to silently watch this magnificent fire ball shy away behind the mountains as The Scientist played in the background. With the fading music, the sun descended until all that was left was an orange sky, the only evidence that there had been a sun.

To finish off our perfect evening, we went back up onto the balcony of the Sula resort, picked a table facing the vineyards, ordered a cheese platter and crackers and in the moonlight, sipped wine. We were in a different place altogether. Sadly, before we knew it, it was time to leave. As we gathered our things and piled into the car, the creaseless concrete carpet now led us out. We looked back and as we turned onto the road, we watched as Sula became distant and small till we couldn’t see it anymore. We sat in silent admiration for all we had seen today. Silent admiration of the vineyard kingdom called Sula.