CEO, Sula Vineyards
Rajeev Samant, Founder and CEO of Sula Vineyards, was born and raised in Mumbai, India. After schooling at Cathedral School, Mr. Samant gained admission to California’s prestigious Stanford University, from where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and also completed a Master’s degree in Engineering Management. After Stanford Mr. Samant worked at Oracle Corporation in Silicon Valley for two years, where he had the distinction of being the youngest manager in Oracle’s Finance Division, managing the Compensation group. In 1993 Mr. Samant decided to return to India to follow an entrepreneurial path.
He started farming mangoes at his family’s 20-acre plot in Nasik and then tried his hand at various crops like roses, teakwood, and grapes. Realizing that Nasik had potential as a wine region, Mr. Samant established Sula Vineyards, Nasik’s first winery in 1999. It was a pioneering effort and today Nasik is considered India’s wine capital with 35 wineries. Sula Vineyards quickly established a reputation as India’s Leading Premium Wine Producer, and Mr. Samant was the first to introduce varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel and Riesling to India.
In November 2002, Wine Spectator – the world’s No.1 wine magazine – did a five-page feature on Sula, a proud first for an Indian winery. Starting with a sale of 50,000 bottles in the first year, Sula emerged as India’s largest wine producer after completing a decade in 2010 with 3 million bottles sold. Sula Vineyards is also a leader in sustainable winemaking, and has created direct and indirect employment opportunities for thousands of rural youth.
Sula Vineyards’ import arm, Sula Selections is today one of the leading importers of wines and spirits into India representing brands such as Remy Cointreau, William Grant & Sons, Hardys and Ruffino.
Rajeev is also a pioneer in India’s wine tourism opening the first tasting room at Sula in 2005, restaurants and recently a 32-room vineyard resort. His latest project is Vinoteca – Mumbai’s first authentic Spanish Wine and Tapas bar. He is an avid sportsman and enjoys running, yoga, diving, windsurfing and playing tennis in his playtime.