Geeta Anand –blogs.wsj.com
, June 22, 2011As the rain pours down on Mumbai, India Real Time presents recently tried and tested destinations near Mumbai where you can find a little respite.
Beyond, a new vineyard resort outside of Nashik, Maharashtra.WHAT:
A boutique hotel overlooking a lake, nestled in the hills around Sula Vineyards.HOW WE GOT THERE:
We drove from Mumbai.CONTACT:
+91 253-2230141 / +91 253-2230142 / +91 7875555725 at Sula Vineyards or firstname.lastname@example.org.THE PRICE:
6,000 rupees ($133) on weekdays, 7,500 rupees ($166) on weekends, for a double occupancy room and all meals, including an estate tour and tasting.WHAT WE FOUND:
This 20-room hotel and adjoining villa that Sula Vineyards recently opened in the Nashik hills, a five-minute drive from its winery, bring the area’s lush outdoors inside. They offer just what most Mumbaikars need—a chance to commune with nature without giving up too many creature comforts.
We descended on the hotel on its opening weekend with about 20 friends and friends-of-friends—most with young children in tow. After a five-hour drive, longer, because of traffic, than the 3 ½ hours the journey was supposed to take, the rooms were an immediate respite. Named after different varieties of wine grape, they were comfortable and tastefully decorated, opening onto balconies overlooking the spectacular Gangapur Lake and the hotel’s infinity pool.
Everywhere, the hotel has enormous windows showcasing the vineyards, lake and surrounding hills, with sun roofs and shafts to the outside filling the inside with light and fresh mountain air.
The hotel is a brief drive from Sula’s winery, where you get a complimentary tour of the process of winemaking. We learned that Sula, India’s best-known winery, was among the first to begin crushing grapes in the Nashik Valley in 2000. There are now more than 30 vineyards in the district, with more than 100,000 acres of grapes. Beginning with a Sauvignon Blanc
in 2000, Sula Vineyards now produces 23 varieties of wine—most of which you can sample at the company’s wine bar: the Tasting Room.
Indeed, the tour ends in the Tasting Room, the wine bar that is spread over a first floor balcony overlooking the vineyards. It is packed on weekend nights with its offering of all of Sula’s premium wines and appetizers ranging from a French goat cheese platter to a salami platter.
Next door is an Italian restaurant serving wood-fired pizza and pasta. There’s also an Indian restaurant with a tandoor on the premises, making the vineyard a travel destination even for those who aren’t particularly interested in wine.
We spent the first morning at the hotel having the buffet breakfast at the restaurant, Café Rose, overlooking the infinity pool. Then, after massages at the Aura Spa (the hotel’s two superb massage therapists offer 15 types of massages, beginning at 1,500 rupees, or $30, and up), we ventured to the winery for the tour, tasting and dinner.
The next morning, the adventurous headed kayaking on Lake Gangapur. It’s small enough that you needn’t fear strong currents, but big enough that it takes a couple of hours to kayak across. Another group, mostly kids, rode mountain bikes on the narrow roads around, which offer the benefit of having almost no traffic, being 15 kilometers from the edge of Nashik city.
This little resort is a must-visit for anyone needing a little respite from the grit of Mumbai—wine lover or not.