Sep 10: Thanks to the cancellation of Sula Fest 2021 this year because of Covid, Sula came up with the novel idea of Monsoon Tasting for the trade last month when the green foliage is the best throughout the valley, but it had to be restricted to professionals mainly from Maharashtra due to Covid, though they enjoyed the Tasting in the company of Rajeev Samant, the Founder CEO of Sula, with Karan Vasani and Rupali Bhatnagar conducting the masterclasses following all the Covid norms, writes Subhash Arora
When the rest of the wine industry was nervous about sales this year, Sula had already planned a Monsoon Tasting with the industry professionals a few months ago. Sula Fest 2021 had been cancelled and the visionary producers were contemplating ways and means of staying in touch with the industry and their customers. Although the ambitious plan of inviting wine professionals pan- India as also the journalists (My visit would still have been doubtful even if I had been invited from Delhi), were nixed, a Tasting was organised mostly for the professionals from Maharashtra last month.
The vineyards at Sula and everywhere else are absolutely beautiful and look gorgeous during the monsoons! (In fact, perfect for a wedding if you are a bit of an adventurous wine connoisseur hosting it). Raindrops keep falling on your head or from the window of your room at The Resort and the cool breeze blowing you out of mind, are romantic moments. ‘We wanted to share this blissful experience with our partners and came up with Monsoon Tasting. After all, what better contrast of a glass of red, white, rosé or bubblies against the green foliage through the valley,’ quips Karan Vasani, the Chief Winemaker of Sula Vineyard.
Although Rajeev Samant, Founder CEO of the Sula group was also at hand, spending quality time interacting with guests, a series of masterclasses were curated over two days at this Monsoon Tasting. Rajeev promised to celebrate life with wine in the perfect setting of monsoons in the heart of the wine capital, Nashik and the guests seemed to have been very pleased with the event. The event turned out to be a unique celebration of a few of the most promising sommeliers and people from the F&B industry, with delicious wines, excellent food and fun activities were all woven together with great aplomb.
One could experience the warm hospitality of The Source at Sula-India’s first heritage vineyard resort, boasting majestic views of the vineyards and tranquillity of the valley. The bursting rain clouds bathed the area in a beautiful, misty fog. The resort nestled in the quiet of nature, awakened by the occasional thunder of clouds.
The opening master class, a Sparkling Wine Master Class with Rupali Bhatnagar (AVP & Chief Winemaker - White & Sparkling Wines), who was also selected as one of the Top Ten WOW (Women of Wine) in India at the previous delWine Excellence Awards at Hotel Pullman New Delhi Aerocity and was a featured winemaker in India’s Top Winemakers under 40 and the Top Ten Indian Women winemakers this year, started off the event with bubbles.
Sip after sip, the participants enjoyed tasting the Traditional and Charmat methods of creating bubbles in the sparkling wine. Sula still makes Sparkling Shiraz and Chardonnay using the Traditional method while Il Tropicale has been made lighter on the palate by using the Charmat method.
Neil Fernandes (AVP & Chief Winemaker - Red Wines) conducted the second master class - Wine Maturation, and took the guests through the wine maturation process in the barrels besides the winemaking, which is slightly different than the white wines. Karan Vasani interacted with the invitees at all the sessions.
The third master class would be fun even in any international setting. It reminds me of the 150 –minute Masterclass conducted by Pedro Ballesteros MW in Haro, Spain in September 2016 to which I had also been invited. It was a big highlight of the Haro Station Wine Experience, La Cata del Barrio de la Estación, in which all seven winemakers of the Haro Station District participating wineries were present and tasted the 3-4 components of the 7 wines of the final blends by each participant.
This invigorating Masterclass, The BYOW Master Class (No-you did not have to Bring Your Own Wine but it was a ‘Blend Your Own Wine’ opportunity with the Sula winemaking team. Each team attempted to make its own blends, under the close supervision of the winemakers and presented the master creations with everyone enjoying each other’s creations. As memorabilia, the teams were invited to take their wines home, as is usually the practice at such fun events.
It would be a great idea if Sula incorporated this concept even in their regular wine tourism programme- like at Raymond Vineyards, California where for a certain amount, say Rs.1000, each budding winemaking participant attends a similar workshop and in the end gets to take home the bottle with his/her name inscribed on the bottle.
The Monsoon Tasting was also Sula’s special way of saying a big thank you to the people who work with its wines on a regular basis, It was also to showcase the fantastic wine tourism programme and hospitality operations at Sula and a part of their efforts to bring people and wine closer.
It is encouraging to know that Sula plans to continue hosting more of such exciting and educative events in the future. It is important to mention that in keeping with Sula’s policy of social responsibility, all the Covid norms were strictly followed, including ensuring that all the guests invited were double vaccinated.
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