Feb 05: The recently concluded SulaFest has been a soulful but mixed bag of experiences, impressions and perceptions for Sheetal Kadam who has been visiting SulaFest for almost four years but second time as a Correspondent for delWine and feels that India’s biggest vineyard music festival hosted by Sula Vineyard is cruising along on a similar pattern every year but still giving new experience to the visitors
Sula Vineyards, India’s pioneer wine producer has been organizing SulaFest for 13 years, taking it to newer heights and has been now cruising along at least since I enjoyed it first 4 years ago. The Fest attracts celebrities, actors, artists, journalists, writers, food bloggers, wine experts, music lovers and visitors from all demographics and communities from India and even overseas. It is also a great opportunity for sponsors to promote their products and services on a larger scale. It was powered by US Polo, Paul and Mike Chocolate Bars, LF and presented by Panzani fresh pastas in its 13th edition.
The entrance leading to the semi-shaded area “Vinosphere” where the iconic Sula bottle was placed on the center, surrounded by stalls of their associate partners-such as Royal Enfield motor bike, Bisleri to quench your thirst, beauty brand Sugar to enhance your beauty during the fest, Centre fresh offering mouth freshener samples helping you to get closer to your partner.
The major attraction at the Vinosphere was the Masterclass conducted by the Founder- Director Mr. Kerry Damskey, Chief Winemaker Karan Vasani and their Sommelier Gregoire Verdin. This one hour sit down Masterclass with limited seats was complimentary and open to all and was a great opportunity for many to understand the insights on making of Sula wine, accompanied by wine tasting. Paid wine tastings were also available at the tasting rooms at Rs. 400 for six wines.
In the Alcobev section Dia offered sparkling Rose wine in a can. These white, stylish cans looked very convenient to hold. The beauties holding the Rose wine glass made it more attractive to spot amongst the Alcobev brand category.
Sula wine stands were seen brimming with wide range of wine varieties. Worth a mention, the message boards at every counter boldly stated “No alcohol will be served to persons below legal drinking age.” This loud and clear message to the teenagers seemed to be impactful even later in the evening during the fest.
Beluga noble Russian Vodka is part of Sula Selections portfolio. This stand-alone bar offered a selection of exotic vodka cocktails. The cocktails were served in the non-breakable, portable, cute little take away jars.
To beat the heat the Budweiser beer was a perfect stopover for many of us. Also, the Monster energy drink provided more power energy to dance and play at the fest. Indulgence partner London Dairy ice-cream was present to cool you down in the scorching heat.
Even the food vendors don’t miss the excellent opportunity of extending their hospitality services to the milling crowds. Gourmet Land filled with delicacies and lip-smacking cuisine from Malaka Spice, Biryani by Kilo, Rolls Mania, Burger Barn, Olive Bistro and Bar, SodaBottleOpenerWala, RAW juices, The Grilled Cheese Co, Urban Spice, Raw Pressery and Café Arabia were there to satisfy your hunger pangs.
The safe and secure card payment was facilitated by “mswipe” machines, as cash handling was not encouraged. One could also buy a smart card by topping up a minimum of Rs. 500 which many found very expensive. The Flea Bazar was full with the gift shops of goodies and souvenirs. Kosch Elements offered sunglasses to protect your eyes from dust and sun as you flaunted them.
Music in the vineyard
On the Saturday afternoon the inaugural music show was presented by the Sindhi Curry (India) followed by Smalltalk (India), When Chai-met-toast (India), Jah Sun & The Rising Tide (USA), Rumba de Bodas (Italy), Hot Chip (UK), Ashes (India), Sashanti (Russia), Kohra (India), Boxia (UK) and Spindoctor & Friends (India).
A bit of gambling instinct? Adda 52.com Poker sponsored the online poker and card games site; the poker booths were predominantly visible. Sleepy cat India’s perfect mattresses were placed at the chill zone for you to relax while enjoying the blissful music.
With the sun going down the audience was seen walking on air! The resonating amphi stage was throwing back the fieriness- especially the Hot Chip band’s performance. Unfortunately the performances got over by 11 pm as required by law. Every soul drenched in the bliss and intoxicated by the music moved towards the exits. A small path leading to night camping tents was soon seeing people gush through.
Express inn was the hospitality partner to offer staying facility to the visitors. I am not sure if any special tariff rates were offered. I stayed at Ginger Hotel near Sula Vineyards, for which I paid Rs. 11,314 for one night’s stay! When I enquired from the hotel manager I was surprised to know the rate was three times the normal cost, increased during SulaFest. All the properties nearby and around Sula vineyards get booked in advance at higher prices every year during these 2 days. So one needs to book well in advance.
Undoubtedly, nearby wineries on the way to Sula and around Sula benefited by the spillover footfall of visitors. I could see the crowd visiting York winery en-route to Soma Wine Village, a perfect wine holiday destination.
SulaFest entry tickets were available on Paytm insider where I bought the ticket for Rs. 3314 for one day only as the entry fees. This was higher than last year and a major reason for many of us to visit for a day only, the live music performances by another set of International Bands next day notwithstanding. Though I couldn’t be a part of SulaFest next day the bands that performed were reportedly Mike Akida (Greece) Voctronica (India), Electrophazz (France), The Local Train (India), My Baby (Netherlands) Salim Sulaiman Music (India), Zeeqar (India), Ana Lilia (Mexico), Jonas Rathsman (Sweden) and Doctor Dru (Germany).
The eye-catching hoardings generously placed on the avenues had a social appeal “Drive Responsibly” to seriously create an awareness of moderate drinking by avoiding over consumption of alcohol. Safety and security of every individual was ensured from the Police force I could see deployed. A good number of bouncers were seen strictly keeping eye on anybody misbehaving. I heard them shouting “No smoking allowed inside” but not everyone followed the instruction.
I had an appointment so I wanted to go out for a while and come back. But I was told by the bouncers at the exit point that re-entry was not allowed. This was quite discouraging for me and I wondered what if there were some emergency; simply stamping the band could suffice! However, safe to say that SulaFest maintained its international standards as always.
Sula Fest 2021 would be awaiting your comments after Feb 6-7; traditionally it is held on the first weekend of February every year during the harvest.
Mumbai-based Sheetal Kadam is a graduate in Agriculture with an MBA in International Business. She is also a 'Certified Cultore' by Alfiere Italico- Wine, a certified wine course designed and organized internationally by Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IICCI) outside Italy, in Mumbai. She is currently pursuing Diploma in WSET (Level 4). She has worked with Indian wine producers in marketing in Pune for a year. Sheetal may be contacted at email@example.com
For earlier related Articles, please visit:
SulaFest 2020: India’s Vineyard Music Festival back on Feb 1-2
SulaFest 2019: Record Crowd for a single Day on Sunday
SulaFest ready to Rock n Roll for Tenth Year
Sulafest-Mini Woodstock in Nashik