Ensconced amidst the picturesque vineyards, The Source at Sula is a luxury boutique winery resort built in Tuscan style architecture in the heart of Nashik’s wine growing region, yet another unique hospitality offering from Sula Vineyards
The recently launched The Source at Sula celebrates the heritage of India’s leading wine company. The vineyard resort, which looks straight from Tuscany’s countryside, is at the same location where the original winery of Sula Vineyards once stood. “When we decided to make the resort, we retained 90 per cent of the original structure, which was built in 1996. Consequently, all the rooms have different sizes,” says Monit Davale, VP – Hospitality, Sula Vineyards, pointing out that there are many stories to tell – the place where grapes were crushed, where the chief winemaker used to sit, viticulture office, and others. The name, The Source was selected because this is where Sula started. The old infrastructure has been retained to preserve those memories.
There are total 23 rooms, including four tree houses that overlook the vineyards. Those who are keen to be closer to nature and not stay in the luxurious hotel rooms, can take the option of putting up in the tree houses and enjoy a different kind of an experience altogether. All the rooms, which have a distinctive European feel, have different names on the famous wine regions of the world.
At the Vinospa, guests can indulge in some exclusive treatment. There is also a tennis court, and a swimming pool area just behind it. A cycling path is being created within the vineyards. It will be a proper track so that even in monsoons, guests can enjoy the experience. Apart from cycling, gym, game of tennis, the highlight for guests is the winery tour and tasting. “Nashik is famous for temples, some guests also seek packages that include half a day temple tour. Based on what a guest wants we make tailor-made packages. There are often wine and cheese tastings, conversations with winemaker. We are starting Sunday morning yoga by the pool side,” informs Davale.
At the resort there is a cafetaria that serves breakfast and snacks, it is not however a full fledged restaurant. There are two restaurants in the campus, Little Italy and Soma. The conference room has a separate entrance, which makes it perfect for day conferencing delegates who can arrive without disturbing the in-house guests. Food can also be served here or if they require arrangements can be made at the restaurants. The amphitheatre hosts many weddings and wedding related events. The most famous event is of course the much celebrated Sula Fest.
“The first Sula Fest saw 250 people, the 10th edition last year attracted people.
Currently 250,000 people visit a year (as per 2016). These comprise day travellers and those who stay. Nashik was always a pilgrim place, but Sula has brought tourism to this part of the state,” shares Davale, adding that when Sula started two things happened – firstly, lot of rural employment was generated as major chunk of the employees are from the nearby villages. Secondly, many people started visiting the area. “Wine tourism is a new concept in the country and was started from Sula, and then other wineries started adopting it, which makes us happy because it will help in expanding the industry. The wine market is so small as compared to the total alco-bev market, there is a huge potential for growth,” remarks Davale. He reminds that the growth of their hospitality segment in Nasik has been very organic. The tasting room was launched in 2005, and The Sula Fest started in 2008. The amphitheatre and Little Italy also came up in 2008. The Little Italy is a vegetarian restaurant, and farm to folk experience. The Indian restaurant Soma was started in 2010. “The increase in footfall at Sula is growing 15 to 20 per cent every year. A tent city (300 numbers) is put up during Sula Fest. There are tieups with other hotels for Sula Fest and conferences,” informs Davale.
There are a few wines which are not readily available in the market, but are exclusively available here. The recently launched The Source Grenache Rosé, which is dedicated to the resort will also be only available here. Chief winemaker Karan Vasani was inspired by the resort to introduce this Super Premium Rosé. “We would like to keep certain wines which are available only here so that we give a reason for people to visit and enjoy something different, which they do not get anywhere else,” says Vasani. In 2016, about 55,000 people did wine tasting at the Sula. The tour starts from the vineyard to the wine-making operations and ends up at the tasting cellar where they get to taste six wines from Sula’s Elite range. The wine-making team does not just work in the cellars but also with farmers at the vineyards, to monitor the quality of grapes.
A short drive from The Source at Sula, is another landmark property, Beyond by Sula, which actually as the name suggests is beyond everything, set in a serene natural environs overlooking the Gangapur Lake. The sky villa at the property opens up to the little vineyard and the river. A stay at the sky villa is like being one with the elements – the sky, the earth and the waters of the river. There are seven cottages near the villa, which also give an exclusive feeling of luxury amidst nature.