Lots of Wining

15 Dec

This weekend five of my expat friends and I headed to Nasik, one of India’s holiest cities.  Our plans did not include touring temples, however.  We were there to explore Nasik’s reputation as the Napa Valley of India.

We left Mumbai’s Victoria Terminus on Friday evening on the train bound for Nasik.  We arrived at the station around 10 p.m. and spilt up into two rickshaws.  “Ah, Sai Palace,” the drivers said without hesitation when we told them where we were staying.  I thought it was comforting that we didn’t need to repeat the name, give directions, etc.  Half and hour–if not more–later, we arrived at Sai Palace, after taking what the drivers called a short-cut and what I called a circuitous route down unlit back roads so that the meter would be higher.

At the entrance to the hotel, the drivers told us the cost for the trip would be 250 Rs, but we refused to pay before checking with the hotel to find out why it took so long to get there, when according to the hotel website, they’re located five kilometers from the train station.  So, we stormed up the driveway and into the hotel like a hurricane, and all started talking at the same time.  The drivers followed us in, talking over us to the staff in Hindi.

After the hotel manager explained to us that the hotel is located 10 km from the station, not the advertised 5, we paid the rickshaw drivers.  “You see, we have three hotels,” the manager said.  “And one of them is located 5 km from the station, and the others are a little further.”  Never mind, of course, that all of the hotels have different names and websites.  “You need to update your website then,” one of the girls told them.  We got our keys, checked into our rooms, and met in the downstairs restaurant for a late dinner.

“We’re moving to another room,” Alaina said as she and Kat, her roommate for the weekend, joined us in the booth.  “I pulled back the covers, and there was hair everywhere,” she continued.  “We’ve already talked to the manager and he’s agreed to give us another room for tonight.”   The vineyard tours weren’t until the next day, but wine was necessary at that point.  I wouldn’t be surprised if copies of our passport photos have been posted around Nasik with warnings that we’re complete pains-in-the-ass, and it would be in the hotels’ best interests to never book a room for us.

The next morning, we took advantage of the complimentary breakfast then went to the front desk to arrange a car for the day.  The desk attendant was very pleasant (probably because she did not have to deal with us the previous night) and set the price for us before we left.

York Winery

We arrived at York Winery just a little before noon.  We took in the fresh, cool air and the view of the lake and vineyards before our guide, who goes by Cash–and who we called “Cash Money”–led us to the tasting room and then on a tour.  While the tours are interesting and educational, talking about wine just makes me want to drink it, so I tend to zone out.

We were the only people there and had the whole tasting room to ourselves.  We drank the samples, lounged for a while, purchased a couple of bottles to take with us, then had our driver take us to Sula.

At Sula, we were far from the only visitors.  The place was packed.  Our first priority was to have a late lunch at Little Italy, one of the restaurants at the winery.  The meal was one of the best I’ve had in India, and definitely the best non-Indian meal I’ve had here.  For starters, the pizza sauce was real sauce and not ketchup, as is usually the case.  The salads were light and fresh, and the dessert…

We ordered a tiramisu and a chocolate bomb (molten lava cake with vanilla ice cream) to share among the six of us.When the chocolate bomb arrived, we all grabbed a spoon.  I was lucky enough to be sitting in the middle of the table and had easy access.  The girls on the ends lunged out of their chairs to get a scoop before it was all gone.  Within twenty seconds, there was not a bite left.  “Waiter, another chocolate bomb!”  We sat there, just staring at the empty bowl.  Well, at least I did.  We took a few bites of the tiramisu.  It had tasted much better before we tried the chocolate bomb.  The second one arrived.  More chaos.  A minute later, all gone.  “We really should have ordered six of these,” one of the girls said.  Kat asked for the bill before we turned that idea into reality.

The Sula tasting room was swarming with visitors.  There was a half-hour wait for the next available tour, so we wandered around the vineyard taking pictures to kill time.  At 5:30 we joined the large group for the tour.

Thirty minutes later, our tasting began at the bar.  Halfway into it, Rajeev, the founder and CEO of Sula approached us and introduced himself and his business partners, a couple in town from Napa Valley, to us.  We ordered a few bottles of wine, grabbed a table on the terrace, and invited the three of them to join us.  Multiple bottles of wine later, we headed to the Rajeev’s house for dinner and, of course, more wine.


restaurant @ Sula



One Response to “Lots of Wining”

  1. Jackie December 15, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    Sounds heavenly… except for the hair in the bed part!

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