Vino Weekend

Recently, my girlfriends and I got the chance to take off during the long Diwali weekend and we wanted to go for a quick short trip. After some considerable research of places to go near Mumbai, we finally zeroed on Sula Vineyards in Nashik. I was really excited for this since I had only heard about the vineyards and seen pretty pictures of it online or on friends’ social media feeds. This place is famous for the Sula fest that takes place during the harvest season in February every year. We had booked a hotel near the vineyards. We left on Saturday morning in a rented cab and checked in to our hotel at 3 pm. We quickly got ready and rushed to Sula since we wanted to finish the vineyard trip and head to another nearby winery, Soma to see the sunset as a lot of people had written about pretty sunset views from Soma.

When we reached Sula, it suddenly felt like some fair. It was crowded and like how. There was hardly any place to walk in that huge property. We were really disappointed and decided to directly head to Soma and do the wine tour the next morning before heading back. Soma, on the other hand was empty and pleasant to explore. We directly headed to the terrace restaurant since we were there mainly for two things- wine and sunset, both of which were quite a delight.

 

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Sunset from Soma Vineyard

 

The wine at Soma was quite nice. They had the Chenin Blanc Dessert which was a mixture of peach, dried apricots with lushness of melon and pineapple. It had the perfect balance of sour and sweet with an after taste of apple-honey which made it absolutely palatable. They have another variant in this: the Dessert Sauvignon Blanc which is high in its acidic content with more of pineapple flavour. We spent the entire evening at Soma, drinking wine, walking around the vineyard before calling it a night.

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Next morning, we made sure we reached Sula at 10.30 am (that’s when it opens) so that we get to do the wine tour before the crowd pours in. For spice lovers, there’s a very famous restaurant near Sula, called Sadhana Restaurant where you get charcoal made misal (lentil stew) which is loaded with spice, so much so that my friends had to pour bowls of curd in it to douse the spice. Our wine tour started at 11.30 am, before which we were touring Sula vineyards, which is a huge property. It has an open amphitheatre where the festival takes place, surrounded by lush green gardens.

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From understanding the entire process of grape harvest to what kind of grapes go in making each kind of wine to holding a wine glass properly followed by a finale of wine tasting, the tour was quite enjoyable, so to speak. There were a few myth busters as well like how wine should not be stored for years. It starts to oxidise which eventually makes it completely sour and inedible to drink. Also the fact that Champagne is Champagne. No other brand can use that name. Just like you cannot call France as India, you cannot call sparkling wine Champagne in India. Champagne is the name of a village in France and that’s how the sparkling wine that’s made there is called that.

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Cylindrical tanks in which wine is made

In all we tasted six different kinds of wine: white, red, rosé sparkling wine (my favourite) and three other types of red wine which were late harvest and hence dry in taste.

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Obviously a vino trip is incomplete without wine bottles, so I ended up buying tonnes of bottles to stock them for all the upcoming year end celebrations. Before coming here, I was not sure how the place is going to be cause Nashik is still an orthodox developing town but the vineyards felt like a different world altogether. A must visit place. In fact I plan to visit there again specially during the harvest season between December to March so that I can also do some grape stomping. Will be a lot of fun, I am sure 🙂 Till then happy vining guys!

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All images © Kainat27

The Secret Gateaway!

Last weekend I had the best gate-away I could ever ask for. The entire week’s work takes such a toll on the mind and body that it becomes absolutely essential to have a relaxing weekend to gear for the week that awaits. And, if someone proposes a weekend party or a short vacation, I usually am not up for it unless the place and company is worth indulging. So, something similar happened last week when my father and a couple of his friends had planned a weekend trip to a place situated on the outskirts of the city, Hidden Village. Initially, I was aversive towards being a party to this plan but when I saw the pictures of the place my mind immediately said a yes. With just a 75 kms drive from Mumbai, the drive was pleasant and smooth with the highway being mostly empty in the wee hours of the morning. It took us 2 and a half hours to reach the place (with a halt in between for breakfast) and as the name suggests, the place was actually hidden in a small locality called Atgaon which is 6 kms from Shahpur. For people who do not know, Shahpur is an agricultural and industrial area located on the outskirts of Mumbai.

Hidden Village is in a small corner of a road and the entire place is full of greenery, with beautiful hotel rooms built on hilly terrains. There is a waterfall coming from a nearby dam area which forms an important attraction of this place. Because the place is situated in a village, the feel and experience is also like staying in a village. The staff of the hotel is hardworking, cooperative and extremely warm.

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The entrance to Hidden Village

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Typical village architecture welcomes you to Hidden Village

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rooms were big and spacious to accommodate our group of 13 people comfortably. All kinds of facilities were made available in the rooms starting from extra beddings to bedsheets and pillows. The rooms were air-conditioned with hot water available 24/7. There was a big seating area outside the room with tables and chairs.

The living area in the room

The living area in the room

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Seating space outside room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two days that I was there, the weather was at its best. It was raining and the greenery was endearing with cool breeze blowing throughout the day. When we arrived, the dam water was clean and clear with the flow quite normal to venture and soak ourselves in the cool waters. The next morning when I woke up, I was astonished to see the same dam water turned into coffee colour flowing at gushing speed, owing to the incessant overnight showers.

Clear waters of the dam Tansa

Clear waters of the dam Tansa

Coffee colour water thanks to incessant rains

Coffee colour water thanks to incessant rains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Village is a perfect place for people across all age groups. Apart from the dam, there is a swimming pool to relax in, a recreational section where a number of indoor games are set for having fun with our group members. I particularly enjoyed playing foosball which puts your motor skills to test and can get quite exhausting towards the end. Apart from that, one can easily while away an hour or two by playing carom, pool and table-tennis.

Recreational Centre

Recreational Centre

The best thing about being at Hidden Village is that at no point in time you will feel hungry. The staff there makes sure that you are well fed during your stay. Their breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks consisted of lip- smacking Maharashtrian delicacies, namely, Misal, spicy Chicken, Mutton and Fish curries along with desi desserts to pamper your taste buds.

The Restaurant Area

The Restaurant Area

There was this mini trek trail that one can take within the hidden village and go up to the dam area where you would be greeted by some white ducks. The trek trail is a relaxing walking up the slope with greenery all around and if you are lucky enough you would also spot some rare bird species out there. Make sure to keep your cameras handy to capture these birds and the flowers that you would discover on your way.

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Trekking Trail

 

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Ducks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At reasonable overnight rates, I feel this is the perfect place to sneak away from the hustle of our daily lives because we truly deserve a peaceful get-away over the weekend. You can check their website (www.hiddenvillage.in) in order to check the kind of rooms and tariffs they have to offer. I am sure after checking their website, you will be tempted to pack your bags and drive off in pursuit of relaxation and mental bliss.

 

 

 

All images © Kainat27