Located just 12 km away from Nashik city in Maharashtra, Soma Vineyard Resort offers one of the best views of the backwaters of Gangapur Dam and the scenic Sahyadri mountain range. For a nature lover, wine enthusiast or a regular traveler, the resort serves as a great weekend getaway.
The turn from the main road leading towards Soma Vine Village carries signs of a potential zone for wine tourism. Reminding me of the designated wine roads of Santorini in Greece that promote a number of wineries located in the same stretch. It usually means that the wineries have agreed to collectively work towards promoting the wines and the region. And, the tourists could enjoy the best of all. In India, it still seems like a far-fetched idea. However, it is a rare coincidence that Sula Vineyards, York Winery, and Soma Vine Village are located just a few meters away from each other. That’s making this stretch of road a rare hotbed of tourist attractions.
As our car enters the driveway into Soma Vineyard Resort I am surprised to see a big crowd at the reception, there are more people outside the entrance. The resort is buzzing with tourists on a Saturday afternoon. The General Manager of the property informs me that it’s just a few weeks since Beyond is functional under Soma’s resort facility (earlier Sula had it on lease from Soma owners) and they are running full, hence the management is still coping with a heavy tourist season traffic.
Pradeep Pachpatil, Chairman and Managing director of Soma Vine Village, planted the vines after buying some land in the outskirts of Nashik in the year 2006. He also built a 3bhk villa amidst the vineyard. Beyond Vineyard Resort took shape in 2010 and was offered on lease to Sula until June 2016. The first vintage of Soma was released in January 2014. However, the vineyard resort was open for public visits and stay from the beginning. Spread over 25 acres with 47 rooms the resort is a perfect location to unwind. The resort overlooks lush green mountains terrains and is surrounded by vineyards.
The property holds 2 luxurious villas (7-bed room each) with private pool and kitchen. Soma Vine Village has three restaurants; Suffiana, a multi cuisine restaurant, Sensation vine lounge which has a perfect view of the vineyards and Vintage- Rotisserie, grill & wine bar serving grills and roasts from kitchens around the world along with appetizers, soups, bouches, and canapés.
For the adventure seeker in you, Soma also has an adventure sports center called Zonkers, which offers, archeries, go karting, aerial rope slide and lot more.
Speaking about his plan, Pachpatil says, “though my aim is to produce good quality, affordable and drinkable wines suited for the Indian palate, promoting wine tourism is the key factor which will drive our company’s future growth path”.
The small winery adjacent to the resort produces a range of wines such as Chenin Blanc (dry and off-dry), Sauvignon Blanc (dry and off-dry), Zinfandel, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of Cab-sauv and shiraz, a shiraz rose, late harvest chenin blanc and sauvignon blanc (the only one in India to produce a late harvest of SB). I also tasted a very impressive sparkling wine (zero-dosage), produced in a traditional method.
While all of Soma’s 100-acre vineyard land surrounds the property, the company hasn’t yet had the need to buy grapes from outside.
Interestingly, around 70-80% of the sales of Soma wines are from the winery itself. As we finish our tasting I notice a group of visitors buying cases of the dessert wines. Pachpatil says, “Our 2014 vintage of the late harvest is completely sold out. There is also a big demand for the zinfandel sweet rose.” With 47 gm. of residual sugar I found the late harvest sauvignon Blanc quite impressive. Though the red wines are yet to get the kind of structure and complexity, the yet to be bottled reserve cab-sauv and Shiraz shows potential.
Pradeep Pachpatil’s 26 yrs journey from being a farmer, viticulturist, winemaker to a wine producer now venturing into the hospitality segment, it all seem like a natural progression.
While many Indian wine producers are still working out the formulas to keep themselves afloat or find a way to make their business a successful venture, the sheer number of visitors at Soma Vineyard Resort (last year more than 10,000 visitors visited soma’s tasting room) indicates that at least Pachpatil has managed to find a perfect solution to this problem. And his vision is to make Soma Vine Village the perfect model of wine tourism in India.