Wine tours - a whole new weekend getaway

Last Updated: Mar 02, 2011, 10:01 AM IST

Nashik : Imagine walking through acres of grape plantations surrounded by mountains with a glass of your favourite wine in hand...It could make you feel a bit like Keanu Reeves in the Hollywood romance "A Walk In The Clouds" shot in and around Napa Valley, California. But the wine tour comes right here in India.

To create awareness about wine, a web portal organises wine tours in Nashik, known as the wine capital of India because of its vineyards.

"Our wine tour is called the Vineyard Discovery programme and we just had one this weekend. The guide took the guests to various vineyards like those of Sula, York, Zampa and even the lesser known Mountain View vineyard, where we gave interesting inputs about wine and the intricate process of winemaking," Avijit Barman, the organiser, told reporters.

"Then at every vineyard, wine tasting sessions are also organised and you can taste some of the best wines of Nashik valley for free."

Vineyard Discovery`s packages offer a one night, two-day tour at Rs.9,500 per person and Rs.17,000 per couple and this includes the pickup and dropback from Mumbai, stay and food.

There are others who offer cheaper packages that don`t cover the pickup from Mumabi. Unity Wine Tours, for instance, charges Rs.2,335 per person.

"We started last year because we were passionate about travel and wine. So this was a good option. we have taken around eight tours so far," said Gaurav Chitnis, owner of Unity Wine Tours.

The package of Black Grape Holidays costs Rs.3,900. Tours are conducted on weekends starting Saturday and one can plan a weekday visit but with prior confirmation.

Indus Wines vineyard, which started its winery in July 2005, also organises such trips.

Another wine tour in Nashik is organised by Oaks Wine Tours, a relatively new player. "We have just started. Usually people come to Nashik and, after a day, they don`t have much to do here; so we decided to organise this tour that can give them an experience which is different, entertaining and informative," said Harpreet J. Singh, the promoter of the tour.

The vineyards are covered in shades of dark and light green; and colouful flowers make the sight prettier. Loomy red soil or dark soil offer the perfect contrast.

The weather is hot during the day, but evenings are pleasant and nights quite cool. And with mountains surrounding the vineyards, the view is breathtaking.

In the open, the fragrance of flowers and grapes pervade, while the smell of oak hangs in the air indoors, specially where wine is stacked in oak barrels.

Wine is not one of the favourite drinks in the country, but these tours are stoking curiosity.

The tours usually take guests to various vineyards located in and around Nashik. The visitors meet wine educators who welcome guests by offering them a variety of wines made there and show them the process as well. And the guests are allowed to go for long walks in the vineyards.

"I`ve been having wine for a long time and wanted to know more about the drink. When I got to know about this tour, I thought this will be a good way to see everything and also enjoy a weekend away from Mumbai. So I got my family along with me too," said Mumbai-based Andrew Williams, who was part of the Vineyard Discovery programme.

There are vineyards in the more temperate climate of the northwestern state of Punjab as well as Tamil Nadu, but the largest wine producing regions are Nashik, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Wine tours are picking up.

Said a wine educator at Sula Vineyards: "We get a lot of people every day for these tours. A lot of people are interested to know about wine, which is great."

Burman said the guides who take visitors for tours are those involved in the industry. "In India, there are no special or dedicated wine educators or people for wine education. Many of these are people involved in some or the other work in the wineries.

"These can be either winemakers, wine salesperson, wine biologists or even counter boys," he said.

So if you are looking at doing something different this weekend, how about a wine tour?