As most of you may already know, Nashik is the wine capital of India. In the past decade, the region has put Indian wines on the world map with a host of vineyards setting up shop here and producing some international quality wines.
As a result, Nashik has turned into a popular weekend getaway destination for a lot of wine lovers from Mumbai, Pune and, of course, other parts of the country.
Recently, I was invited by The Gateway Hotel Ambad Nashik, to go on a luxury and wine trail. While much has been spoken and written about driving from Mumbai to Nashik, and stopping at the different vineyards, the luxury traveller is often looking for a more wholesome experience. The Gateway Hotel Ambad Nashik has understood this and has incorporated several wine elements into their hotel. Read about my luxurious wine weekend in Nashik.
It was an early start from Mumbai and before we knew it, we were outside Mumbai, driving through the hills and acres of greenery. The drive from Mumbai to the Taj’s Nashik property takes about three and a half to four hours. I was already excited. The mood was set for a lovely wine experience and I couldn’t wait for it to begin. We did stop halfway at a small restaurant to grab a quick bite. A few hours later, we drove into the magnificent gates of the hotel.
I was greeted by the hotel staff — who, by the way, proved themselves to be exceptionally hospitable and caring throughout my stay — and they served me a refreshing, chilled kokum drink. I then proceeded to check into my wine suite.
The Wine Suites
I find the design concept of the premium category rooms at this hotel pretty interesting and a great way to blend in the wine element, and give the hotel a sense of context. Each wine suite is named after a type of wine — Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir.
I got to stay in Merlot. Each room is tastefully furnished with a king-sized bed, elegant furniture and a colour-coordinated theme to suit the name. Since Merlot is a red wine, you can imagine how gorgeous and luxuriously refined it looked.
The best feature of these suites are the private sit-out gardens. It is such a delight to wake up to a private garden, which lends itself perfectly for a relaxing morning coffee. Pure bliss!
Later that day, I had a lunch reservation at the in-house restaurant, Citrine, so I took the liberty of checking out the beautiful bathroom, which was stocked with Forest Essentials and fabindia bathroom amenities.
Lunch was set for 1pm and I was excited to see what the menu was going to be like. Lunch was amazing, with a fixed menu of only the best! The whole meal looked so delicious, I was extremely full by the end of it, but I had to taste everything. So good!
Wine Trail at Sula Vineyards
After lunch, I retired to my suite for a short afternoon siesta and a visit to the spa to pamper myself a little. I opted for a foot massage, which was so relaxing. We then got back onto the road and headed out to some wine tasting at Sula vineyards!
We were taken on a tour of the Sula factory and learnt all about the process of wine making. Walking through the factory and being shown the barrel room, etc. was extremely fascinating, I must say. We tasted various types of wine, in their tasting room which is decorated and designed beautifully with huge wine and champagne bottles all around.
Wine, paired with cheese, crackers and ‘goat cheese’ also made by Sula, I was extremely satisfied by my wine tasting experience. The wines they served us, included Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Brut, Chenin Blanc, etc. It was a lovely evening, and I had the most beautiful company too. Sitting out on their mezzanine, overlooking the acres of vines, the serenity was overwhelming.
I absolutely love it when a hotel integrates art into its decor. Especially when it is reflective of a particular theme. Later that evening, I chatted with artist Shishir Shinde who created a 50-foot-long painting, depicting the entire wine-making process on a single canvas.
He has a number of paintings, including one painted specifically for Sachin Tendulkar (I heard Sachin adored it). Shishir is so talented, and so unassuming when you meet him. It was such a delight to dine with him, and I’m super excited because he plans to showcase in Mumbai soon!
I proceeded to eat dinner in the company of Shishir at the Grill, the hotel’s outdoor restaurant. Appetisers were brought around, and I could not hold off the feta and watermelon sticks. At the Grill, you can choose your own meat (or for those who prefer vegetarian food, veggies or cottage cheese in that case.) You can choose your own sauce or marination, and your own side dish and the chef will grill it for you. The flavour and perfection to which my meal was grilled to was marvellous. I chose char grilled prawns, marinated in their house spices, accompanied by yummy peri peri fries. I have to say here, that all the food that I was served was absolutely delicious! After some dessert wine from Vallonne Vineyards (Vin De Passerillage), and some mango and chocolate dessert (which to my delight had my name on it), I was ready for a good night’s sleep.
One of the really lovely things about my stay there, was that everything was so personalised. Little elements that can really delight a guest. For instance, while we were at dinner, the staff went to our suites and had them straightened out. On our beds, they left a very very thoughtful surprise for us; a meditation pillow! I was definitely going to sleep well that night.
The next morning I woke up feeling fresh. Breakfast was delightful, there were myriad things to choose from. That’s when the chef came up to my table and put these delectable looking mini pancakes in front of us. I could not resist. Yum!
The last stop on our itinerary was to be at Vallonne Vineyards, which is a winery that produces premium French-style wine. Of course, we were taken on a tour, and then we tasted the wine! The wine tasting experience was as lovely as ever.
We were offered six different wines to taste, namely; Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Vin De Passerillage, Syrah Merlot, and Viognier. Of all the wine I tasted on this trip, my favourite has to be the Vin De Passerillage, which I mentioned earlier was a dessert wine.
Their vineyards are stunning, as well as their accommodation, which consists of four bedrooms (with a rustic, homely feel) at the moment, although they plan to expand soon. It is a ‘must-visit’.
We were served lunch at their restaurant Malaka Spice, and enjoyed their pumpkin chips, top hats, skewered chicken, etc. and not to forget, SOME MORE WINE!
If you’re looking for a weekend getaway in the wine-producing region of Nashik, this is the itinerary I suggest. The Gateway Hotel Ambad Nashik’s wine suites are an absolute treat and a luxurious base, from where you can explore the nearby vineyards. A night at this suite could cost you around 25k a night, including breakfast. While the hotel is not about over-the-top luxury, the rooms and suites are very luxurious indeed. With great service and food to moot, the hotel scores on all counts.
Experienced By Kristianne Mascarenhas