I would like to address this to the organizers of “Sula Wines”, who believe/ claim that they are at the forefront of Indian Wine Revolution. This is a complete lie, and you guys are CHEATS. You have cheated not just people like us who came all the way from Mumbai, looking to immerse in the pleasures of wine & learn more about it, but the entire culture that wine drinking is associated with.
Painfully, i am writing about my experience of attending the Nashik Sula Wine Festival 2012, a complete disaster and disappointment. What began as a weekend of bliss turned out to be literally a weekend of piss!
Having heard about a wine festivals being organized from the makers of a well known wine brand, Sula, my friends and myself booked our tickets by bookmyshow.com, looking forward to a fun filled weekend of wine tasting by different brands, learning more about nuances of identifying the texture, indulging in the sensory examination & evaluation of wines. We looked forward to meeting sommeliers , having intelligent conversations about the history of wine, its inception in India and so on! We checked online, and read about activities like grape stomping, seeing the wine making process at Sula, and were looking forward to our weekend .
Of course there was no break up of activities happening in the festival that was mentioned, either at bookmyshow, or on the Sula website. The only information available was the music bands that were coming to perform at the fest. The only option we had was to either by a one day ticket of Rs. 1000/ person, or buy tickets for two days together & thus we booked the two day event ticket costing Rs. 1800 per person.
Despite the fact, that accommodation at all hotels in Nashik were booked courtesy the wine festivals, and travelling was super expensive, we somehow managed our way in the city of Nasik in the morn of 4th Feb 2012. We changed into good clothes, and at around 1230ish headed outwards. Sula Winery is not situated within the city, my dear friends, it is situated nearly 25 kms from the railway station. The only mode of transport one has to either bring their own vehicles or take an auto rickshaw. The rickshaw drivers also know that this is their time to drench money out of middle class, and charge you nothing less that Rs.250- 300 for one way.
Frankly, the landscape to Sula, is nothing flattering either, that too at scorching 1230! But that is not what i am complaining about. The sully begins now. On reaching the winery, we were given a Yellow band that got tied on our hands, and a shoddy pamphlet which had a break up of the event. The first shock came on reading the pamphlet, which said-
Grape Stomping – 20 minutes- Rs. 250
Wine Touring – Rs 200
Wine Tasting – Rs 200
We were like… wait a minute, what did we pay Rs. 1800 for?? A little flushed we entered the fest, got ourselves Sula stamps and were asked to keep the bands on for two days.
On entering, we saw a huge lawn dotted with stalls of food lined on one side while the rest of the space was occupied by stalls of different liquor brands, out of which there was some high end brand of Rum( Mount Gay), 2 counters of Sula, 1 more stall of Cointreu, and the most crowded Asahi BEERS!!! Believe it or not, the highest selling liquor was definitely BEER. And this is why it happened.
Despite for whatever Sula had charged us for, on entering we realized nothing here is free… I went to the Sula counter and requested a glass of wine… i was told it is Rs. 150/ glass (150ml), be it any wine…then i was directed towards the coupon counter that had coupons only of Rs. 500 or 1000. I bought the smaller denomination and headed back to the stall, desperate to quench my thirst with wine, and lo & behold… i got my wine , in a PLASTIC GLASS!!!!!!
My heart broke and died a million times, i had tears in my eyes, as i saw the bubbles of the white wine, crushing churning, crying out aloud for the sheer humiliation it had just met. I apologized to her, and slowly took a sip. From there on wards, i had nothing to look forward anymore. Sure there was a stage in center with huge speakers, and a DJ playing some trance, sure there were people in bare nakedness lying , sun bathing under the yellow sula umbrellas, but i had not come to either gawk or sun bathe! Being an Indian, i get plenty of that anyways… i had come for the wine, the most precious almost cosmic experience of wine! But , i think i was expecting too much, or let me put it this way, i was expecting some VALUE from a festival of Wine Makers… and in return what i got to see is a sight, where people were crowding next to the beer counter, which was offering 300ml for the same price as a wine glass, happy just to get sloshed!
I still had some hopes left ( i do not know why?? ), and decided to stay on till the evening, as the crowd thickened, the music started thumping, my ears were strained to listen to reggae music, i heard Bob Dylan singing about struggle of people, while the rich crass drunk crowd at Sula Fest, gyrated/ danced away to glory, without realizing the meaning of the lyrics. Sheer delight???
At around 6, we decided to take a walk around to see the other activities offered, and honestly i didn’t believe my eyes when i saw it…
there were two wooden barrels, and people standing in it, not stomping the grapes, but posing to get their pictures clicked… as soon as that was over, so were your 250 rupees, they went and stood next to a 5 feet dummy wine bottle to get clicked … again!
There was no one, other than the bar tenders to talk to about the wines. The so called wine tasting activity, offered you to taste 4 different types of Sula wine, i am guessing it must be 50 ml each… otherwise how would they mint their money?
And, with that, that was it! There was nothing more. At all.
We didn’t bother going the next day.
If you read, by any chance good reviews about the Sula Wine Fest, it is a farce, we saw journalists, writers there, getting free wines/ food at the event. What i write here, is from a purely user experience. The value i got was ZILCH, my experience was HORRIFIC… heck i would have rather payed 4 grands, gone to Blue Frog, heard Nitin Sawhney and order a bottle of the most expensive wine…why would i even chose Sula then???
In conclusion, and directed to the organizers again, conducting an event like Sula Wine Festival, is nothing but a money making gimmick, aimed at a dumb rich audience, who cares a fuck about wine, let go the art of tasting one. Your fest has brutally raped the essence of wine tasting, a crime i will always hold you and the brand Sula guilty for. Up till now i was appreciative of Sula for nourishing an Indian wine brand, but with this kind of shit event, you have fallen from my eyes for under estimating the Indian audience as nothing but dumb uneducated crass, who would take any bull shit you give us in the name of a Wine Fest!