• Vallonne Vineyards – Nashik

    Vallonne Vineyards – Nashik

    The last stop on wine tour was Vallonne Vineyards. The boutique winery lies on the gentle slopes of the Sahyadri mountain ranges and the Mukhne Lake overlooking the Kavnai Peak, making it an ideal place for vineyards.

    Vineyards on Slope

    With their wine making techniques and state-of-the-art technology their wines include Malbec, Rose, Vin De Passerillage and Anokhee Cabernet Sauvignon which are unique offerings in the Indian wine market.

    Wine Educator Chetan

    Enthusiastic Chetan, their wine executive, with his wonderful  knowledge was the tour guide & expert who then took us through their wine processing production line to their  fascinating barrel ageing cellar where the  temperature is regulated. The filling of nitrogen in bottle to using nitrogen dry ice in the case of white wine at the beginning. Well every bit was useful input during the tour

    Barrel Cellar

    The tasting of the wine was uniquely held & included:
    Vallonne Riesling
    Vallonne Viognier Reserve Collection
    Vallonne Rose Cab Sauvignon
    Vallonne Merlot Reserve
    Vallonne Vin de Passerillage ( Dessert wine)

    The Tasting Line up

    Must say thier limited release Vin de Passerillage ( Dessert wine) which reminded me of the ice wine was a luscious treat. This one is produced in small quantities from the good handpicked grapes, sun-dried to ensure the highest concentration of aromas and sugars. The rich, deep golden wine has a wonderful complex nose nostalgic with hints of honey, vanilla, melons, citrus and apricot which said to pair perfect
    with rich chocolate, fruit tarts, dried fruits, ice creams and cheeses.

    Cheers Chetan

  • Grover Zampa Vineyards – Nashik

    Grover Zampa Vineyards – Nashik

    Was excited & looking forward to  visit this winery which is know for some of its’ finest wines. However, was a bit disappointed as their winery was under revamping.

    With Wine Educator Shushant

    Nonetheless Wine Coñnoisseur & Educator Shushant was gracious to invite us for the tour and tasting.  He was so welcoming and gave us the insight to their wine making process.


    The Vineyards of Tempranillo, Granache, Viognier  and Syrah were so enticing.

    Wine Storage in Concrete Tanks and Maturation in French Oak Barrels

    He talked about the terroir and how it is so conducive to the grape varietals, to pruning process, harvesting, grape selection, pressing technique to preserve the freshness and maintain the softness of the wine, fermentation, filtering, storing in stainless steel & cement tanks imported from Italy, New Oak Barrels aging, bottling & packaging. He talked about Michel Rolland the French Oenologist & Mathias Pellissard Viticultureist who are instrmental in bringing their expertise to their vineyards.

    Barrel Cellar

    The Barrel Cellar to Packaging was perfectly explained.

    Packaging Wine Bottles

    Their collection includes Insignia, Chene, Auriga, Vijay Amritraj, Soiree, La reserve, Art collection depicting paintings by renowned artists on the label, Zampa & more.
    The wine varieties tasted & analysed were:
    Grover Sauvignon Blanc
    Grover Rose
    Grover Cabernet Shiraz
    Grover La Reserve 
    Grover Chenin Blanc

    Tasting Table

    Their La reserve was power packed with delicious black fruits, hint of spice. In the palate dark creamy intense  chocolate, roasted beans, vanilla& soft tannins with a good long finish.

    Had lots of fun & knowledge!
  • Soma Vine Village – Nashik

    Soma Vine Village – Nashik

    The next stop was the Somanda Vineyards. This Soma Vine Village with its lush green vineyards is at the entrance is a treat to the eye.

    Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard

    As we stepped in we were greeted by the smiling Sommelier Bhushan who introduced us and gave the boutique winery’s guided tour

    With Wine Educator Bhushan

    Apart from knowing their processes of making White, Red, Rose we also had the first hand knowledge of their Sparkling wines (method champanoise)

    Riddling process

    The process of making sparkling wines right form bottling the blend of wines, the secondary fermentation by adding little sugar and yeast to each bottle to get a second fermentation started. The bottle is then closed with a crown cap. The Yeast converts the added sugar into alcohol, and since the bottle is capped, the carbob dioxide thst is naturally produced is captured and remains in the wine as bubbles.

    After this secondary fermentation, sparkling bottles have to go through a laborious process called riddling. Over the course of several weeks , the bottles are slowly, gradually turned and lowered until they are upside down. The idea is to get the dead yeast into the neck of the bottle so that it can be removed. When they are ready to go the necks of the bottles are frozen and the crown cap is disgorged with the pressure that has built in the wine which pushes out the frozen yeast deposit. The bottle is topped off with some wine and sometimes sugar also known as dosage before being corked and sealed with ta wire cage.

    Disgorging the crown cap and corking the bottle after adding the dosage

    Finally, it was wine tasting session wherein the wines tasted & analysed were:
    Zinfandel Reserve -13.5%
    Reisling Reserve – 12.5%
    Sauvignon Blanc – Silver – 12.5%
    Chenin Blanc Gold – 12%
    Rose – 12%
    Zinfandel Rose Litchi – A seductive, blush pink wine carefully crafted from the zinfandel grapes. The sweetness is enriched with litchi Honey.

    Wine Tasting Session

    All in all the tour was absolutely amazing.

    Aroma Wheel

    Cheers Soma!

  • York A Boutique Winery – Nashik

    York A Boutique Winery – Nashik

    The next Winery was the York which was situated not far from Sula. After a good ride we reached this boutique winery which has a fabulous view of the Gangapur Dam & is such a serene & a perfect place. Got an opportunity to meet the owner Mr Ravi Guruani. Such a wonderful person. Had a good chat over some interesting knowledge on their array of wines

    York Winery

    Their flagship wines are Arros / Sparkling Cuvée/ Sparkling Rose / H Block
    Their premium wines include Chenin Blanc / Sauvignon Blanc / Cabernet Sauvignon /Shiraz /Cabernet Merlot / Late Harvest /Shiraz Viognier

    Grapes ready for destemming

    It was time to tour their  production area, ageing process & the young Mr Ganesh was the perfect Wine Executive who took me around as we explored their wine making process.

    With Ganesh the Wine Educator

    The Crushing area is where the grapes after destemming are brought and crushed to collect the grape juice which thereafter goes in fermentation tanks where yeast thereby converting it into the resultant products Alcohol, Co2 and heat.


    After crushing process we headed to the fermentation tank and pressing area and finally to the storage of wine in stainless steel tanks and maturation in oak barrels.

    Storage in Stainless Steel Tanks and Maturation in French Oak barrels

    The Wine Educator thereafter took us to the tasting table. The wines savoured & analysed were:
    York Sparkling Wine Cuvee – Blanc de Blancs 12%abv
    H Block Chardonnay
    York Rose – 12%
    York Arros – 14%
    York late harvest (Dessert Wine)

    The tasting session

    After 4S’ – seeing, swirling, sniffing, sipping – & getting the body, acidity, tannins & alcohol right including toasting the bubbly brut to the dessert wine it was time to adieu good bye.

    Must add that their York Arros, a reserve blend of Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon, was a nice wine. With its deep ruby colour, fading edge, aromatic & pleasant nose with sweetness and a hint of toasted oak coming off the blend of American and French oak, dark berries & plums & the sweet spices & on the palate dry with complex ripe red fruits & plums, oak, and sweet vanilla & balanced tannins & with long pleasing floral & fruity & spicy finish this was the icing on the cake.
    Cheers York Winery!

  • Sula Vineyards – Nashik

    Sula Vineyards – Nashik

    During my working years with the Indian Customs in Mumbai, I had set my mind to visit Wineries of Nashik. However, due to time constraint and work commitments I could not make it. Post my voluntary retirement, the first thing I decided was to fulfill this dream. So before I could set myself to a WSET Level 2 course in Wines, I decided to tour Nashik Wineries during the month of February 2020.

    At the Entrance

    Sula Vineyards -Nashik

    I started with Sula Vineyards located in the region of Nashik also called “India’s Napa Valley which was founded in the year 1998 by Rajeev Samant. Sula was named after his mother – Sulabha. Initially, the vineyards introduced grape varietals such as Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Riesling and Zinfandel. Thereafter, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, Grenache, Viognier were in!

    The Vineyards

    Sula conducts their wine tour on a regular basis and we could get the slot of 11.30 am to 12.30 pm. Since we were early and had a good 90 minutes, I decided to take the Vineyard tour. The entrance to the Sula Vineyard is magnificent which leads to some well manicured garden and par excellence architecture on the right and beautiful vineyards to the left. Apart from the amphitheater, they have stay facilities – The Source at Sula and Beyond by Sula. You come across the directions signpost with distance to many countries. A tour of their Wine shop which had an array of their products displayed with prices is a must visit to get a knowledge about their wines.

    The Wine Shop

    Some of the famous wines produced by them are:

    Red Wines: Rasa Shiraz, Rasa Cabernet Sauvignon, Dindori Reserve Shiraz, Sula Cabernet Shiraz, Sula Zinfandel, Satori Merlot Malbec, Mosaic Grenache Syrah, Dia Red,
    White Wines: Dindori Reserve Viognier, Sula Sauvignon blanc, Sula Chenin blanc, Sula Riesling, Sula Chenin blanc Reserve, Mosaic Chenin Sauvignon,
    Dia White, Rosé Wine, Sula Zinfandel Rosé, Mosaic Grenache Syrah Rosé
    Sparkling Wines: Sula Brut, Sula Brut Rosé, Sula Seco, Sula Seco Rosé ,

    The Wine Educator

    Finally around 11.30 am met Nidad the Wine Educator who then took us around explaining their journey from grape to  glass. The insight to their wine making process was well explained.

    The Oak Cellar

    Thoroughly enjoyed a personalized wine tasting at The Tasting Cellar where we tasted & analysed
    -Sparkling Wine – Brut Chardonnay
    -Sauvignon Blanc
    -Dindori Reserve Chardonnay
    -Rassa Syrah
    -Rassa Cabernet Sauvignon
    -Late Harvest Chenin Blanc

    Tasting Session

    It was a perfect wine tasting session starting from bubbly brut to the whites then the Reds & finally culminating to the dessert wine. 

    Cheers Sula!

  • Paul John Single Malt Whisky Distillery – Goa

    Paul John Single Malt Whisky Distillery – Goa

    When you hear about the beautiful state of Goa situated in the West Coast, it springs to the mind the sandy beaches, the palm trees, the Portuguese architecture, the luscious food and not to forget the feni. But also on the tourist map of Goa is now the legendary Paul John distillery India’s only Visitor Centre located in the village of Cuncolim, Goa.

    Paul John Single Malt -Goa

    Keeping my yearning to visit this distillery one day, I ventured through the beautiful hinterlands of Goan villages to finally reach this distillery in Cuncolim. As soon as you touch this place, you face the outstanding building akin to Portuguese style architecture. Was spellbound by the yellow facade, the ethnic Goan-Portuguese touch, the startling colors, the colonial furniture’s, the wall paintings reminiscing Mario  Miranda’s expressions , the décor etc.

    Visitor’s Centre

    Meeting the ‘Master’ Distiller Michael D’souza over some interactive chat followed by historic walkthrough by Pankaj into the world of Paul John Single Malts was a mesmerizing experience. Pankaj ensured that we get the first hand knowledge of the entire process of their single malt whisky production. Right from their use of six row barley. sourced from lands of Rajasthan. which has more protein that fastens conversion to fermentable sugars and responsible to the whisky’s intrinsic characteristics to the kilning process of drying the malted barley, milling & the preparation of the grist ratio was spot on described.

    Grist Ratio

    Further, the process of mashing in a mash tun to get the sweet liquid wort, the fermentation of wort into alcohol in a stainless steel vessel called the washback – all very fascinating.


    Got a strong whiff of brew while nosing the washback and the taste of distiller’s beer  – minus the hops.

    Distiller’s Beer

    Next, Pankaj showcased the shining copper pot stills and the distillation process.

    With Pankaj with the Copper Pot Stills on the background

    The whisky safe where the master distiller decides the cuts – foreshots (heads), hearts, feints (tails) which are responsible to the various compounds. Enjoyed the New Make Spirit Sip.

    Whisky Safe

    A magnificent painting right at the entrance of the underground cask cellar depicting angel’s share is eye catching. A good 8% goes as Angel’s share making Angel’s happy for sure.

    Angel’s Share Painting

    Getting  whiff the of the dram from a PX cask was heavenly.
    The underground cask cellar is a connoisseurs’ dream. Different Bourbon, Tennessee, Sherry, Pedro Ximenez, Porto casks and many others numbering anywhere between 3500 plus strategically positioned in the cellar in the process of undergoing maturation to be unveiled someday. Getting  whiff the of the dram from a PX cask was blissful.

    Maturation in Oak Barrels

    From bottling it was time to taste the beauties. A classic bar set up & an educational wooden setting with Glencairn sitting comfortably in the six wooden slots of Oaky Coasters.

    Tasting Room

    Pankaj with Single Malt expressions right in front of us posing several questions. Three expressions from select casks –  Edited, Bold, Peated come with well defined Peated flavours. Other expressions include Brilliance, Nirvana & Kanya with their soft and  mellow bouquets.  

    Pankaj the Spirit Educator

    After tasting regular ones,  he put forth some blind tastings. I did manage to give the best & came close to the X’mas  expressions and their XO Brandy. Felt elation of joy.

    Tasting Session

    No wonder the wall has myriad of awards displayed. Kudos to Paul John!


    Thankyou Paul John Single Malt

  • Robert Mondavi Winery Tour – Napa Valley – Oakville – California

    Robert Mondavi Winery Tour – Napa Valley

    The North Coast is home to the grape region and has put California wine on the world map. So when I visited the west coast of US, I made it a point to tour one of the winery and my brother Umesh Jadhav, residing in Sacramento, introduced me to the world-renowned Robert Mondavi Winery visitor center located in the heart of the Napa Valley.  We took their 90 minutes signature tour and tasting. This in-depth winery tour follows the path of the grape from the vineyard to the cellar to the finished wine.

    Robert Mondavi Winery – Napa Valley

    The stylish architecture with the bell tower and amazing archway gives the entrance a stunning look. As you look around, you come across several statues, paintings and other works of art giving the entire area a classic touch of elegance.

    The entrance

    Once you are in you have this wonderful looking garden with the Welcoming Muse sculptured by John Waddell. An ideal place to relax and taste wine is on the benches and stone walls near this main lawn.  

    Welcoming Muse by John Henry Waddell the famous Sculptor and Painter

    Here is where we meet our wine educator who then takes us through the signature tour and tasting. He shared an informative overview of the winery, it’s rich history and general information about the region.


    The vineyard looks breathtaking. We toured for a quick vineyard overview which was followed by a visit to the impressive fermentation room.

    Tour Educator

    The barrel aging room located below the tank room is a spell bounding sight. Mist released from ceiling and the lovely light creates a distinctive atmosphere in this massive barrel aging room. Two private tasting rooms anchor each side of this barrel room.


    Finally, we head to the tasting room which we were all looking forward to so eagerly. Here we tasted the Rose, Reds, Whites and the Sparkling Wine. We go through the much needed nuances of the wine tasting and different ways to appreciate the wine – Clarity, Color, Nose, Palate and Finish. So also well needed knowledge on pairing the wines with food was part of this tasting.

    Tasting Room

    The tour educator was such a gem of a guy full of knowledge and lively humour. A big thanks to him for such an educational tour.

    With the Sommelier

    The retail shop in the premises is filled with memorabilia and we did shop a couple of reds and whites and also picked up their dessert wine – Moscato D’oro.

    The Shop

    Overall it was a dream come true of having visited one of the famous Winery in Napa Valley.

  • New Glarus Brewery Company – Wisconsin

    New Glarus Brewery Company – Wisconsin

    While driving to Indiana alongwith my folks, Sudhir Shinde, my brother residing in Algonquin, decided to take us to Wisconsin which is famous for Glarus Brewery for production of world class hand crafted beers. Magnificent location. The entrance is amazingly beautiful. The Swiss chalet style building overlooks farm pastures and creates a nice vibe to drink beer and relax.

    New Glarus Brewing Co. Wisconsin

    For the New Glarus Brewing Company, “Only in Wisconsin” — its slogan — refers literally to the the decision to sell only in Wisconsin. It is the largest craft brewery in the state of Wisconsin. The brewery’s best-selling beer is named after the Holstein cows . The brewery founder is Deb Carey and her husband, Dan, co-owner and brewmaster.

    Tasting Room

    The brewery has the state of art technology and produces some fabulous beers – Spotted Cow, Two Women Lager, Moon Man Pale Ale, Wisconsin Belgian Red cherry ale, and Raspberry Tart fruit ale. None has an ABV of over 5 percent.

    Bottling Line

    There was an area called stairway to heaven which takes you to the top of the vats where the yeast does its work. It also has its traditional logo horse with a beer wagon.


    The old brew kettles were imported from Germany, and restored to production with stainless-steel linings and energy efficient heating elements.

    Copper Pot Kettle

    Overall, had a most fascinating time at New Glarus Brewery. The town is also known as Little Switzerland for it folksy appeal of town. Picked up a few memorablia from their gift shop offers which has several options available in clothing, hats, mugs, glasses etc.

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