Last night, Sula Vineyards celebrated 15 years of domestic bliss. This homegrown Indian wine label has pipped many a global grape to the post when it comes to taste, accessibility and price points. CEO Rajeev Samant has been the consummate entrepreneur right from the beginning, from when he identified the opportunity for domestic wine growing, to putting his Sauvignon Blanc on some of the world’s best tables (they’ve been exporting regularly and recently celebrated five years of being a big hit in Belgium).
I first met Rajeev in 1999, when I was covering those lovely Sula e-Tuesday evenings at Rahul Akerkar’s Indigo in Colaba for the Bombay Times. Even then he had the foresight of bringing together venture capitalists and tech guys over wine to create some powerful pairings.
Over the years, I’ve interviewed him often and followed his trajectory of success quite keenly. Because I think he’s wild and wacky and a bright, ideas guy. And well, because I REALLY like Sula wine 😉 I’ve enjoyed visits to the vineyard in Nashik, spending long and languorous afternoons on that familiar terrace where the molten gold in the glass is reflected in the golden sunset.
I’ve always associated Sula wines with good times. And last night’s party to celebrate 15 years of the brand only reinforced that association. Floral headbands and corsages greeted guests at the entrance of Asilo, on the 40th floor of St Regis in Mumbai. The city’s best and brightest mingled happily as the live jazz ensemble set a cheery tone.
The buzz was that Rajeev had a surprise up his sleeve and everyone was curious to know what was going to be unveiled. There were some warm and emotional moments where Rajeev spoke about the birth of Sula, introduced us to his inspiration… his parents and school teacher from his Cathedral days. Post that, we were finally privy to another proud moment for him. It was the introduction of a new label of bubbly — the Sula Brut Tropicale!
The pink bubbly premium black grape Tropicale is a limited edition sparkling brut rose, which can be acquired at Rs 1050 a pop in Mumbai. Quite as expected from the name and the colourful bottle, it was fruity and refreshing. As Rajeev said while introducing it to us, it’s the perfect celebratory cheer for the upcoming festive season. And just right to make a muggy night in Mumbai magical too, I found.