All rosé: Wine tourism in high spirits again

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October 17, 2021 3:30 AM

While foreign tourists may perhaps take some time to begin visiting the vineyards in Nashik, tourists from Pune, Mumbai and Gujarat have already begun thronging the vineyards in Nashik again.

Verdin said the company is working on new offerings, which should soon be in the market.Verdin said the company is working on new offerings, which should soon be in the market.

Sara Pink from the British High Commission, Delhi, is perhaps the only foreign tourist to have visited Nashik’s vineyards post the Covid lockdown. Pleasantly surprised by the quality of wines available in this small town, she has promised to introduce Indian wines to Britishers and persuade British tourists to visit Nashik’s wineries as she heads back home after a long assignment in India.

While foreign tourists may perhaps take some time to begin visiting the vineyards in Nashik, tourists from Pune, Mumbai and Gujarat have already begun thronging the vineyards in Nashik again.

The footfalls have been encouraging, with over 1,000 tourists visiting the vineyards on weekdays and over 3,000 tourists trying out the wines on weekends, Jagdish Holkar, president, All India Wine Producers Association (AIWPA), told FE. “People have been longing to get out in the open after being confined to their homes for over one and half years. There is no better way to enjoy the freedom of being out in the open than being in vineyards,” he said.

Wineries in Nashik have been shut for almost the entire period when restrictions were in place and are now looking forward to a great festive season ahead. Hotels, small resorts and resorts on vineyards are reporting more than 98% occupancy during the week and 100% occupancy on weekends.

Monit Dhavale, senior vice-president (hospitality) at Sula Vineyards, said wine tourism in Nashik has picked up as people are looking to unwind after a long spell of restrictions. “Post the second wave, our resort has reported over 90% occupancies on an average and on weekends, the occupancy rate of 100%,” he said.

The tourists are mostly from Mumbai, Pune, Surat and Indore, all of which are a four-hour drive from Nashik. Sula has a wine tasting room, villas and a resort, while neighbouring York Wines has a tasting room and a resort. Other wineries with tasting rooms include Grover Zampa and Soma. Wineries like Vallonnie, Renaissance and Good Drops also draw tourists in large numbers. Nashik has 48 licensed wineries and around 35 of these are operational.

Ashwin Rodrigues of Good Drop Wine Cellars says wineries have faced tough times and are now are having a good season with tourists coming back. His winery recently launched the Frizzano Italian collection consisting of a variety of wines. “There have been very few launches and the wineries are focused on consolidating business. There is a long road ahead,” he, however, added.

Yatin Patil, former president of AIWPA, pointed out that business from long-stay tourists has been encouraging. Since work from home is still being encouraged and schooling is still online, many families have preferred to spend long periods in the city amid the vineyards, he said. Holkar has ambitious plans for the wineries. The association is planning to hold the Grape Harvest Festival in 20 cities at the same time later this year so that more cities become aware of the wines made at Nashik. If this works, we may see more tourists coming from other states as well, he said.

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