December 17, 2018
THE SULA STORY
Sula, Vineyards, Nashik, Wines, India
Although Rajeev Samant’s introduction to wines took place during his early years studying at Stanford University and working at Oracle in California, neither grapes nor wine were at the top of his mind when he returned to India in the early 90s. A chance visit to his family’s land in Nasik – a region well-known for growing table grapes – in 1994 led to the seed of an idea, and before he knew it, he began pursuing the idea of growing wine grapes in in Nashik. His curiosity piqued, Samant spent three months at a small winery in California that belonged to his friend and mentor – and now Sula’s Master Winemaker – Kerry Damskey. Working on the frontlines of wine production gave him an inside look into the world of wines and what it would take to setup a successful business.
In 1999, Rajeev Samant established Sula Vineyards, Nashik’s first winery and paved the way for the emergence of India’s Wine Capital, with almost 35 other wineries following suit in the region over the next decade. The name “Sula” came from his mother’s name – “Sulabha” – and symbolized the rich, Indian heritage of his wines. This was a wine that took pride in being Indian, being the first company in the country to use an Indian logo. Today, Sula is India’s leading wine company and is leading the charge of Indian wine across the wine world.
Deeply influenced by his travels and his personal values, Rajeev Samant firmly believes in being a steward of the land and in sustainable business practices. Under his guidance, Sula is one of the most eco-friendly companies in India, with a significant amount of its resources committed to sustainable winemaking practices and ensuring fair livelihoods for Sula’s community of farmers across Maharashtra and Karnataka. A large number of Sula’s workers come from disadvantaged communities and have seen a significant change in their standard of living through their employment with the company; this has been nothing short of a revolution in the surrounding villages.
Samant is also a leading advocate for India’s wine industry and is actively sought out to represent the interests of India’s wine producers and farmers to national and state Governments.