The Grape Escape: Darby N Raju

 Jaw dropping scenic views of the lush green vineyards, grape stomping, sipping on some of the finest tipples paired with cheese and farm to fork food. Visiting vineyards is a trend that’s fast catching up with not just the wine enthusiasts, but also those who want to indulge in novel experiences. Next time when you open a bottle of wine, you will know exactly how the vino managed to acquire that smooth flavour with just the right hint of fruits, spices or that deep hue. Decode the entire process of winemaking on your next trip to a winery. Here’s a roundup of all the popular wineries you can visit.
By Namita Gupta

Darby N Raju, founder, Soma Vineyards

Genie in a bottle: This is namma Bengaluru’s very own homegrown wine. The winery is located at the foothills of the Maakli Hills and is approximately 50 kms from the city centre. The 120 acres of lush green and picturesque Bangalore Soma Vineyards is always buzzing with wine enthusiasts who like to visit its slopes that reaches a lake with an underground winery. A lot of passion, responsible permaculture agro practices, single estate grapes which express the best from the picturesque lake fronted vineyard terroir is what you can expect from your visit here. Sri Lanka-based Paul Topping is Raju’s British partner who brings 20 years of travel retail experience to the table. The vineyards are uniquely combined with groves of coconut throughout the land currently under vine. The blocks of vines follow the contours of the rolling hills of the Maakli range preventing erosion of the red loamy soil and maximises exposure to the sun. Being an engineer, Raju knows the 35-metre difference in elevation that facilitates drip irrigation without the use of pumps.

Wine varietals: Bangalore Soma Sauvignon Blanc, Bangalore Soma Shiraz Solo, Bangalore Soma Shiraz reserve and Bangalore Soma Rosé.

Vineyard tours: A complete four hour immersive outdoor vineyard and wine and dine experiential tour will take you around the beautiful 100 acre lake fronted estate in the lap of nature. Standard wine tours priced at Rs 2,500 per person start at 3:30pm with a welcome drink followed by a vineyard and winery tour. As the sun sets, you can experience a tasting of three house wines across three lovely locations around the vineyard with owner DN Raju and finally settle down for a barbecue dinner and a glass of red wine. Tours end by 7:30pm. Pre-booking of wine tours is strictly advisable since no walk-ins are permitted.

Not just wine & cheese: Every booking is exclusive and customised, the wine tasting sessions are held outdoors right in the vineyards. Each wine is served with cheese, wafers and dip, olives, crackers etc with white wine followed by Rosé at sunset with vegetarian and non vegetarian starters and ending with red wine at dinner catered from the best chefs in town. Most of the wines under the bouquet of Soma Vineyards pair well with Indian cuisine like lamb, chicken, fish and paneer.

Where: Raju Estate Gundamgere Village, Bengaluru.

Call: +91 80235 15055 / +91 98454 28071.