Magic is an overworked term. Eating burgers magical, almost everything on insta is magical, having a coffee with a friend is magical. But anyway, let me not push the boundary and go with magical this once.
Soma Vineyard is owned by Darby Raju and Aruna. Raju is the kite and Aruna is the nail in the ground that keeps it tied. Raju is flamboyant, a mine of information and a great host – someone you could be highfiving and hugging within an hour of meeting. Great respect for the work he is doing at Soma. Aruna is the silent force at work. We reached mid-afternoon and Aruna offered us home cooked chawal and shambhar. And, that’s a greeting that you don’t expect in a vineyard.
However, before the greetings what awes you is the drive through the vineyards, the winding dirt road and then the view of the hills, lake and the vineyard just as you climb the uneven grounds to reach the house. You see rows and rows of vines and coconut trees. I am no grape expert but the coconut trees stuck me as odd. Raju later confirmed that this is the only vineyard where grapes and coconuts hang out together.
We walked through the vines, the shiraz was still not harvested as they were aiming for a higher sugar content this year, somewhere around 27 brix which is a little higher than normal of 24 or thereabouts. Apart from the beauty of seeing those dark beauties on the vines, I may have touched and violated a few. I ate 3-4 grapes, or may be, 6. No more.
The manager of the property Mr. Roshan is a unique sort of sweet, professional, deferent and very shiraz. He would gently suggest taking a photo for you, to poke head out of the vines and more without moving an inch away from his Jeeves styled gentlemanliness, without his menace.
Anyway, we stopped at three different places in the vineyard to taste three wines – a white, a rose and a red. The first by the poolside, the second by the house while we watched the sunset, the third on top of the winery. Each one was paired with food cooked by Aruna or under her supervision. She also cooked special food for a vegan on the tour. Anyway, they only produce limited bottles and laying hand on one is hard but if you can, get a white one. It is one of the best whites I ever had.
We probably fell in love with Soma all the more because it is built on the same philosophy as Forktales. Word of mouth, get only select guests and relentlessly work at staying honest to the product. Another group had booked that day and he almost cancelled us fearing that we would feel left out. Thankfully, he did not and we met interesting people including an Iyengar yoga practitioner and vegan food promoter that you should hear more about soon. We also realised how people doing good work are so full of self-doubt while the morons paste their faces everywhere. I wish her to host her first pop up real soon.
A special word for the winemaker from France, don’t tag or mention names unless necessary. But people are free to tag themselves. So, we met him and started talking about everything on earth. The next evening, in a city where we almost didn’t know anyone, we bump into him in Brigade Road. Take my word – nothing forges friendships like getting drunk together and talking about love and meaning of life.
We talked, lazed, stared at the sky and the lake, sipped on wine and gorged on food, matched the rose with the color of the setting sun. Then the sun went down, we turned the lights off, it was a night before the full moon of holi. We made jokes, we made friends and we made a promise to ourselves to come back.
In the meanwhile, my application for the job of compost maker is lying on Raju’s desk.