SulaFest 2018 hit the right note, marking a new era progressing forward from its 11th edition.

It was a day of sheer excitement as the weekend hit and the journey to SulaFest 2018 began. The Sherps began their journey on 3rd February, Saturday, looking forward to a much awaited weekend and a return to the famed Sula Vineyards for the grand SulaFest. Brief stops along the way to refuel ourselves and a quick check in at the hotel (Express Inn) later, it was time to set foot into the 11th edition of SulaFest.

Reminiscent memories of the previous 1oth edition came flooding back as the Sherps were welcomed by the lull of music, the vibrant setting, happy people, the magnetic pull of the wine, and so much more. Making our way through the entrance from the box office, the Atmasphere Stage (Techno Stage) stood tall on the left, and eager ragers swayed to the infectious beats. As the Sherps progressed through the venue much caught the eye such as the appealing flea market, the selfie stations, the fun gaming area, the buzzing bar corners, the bustling food zones, the awesome Main Stage – the Amphitheater stage, wine by the gallons, and so much more. It was clear the weekend would soar to an all-time high!

Check out the day-wise & stage-wise lineup below:

The Sherps began Day 1 with a wine tasting session for the media where Kerry Damskey –  Director, Winemaking at Sula Vineyards, and Karan Vasani – Vice President, Winemaking at Sula Vineyards, took us through the history of Sula Wines, the growth of the brand into an international label, and the stacked barrels of world class wines that are being tasted all over the world. Some of the tasted wines included the early years’ Glinfindel, Grenache Rose, the Rasa Chiraz, and the newer wines – the Dindori Reserve (2016) and Cabernet Sauvignon (2016). Paired with the perfect companion of crackers and cheese, and some tender chicken to tickle our taste buds, the tasting session had us looking forward to more wine and frolic through the evening.

Little do we realize that wine is a fairly new introduction in India, and with the rising scale of Sula it only puts India on the global map as one of the competent winemakers in the world.

Sula Fest 2018 delivered on its promise of being India’s leading Gourmet World Music Festival, with an eclectic selection of over a 100 musicians, gourmet food spreads, amazing activities, finest selection of wines and other alcohol, interactive sessions, wine tastings, and so much more. Now in its 11th edition, it could be said that it’s the beginning of a bigger and better era of the SulaFest legacy.

What you must see if you haven’t been to Sula!

For over 1o years the Sula Vineyards have hosted India’s grandest Gourmet World Music Festival, and it is a sight to behold. People who are unknown to the history of Sula Wines must know that it was founded by Mr. Rajeev Samant who along with Californian winemaker, Kerry Damskey, created what is today one of the world’s leading producers of wine. The Sula Vineyards in Nashik are open for visitors throughout the year, and with the scenic aura and the sweet whiff of wine, the vineyards make for a perfect extended stay.

This year marked another very special edition of the festival as it set out on its post-decade journey, and here are some of the memories we will hold dear for time to come.

1. Stages

2 days, 2 stages, and over 30 world-class acts performing; SulaFest echoed with a range of mellifluous sounds between both its magnificent stages that had crowds in a decided frenzy upon choosing between the two. The Amphitheater Stage, also known as the Main Stage, was host to some of the greatest live acts and headliners on the planet. Parov Stelar, The Crystal Fighters,  Amit Trivedi, Bauchklang, and more absolutely lit the main stage up over the 2 days of the festival.

The Atmasphere Stage aka the Techno Stage was the raging puller for a number of techno and dance music enthusiasts. However, the Techno Stage did lack the packed crowds that would be expected for a techno lineup as good as this.

2. Performance Highlights

It could be said without a doubt that SulaFest does marvels in putting together some of the greatest and most unconventional acts year after year, and this year was no different. The 11th edition of SulaFest was headlined by Parov Stelar, and had The Crystal Fighters, Amit Trivedi, Bauchklang, Grain, Gypsy Hill, Brodha V, The Beat ft. Ranking Roger, and many more incredible acts who not only delivered stellar performances but also won the hearts of many attendees who weren’t accustomed to their music.

Day 1

The opening day of SulaFest 2018 will be remembered for aeons to come, as it set the perfect and high tone for the following closing day and inspired fixated smiles on the faces of people who thought they’d seen it all at SulaFest. The performances for the day included sets by Kiwistar, Run Pussy Run, Grain, Gypsy Hill, Parov Stelar, and Crystal Fighters at the Main Stage. The performances were a perfect crescendo with each set filling the Amphi Stage more and the people begging for more musical awesomeness from the artists before them.

On the Atmas Stage, Leon, 8 Bit Culprit, Berny, Stefano Richetta, and Bondi Live were on console duties, and they delivered in rocking fashion. The Atmas Stage lured even the most unaware techno/dance music enthusiast, as the stage beckoned attention with its resounding bass and the wandering lights under the psychedelic canopy.


Day 2

After a sensational Day 1 and a never-ending rhythmic thump in the back of our heads from the previous night, Day 2 welcomed the audiences with an elevated version of the previous day. The crowds quite visibly increased as there was high anticipation to catch Amit Trivedi at the festival. Where else could you be sipping on some wine and still listen to the best of Amit Trivedi’s hits?!

Taking over the main stage on Day 2, Kiwistar, Adil Manuel Collective, Brodha V, The Beat ft. Ranking Roger, Amit Trivedi, and Bauchklang, thrilled the audiences to say the least. Everything from Hip Hop to Reggae to Blues and Bollywood fused together at the main stage to make for one of the most exciting musical offerings in the country.

If you needed some pure Gangsta vibes and the hip-hop nostalgia, Brodha V had the right set for you. From freestyling and singing some of his own popular songs to getting the crowd to sing along to Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’, Brodha V sure amped the energy early on. The Beat ft. Ranking Roger’s performance inspired and awed the audience with the invigorating yet soothing fusion of jazz and reggae. It was a full house as Amit Trivedi came on with his entourage of supporting artists and literally lit up the stage with his performance. Streamers, smoke machines, fleeting gas balloons, pyro-technics, and the effervescent on-stage vibe, made his act one of the best highlights from SulaFest 2018.

On the Techno Stage, it was all about the progressive bass and trance as Tanvi, Sanjay Dutta, Jitter, Alex Ferrer, and Phonique, had the audience transfixed in a daze.

Apart from the main performing acts, the filler performances by the Krunk Reggae Party ensured that the audiences weren’t bored and still had some inspiring and good music to listen to in between sets.

3. Gourmet Bonanza

SulaFest is much more than just the wine and music. The festival is hailed as India’s leading Gourmet World Music Festival and rightfully so. Apart from the award-winning Sula Wines, Beluga, Hardys, Mud House, Kumala, Asahi, Cointreau, Highland Queen and Pitu Cachaca, added to the worldwide selection of the best wine offerings.

The tastes on the palate varied between Oriental, Mughlai, Indian and Italian cuisines and had some amazing food for the attendees to nibble on. The food zone near the main stage and the food trucks located at the Techno Stage served well in keeping the audiences well fed. A drawback however was that drinking water had to be bought at a steep price of INR 50 per 750ml bottle.

All transactions were to be made through exchange of coupons or by swiping the SulaFest RFID card, although some stalls even accepted cash.

4. SulaFest Bazaar

One of the most colourful and vibrant attractions at the SulaFest 2018 had to be the SulaFest Bazaar where folks could purchase some lovely trinkets, clothing items, books, shades, watches, crafts & artisans, and so much more. The selfie stations along the walkway also provided for some beautiful photos against a fabulous backdrop.

The Sula Wine shop had a generous number of people stocking themselves with Sula Wine to keep them buzzing through the days.

5. Camping

Some people witness SulaFest, and some live it! Such is the tale of the campers at SulaFest who head out to the camp site once the festival action dies down, only to continue more of the same there. The camping organised by Let’s Camp Out ensured a comfortable and adventurous stay to all its patrons. The camp site spirit was alive with tons of activities, bonfire nights, and more music!

6. Bringing the paparazzi

While SulaFest roped in residents from all over India and across the world, some of them included some famed personalities whom the shutterbugs just couldn’t miss at the festival. Shibani Kashyap, Siddharth of ‘Rang De Basanti’ fame, Sonali Sehgal of ‘Pyaar ka Punchnama’, Prahlad Kakkar, Suchitra Pillai, Kashmira Shah and Mansi Scott were some of the celebrities present at the festival.

7. Mentions

Safe to say, SulaFest 2018 rocked the show even in its 11th edition and has proved that the festival will always remain an integral part of the music festival scene in India.

Rajeev Samant, CEO & Founder of Sula Vineyards said, “What an incredible weekend! Fantastic to see the vineyards packed with fest-goers yet again. It is always such a delight to open our doors for SulaFest and seeing so many people having such a great time makes it all worthwhile! I am immensely grateful to all our partners and the artists for the part they play in SulaFest but of course it is the audience that makes it such a great experience. I am sure they have all gone away with more SulaFest memories just as I have.”

There was much to take away from SulaFest 2018 in terms of the experience. Be it the fun hands-on grape stomping sessions and games organised by Tinder or the wine tastings and vineyard tours that educated the public more about the process of making wine, SulaFest did well to awe its attendees.  On the note of management, the festival ensured that its patrons had a seamless experience.

Ken Pritchard, Senior Vice President, Marketing & International Sales, Sula Vineyards said, “What a great weekend! Another fabulous SulaFest which everyone enjoyed. A huge thank-you to all our sponsors and partners, we couldn’t do it without you! The ultimate measure of success is happy fest-goers and I saw many thousands of those over the 2 days. The second decade of SulaFest has arrived!”

The Sherp looks forward to many more editions of the SulaFest and rates the 11th edition a whopping 8/10!

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All image courtesy: SulaFest