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From Databases to Wine – The story of Rajeev Samant

August 31, 2009

We’ve all heard stories where someone leaves their job in a big multinational, to pursue his / her dream. One such person, who left his career to pursue something which he wanted is the CEO of now famous Sula Vines, Mr. Rajeev Samant.  He left his job as a manager with Oracle and came down to India. He tried his hand at farming, on some land which his father owned, at Nasik. This experience lead to the realization that the land and the climate of Nasik was immensely suitable for growing Grapes. A little research quickly showed that the Nasik climate was not only perfect for wine grapes, but was also on par with wine growing regions in Spain, California, and Australia. His determination doubled, Rajeev returned to California in search of a winemaker. In Sonoma County he found Kerry Damskey, an eminent Californian winemaker, who enthusiastically agreed to help start a winery on Rajeev’s 30 acre family estate.

In 1997 the first step was taken, the duo of Rajeev and Kerry planted French and Californian varieties. Now this was a first in India and history was in the making!

The first Sula’s released in India in 2000 were hailed as the best white wines in the country. Since its inception, Sula has rapidly established itself as India’s leading premium wine brand, helping spark a wine revolution that has seen consumption grow at 25% annually and several new wineries come up in the Nasik area. So much so that in November 2002, Wine Spectator – the world’s No.1 wine magazine – did a five-page feature on Sula, a proud first for an Indian winery!

Despite a great deal of initial resistance – the wine business in India was practically nonexistent, and getting a winery license was difficult – Rajeev’s dream to craft good wine in India has quickly become a reality. In fact this has sparked a wine revolution with wine being available on the shelves of many departmental stores these days.

In a way, Rajeev Samant has become the face of this Wine Revolution taking the country by storm, a guy form Oracle who could have decided to stick with his regular job and made a tidy sum of money there as well, is now doing what he was passionate about and changing the face of the Liquor industry in India, doing something which was almost unheard of about 10 years ago.

A small idea has changed the drinking habits of an entire nation. Wine, which was thought to be the drink of the rich and elite, is available to anyone who wishes to buy it. An ideal example of what passion can do and why you should follow your heart!

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