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'Maharashtra's grape wine industry has bright future ahead'

Q&A/ Jaideep Kale

Tushar Pawar  |  Mumbai/ Nashik 

The grape wine industry in Maharashtra, particularly in Nashik and Sangli districts, has registered tremendous growth in the last few years.
The has nominated the as the nodal agency for establishment grape wine parks.
Business Standard spoke to Jaideep Kale, technical coordinator, Grape Wine Park, MIDC, on the current scenario in the wine industry and what future the state's wine industry has in the next few years.
What are the growth prospects of the wine industry in Maharashtra in the next few years?
The Central government is planning to include wine in food. Such a move will give a huge boost to the wine industry.
Today, though grape wine consumption is low, awareness regarding grape wine is being created through various government efforts.
Hence, wine consumption growth, which was 20 per cent during 2000-2004, has increased to 30-40 per cent in 2005. The wine industry in Maharashtra definitely has a very bright future in the next few years.
What is the current scenario?
There were only four wineries in Maharashtra before the state government announced the
Today, there are 46 wineries in India, out of which 43 are in Maharashtra "" 22 in Nashik, eight each in Sangli and Pune, three in Solarpur and one each in Usmanabad and Buldhana districts.
Currently, total grape wine production in India is 1.04 crore litres, of which 94.79 lakh litres is produced in Maharashtra. The total investment in wineries in the state stands at Rs 160.31 crore.
What is MIDC doing to promote wineries?
MIDC has decided to set up wine parks in six districts "" Nashik, Sangli, Pune, Solapur, Ahmednagar and Satara.
Accordingly, it has initially developed 'Godavari Wine Park' at Vinchur in Nashik district and 'Krishna Wine Park' at Palus in Sangli district. The main role of MIDC is to provide infrastructure facilities like better internal roads, water supply, effluent treatment plant, quality control and analytical laboratory, power, telecom, post office, bank facilities and the mother unit.
Large capital investment is needed if one has to set up a winery at one's farm. But, the same winery requires much less investment if it is set up at the wine park. The main objective behind developing wine parks is to provide the smallest farmer an opportunity to set up his own winery.
What is the current yield of grapes in Maharashtra and is it enough?
Today, around 3,000 acres are under cultivation of different grape varieties in the state. Every year, the area under grape cultivation is increasing by around 300 acres to meet the demand of new wine units coming up in the state. The way acreage is expanding, grape production today is enough for all the wine producers.
Where does India stand in terms of wine consumption?
Wine consumption in countries like France and Italy is 60 to 70 litres per person per year, 25 litres in USA, 20 litres in Australia and 4 litres in China.
But wine consumption in India is literally a sip, 4 to 5 ml per person per year. But there is no cause for alarm. Our wine industry has wide scope to grow if we considered our population.
Most of the wineries are in Nashik district. Yet, there is no wine institute there.
We have just signed an MoU with Italy's Enotica Regionale for providing necessary technical expertise to undertake research and development, training and transferring know how. We are planning to set up a wine institute at Nashik in joint venture with the government of Italy.
Where do the wineries in Maharashtra stand in terms of quality?
The quality of wine depends on the quality of grapes produced. The micro-climate, land and water in Maharashtra are most favourable for grape cultivation. Hence, the wine produced here will definitely be of good quality if we produce good quality wine grapes.
What is the wine production and wine export scenario in the state?
Our wine industry is new and exports are very small. The countries to which we want to export our wine have been producing wine for the last 300 years and those countries which do not produce wine but consume a lot, procure wine. Why should they prefer Indian wines? Nevertheless, there are 6,000 Indian hotels in Europe and these hotels are waiting for Indian wine. So, our exports can increase a lot if our wineries initially concentrate on these Indian hotels.
What incentives is the state government providing to the wineries?
The government has excluded the wine industry from excise duty. Earlier, one was not allowed to sell wine without a distributor. But now wine producers can sell directly to permit rooms and beer bars. The state government has also increased the impost on wine coming in from Rs 50 per litre to Rs 200 per litre.

First Published: Wed, December 13 2006. 00:00 IST