Karnataka is India’s second largest producer of grapes. The state cultivates different varieties of the fruit. It has prominent grape growing regions like Nandi Valley, Cauvery Valley and Krishna Valley. The climate of the state is also conducive for grape cultivation. As such, the state has several vineyards and enjoys a healthy production of high quality grapes every year.
History of Grape Cultivation in Karnataka
The initiation of grape cultivation in the state can be traced back to the 18th century. At that time, the erstwhile Nizam of Hyderabad brought the fruity variety and introduced it in the state, particularly in the northern districts of Belgaum, Bidar, Bagalkote, Bijapur and Gulbarga. Later, in the 19th century, the Christian missionaries popularized it in the southern districts of the state. Due to the favorable agro-climatic conditions it yielded good results and the cultivation of the fruit flourished in the state.
The Growth of Wineries in Karnataka
Karnataka has around 9,700 hectares of land under grape cultivation. The annual production of the fruit is about 1.67 lakh tones. Apart from the above mentioned valleys, there is extensive cultivation of the crop in Mysore, Koppal and Chikmagalur districts. The state government is extending various kinds of support for the establishment of new wineries and the production of grape-wine in the state. The government wants to produce high quality wine that can be exported to the international market.
Three major varieties of grapes are grown in the state, namely – Thomson seedless, Anab-E-Shahi Dilkush and Bangalore Blue. Grape is a capital intensive crop. It requires a lot of effort, hard work and investment to produce high quality grapes. As wine is an important value product of grape, the government is extending opportunities for the promotion and growth of wineries in the state. The government is encouraging traditional farmers to switch over to cultivation of grapes and reap high returns. Even entrepreneurs and foreign wine-makers are being encouraged to set up wine processing units across the state.
Wine grapes are grown once in a year. The farmers of the state are aware of the benefits of growing this cash crop. The main advantage is that while fruity variety is easily perishable, the wine grape is not. Moreover, the fruity variety is also open to competition from its counterparts in the other states. Hence, a large number of farmers have taken to cultivating wine grapes. This has boosted the cause of wineries in the state.
Today the state has a number of wineries that produce excellent quality of grape-wine. Several new wineries are coming up in the state with latest technology and machineries to produce wine that can be exported to the international market. The “Karnataka Grape processing and Wine Policy -2007” is making the process of establishing new wineries a hassle-free matter. The wineries in Karnataka are producing high quality wines and establishing their brands in the consumer market.
Karnataka Wine Board
The Karnataka Wine Board is a registered body that was established in the year 2007 under the Karnataka Societies registration Act 1960. It was created to address the problems of grape growers of Karnataka. The board helps in the process of establishment of new wineries in the state. It is actively involved in the cause of promoting the wineries and the wine produced in the state. The Board creates consumer awareness through organizing festivals, seminars and wine tasting sessions.
Due to the efforts of the board and the quality of the crops produced in the state, several international wineries from Switzerland, New Zealand, France and Australia are showing interest in sourcing grapes from Karnataka for producing wines in their own units.
According to the data provided by the board, there are 17 wineries in the state today. There are 190 wine taverns and 39 wine boutiques that cater to the demand of the consumers. With the support and facilities extended by the government and the board, this number is sure to increase at a steady rate.