“Cheers” to State Wineries
The introduction of the new Karnataka Grape Wine Policy 2008-09 has opened a range of opportunities to wine farmers. Presently 8 lakh litres production per annum is likely to multifold to 2.5 crore litres over the next five years. Grapes are being grown in an area of 9,700 hectares and the estimated production is about 1.67 lakh tons.
Earlier the produce was sold in the local market as fresh fruits and a small quantity is sold as raisins. There was a disadvantage of grapes getting spoilt very fast, owing to farmers economic losses. Grape cultivation requires huge initial investment. The pressure to keep up the high quality has put farmers constantly over the edge.
All this would be challenged due to production of wine. Now grape growers have assured profits due to demand for wineries. In Karnataka the climatic conditions are best suited for production of grapes suited for wine making. There is a good demand in both local and international market.
Karnataka is all set to promote wine tourism. One can stroll through the picturesque landscape of vineyards and take part in the process of making wine. Not to mention that they can carry some fresh wine and special memories with them.We can come across such tours in Napa Valley, California and New Zealand, Melbourne, Bordeaux (France), Cape Town and Florence.
In the state, horticulture department has recognized the grape-growing districts of Bangalore (Urban and Rural) and Kolar, called Nandi Valley and those of Bijapur, Bagalkot and Belgaum known as the Krishna Valley. This is in view that the serene Valley will be of more prominence since it is close to tourist hot spots like Goa, and the heritage centres like Bijapur and Belgaum.
Government aims at increasing grape cultivation, and encourages more wineries. Wine-production units will be declared as food processing industry and extend necessary concessions. Further, the license-issuing procedure will be relaxed — no longer will winery owners run to the excise department for licenses, instead they can obtain the same from respective deputy commissioners, within 30 days of submitting an application.
Some of the main features of the Policy announced in 2008 are:
- Licence fee reduction from Rs. 10,000 to Rs.1000
- Amendments to the Act increase accessibility and availability of wines in all malls and retail outlets.
- Annual license fee for wineries reduced from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 5000
- Fee for opening wine taverns fixed at Rs. 1000 per annum.
- Bottling license fee reduced to Rs.1000 from Rs.25,000
- Wine produced in state to be spared of any other fee
- Permission given to consumers to retain upto 9 litres
In Karnataka, more than 12 varieties of grapes are used for making Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir, Merlot, Pinnotage, Shiraz, Zinfadel, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and others are being cultivated by farmers who have contracts with the wineries. These varieties are mostly grown in Bijapur, Belgaum, Koppal, Bagalkot, Bangalore Rural and Urban, Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts.
By providing proper impetus to the wine production and marketing, it is possible for the farmers to get good remuneration to their produce. Risk and uncertainties are minimized owing to the grape production with wine processing. Government need to educate our farmers on the international standards and demands in grape cultivation and brewing good wines suitable to the demands all over the world.
To attain these goals, Grape Processing Industries Board will be set up, will have the representatives from the Grape Processing Industries, Grape Growers, State Government, Government Laboratories and Wine Companies. This Board will be functioning under the purview of the Department of Horticulture.
Wine Parks : To facilitate wine production and its related activities, Wine Parks will be established with infrastructural facilities to promote grape cultivation and wineries.
Wineries in Karnataka :
The Indian wine industry is peaking on a new high at a growth of 25 percent every year opening a range of wineries, foreign liquor companies and private equity firms and over enthusiastic entrepreneurs has set new insights for the upcoming industry.
The Bijapur Region, located in northern Karnataka (538 mts above sea level) -approximately 600 km from Bangalore (1000 mts above sea level), is ideally suited for growing Horticulture crops. Bijapur -Bagalkot belt had been identified as the target area for implementing the new wine policy.
Impact on Maharashtra
The new policy on Grape Wine in Karnataka is likely to affect the present leader in the wine makers, Maharashtra. Goa and Maharashtra are the only two state that are into Wineries in the country. There are more than 51 wineries in Maharashtra located mostly in the Nashik and Sangli areas.
The wine cultivation incentives, easy accessibility for license and reduction of the license fee to promote wineries and grape cultivation in the Karnataka will prove to be tough competition for the counter parts in Maharashtra. Karnataka policy will also have to look into the new excise rule, duty taxes that raises the price of wines.