Nagpur: “Water separates people of the world, wine unites them” said Rajesh Rasal, “passionate” wine maker, and one of the chief guests at the inauguration of the 4th wine festival organized by Nagpur Wine Lovers’ club at Woods, in C.P. club last night.
Other dignitaries of the wine world present for this exciting, annual event were Arjunsinh Mohite-Patil, M.D. of Fratelli Wines pvt. ltd. – the fastest growing wine company of India, Yatin Patil, the current President of the All India Wine Producers Association and Rajesh Borse, Secretary of the association.
Present on the dais was also Nagpur’s own Sharad Phadnis, Founder President of the Nagpur Wine Lovers club and the main person behind the wine festival which has become a major event for all Wine producers of India.
The inauguration ceremony was followed by some exciting fire shows displayed by members of Mix O flair, an institute for studies of beverage making started by Nikhil Deshpande, CEO in Nagpur.
There were also a number of Nagpur hospitality joints like Cilantro- for some lovely sea food, Bawa, for Parsee food, Chickhanz and TJ’s cafe serving hot ‘appetizers’ and main course also to go with wine.
Though foreign wines, notably French and Italian, are also available in India, this event is focused on the Indian Wine manufacturers to encourage the fast growing indigenous wine industry.
“Of the 90 or so wineries of India, 80% are situated in Maharashtra, and out of these maximum are in Nasik District.” Informed Arjunsinh Kolte Patil, a scion of the well known politician’s family of NCP and also M.D. of Fratelli. Fratelli, Arjun’s own company is in Solapur District though.”The other – 20% wine companies are in the Banglore area. So basically only two states produce wine in India. Selling wine all over the country is a difficult task with very high trade barriers. Since wines and spirits’ taxation is a state subject manufacturers selling outside their state are treated as ‘exporters’ and have to pay prohibitive Excise duty and sales tax in other states.”
What is more worrisome for the wine industry is that sales tax on wines is not going to be part of GST, so this high taxation and ‘export’ barriers will continue.
“Since maximum wine is grown in Maharashtra and wine is a 100% agri produce, as it is made from grapes, we hope the state government intervenes to make national distribution easier” was the hope expressed by many wine experts present.
Speaking on the occasion Sharad Phadnis said that there was huge scope for this industry in India, especially in our state. It is an industry growing at an annual rate of 25%.
Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Banglore – and now even Nagpur, can be counted as major cities where wine is consumed.
“There are less about 90 manufacturers in India, whereas China has 800 wineries – though weather in large parts of China is not suitable for growing grapes. An advanced country like France, which is the leading wine maker of the world, has over 14,000 wineries!
Yet, our industry has come a far away in the last 2 decades. Wines made by companies like Sula, Grover Zampa and Fratelli have won many international awards and are on par with the better wines of the world” said Sharad.
The Nagpur wine lovers club under Sharad’s stewardship is educating Nagurians on the benefits of responsible wine consumption which can have health benefits unlike consumption of hard liquor which is harmful. The reason is simple – hard liquor is chemically distilled alcohol while wine is grape juice fermented. Red wine is grape wine with skin while white wine is without skin, that is why the difference in colour and also why red wine is considered healthiest.
All this information is imparted and people educated about wine drinking as an activity of the club. Membership of Nagpur Wine lovers Club has grown from the initial 11 members to 214.
Life membership is available for Rs. 15,000 for men and Rs. 11,000 for ladies.
The wine festival is open till tonight, i.e. Sunday the 4th.