BANGALORE: Gone are the days when wine was restricted to special occasions. It has in fact become the ‘contemporary beer’ of the common man today. Awareness, wine and food sessions and events like the International Wine Festival have opened consumers’ mind to the wonders of wine.
Organised by the Karnataka Wine Board, the festival aims at showcasing the potential of the state’s grape economy. Inaugurated on Friday by Minister for Horticulture S A Ravindrantha. Minister for Excise Renukacharya, Minister for Large and Medium industries Murugesh R Nirani, and Minister of Agriculture Umesh V Katti attended the function.
Fifty wineries are participating in the three-day festival — 11 from Karnataka, including John Distiller’s, Grover’s, Nine Hill and the latest entrant Alpine Wineries; 18 from Maharashtra including Sula and Grover’s; and ten international wineries such as Reveilo and Luca. Over the course of the festival, the mornings and afternoons will be dedicated to wine sessions and tasting, the evenings will be dedicated to unadulterated fun — grape stomping followed by performances by Euphoria, Swarathma and Attakkalari. Also on display are vintage cars and bikes for motor vehicle enthusiasts.
The event offers wineries and consumers an opportunity to meet and interact with each other. As for the farmers, it will provide an opportunity to interact with horticulturists at the four dedicated seminars planned. The seminar topics include Wine grape variety and rootstocks; Nutrition and irrigation management in grapes; Management of disease in wine grapes, and Viticulture practices in wine grapes and development of vineyard.
“Bangalore is the third largest consumer of wine in the country after Delhi and Mumbai, while Karnataka is the second largest producer of grapes with 3.20 lakh metric tonnes (33 per cent of India’s production) with the second largest area under cultivation at 17,500 hectares (15 per cent of total area),” Suresh Chandran, Managing Director, Karanataka Wine Board (KWB) said. He added that grape cultivation has grown from 300 acres to a whooping 2,000 acres. This in turn has lead to the launch of 12 new wineries and 180 wine taverns across the state. The industry is growing at 25 per cent annually and that the state has stalked out a plan to add another 3,000 acres to the existing cultivated land by 2015.
While the state is showing an impressive growth, the city is not far behind. T Raghavendra Gowda, managing director Alpine Wineries said that though the city is in it’s nascent stage of wine drinking, it is catching up. Gowda, launched his wines in the market officially at the festival. “Wine is healthier when compared to other spirits. I guess that is one of the main reasons that the drink has gained such importance,” he said. Sneha Rao from Big Banyan Wine said that exponential increase in wine drinkers over the last few years is partly due to their exposure to European countries, fine dinning and the government’s support. While Abhay Kewadkar, director, Four Seasons, said that the policies regarding wine boutiques and wine taverns helped the industry.