The lockdown is not expected to affect wine production in Maharashtra, a key growing region, as farmers and wineries have coordinated with the State government to ensure that the grapes from the vineyards reach factories for crushing.
“Out of 100 wineries in India, 75 are in Maharashtra; Nashik district has about 45 wineries,” Rajesh Borse, Secretary, All India Wine Producers Association (AIWPA), told BusinessLine. “On an average, 2 crore litres of wine is produced every year, of which 1.20 crore litres is produced in Nashik. We are hopeful that the ongoing crisis will not affect wine production, as we have reached almost all the grapes to the factories for crushing.”
Borse said that immediately after the lockdown was announced the association coordinated with State officials, district administration and farmers’ organisations to ensure the smooth transport of grapes from field to factories. The grape harvest season begins in December and continues up to April. “We sought special permission to transport grapes and hence farmers growing wine varieties will not suffer any loss due to Covid -19,” he added.
“Wineries have started crushing with the available labour and we hope that the crushing target is achieved this season. There are also some wine factories in Karnataka which are trying their best to crush grapes. The AIWPA has not yet analysed the loss industry will incur due to Covid-19 and the decline in demand due to the lockdown,” said Borse.
Meanwhile, some of the industry players said the number of tourists visiting Nashik has dried up. Domestic and foreign tourism typically starts in the region in March and April. Some wineries provide accommodation and recreation facilities to tourists. However, there are hardly any visitors this year due to the pandemic. Maharashtra ranks first in terms of grapes production, accounting for more than 81.22 per cent of the total production in the country. It also leads in terms of productivity. Borse said that farmers in the State cultivate wine varieties on over 5,000 acres.