Non-grape wines create buzz in the market

Alka Kshirsagar Pune | Updated on October 09, 2012 Published on October 09, 2012


Non-grape wines, made from fruits such as lychee, mango, pineapple and now strawberry, today account for less than 5 per cent of India’s total wine production, but the recent trend suggests that they will soon be commanding a more favourable slice of the wine pie.

The confidence that fruit wines have great potential was why Pune-based Akalpit Prabhune, an alumnus of the city’s most premium engineering college gave up a 10-year long career in IT to set up Hill Crest, a new wine company, and go commercial with pineapple wine a year ago. The product, branded Rhythm, has been so well-received in Pune that he and his Mumbai-based partner Gulu Jagtiani are now launching a strawberry wine under the same label, he says.

“The slightly sweet taste of these wines makes them popular with people setting out on the wine journey,” Prabhune feels.

J. P. Gupta, CMD of Nirvana Biosys, a Haryana-based wine company, endorses Prabune’s optimism on fruit wines. A little over a year ago, Nirvana launched lychee wine under the brand name Luca, following this with a mango wine six months on. It also has grape wine under this label and estimates it will make a total of six lakh litres this season.

Last year, fruit wine varietals contributed less than 20 per cent of Nirvana’s total wine production.

Today the figure is closer to 40 per cent, and growing, Gupta says, adding that the mango wine has met with a warm reception overseas and the company recently despatched a large export consignment to Japan where it sells for as much as $ 40 for a bottle.

Nirvana has plans to introduce edible rose and herbal wines too and if the trend continues may consider converting the entire facility to fruit wines, Gupta says observing that with over 500 varieties of mango, India is sitting on a huge and monopolistic opportunity.

Fruit wines have existed in India in States where grapes cannot be grown, says Jagdish Holkar, Chairman, Indian Grape Processing Board (IGPB), revealing that he has been invited by the Arunachal Pradesh government to give a fillip to local products such as kiwi wines.

The IGPB has just launched an initiative to promote traditional wines in premium hotels in six Indian cities via the B2B channel, and wants to promote fruit wines as well. The only hitch in popularising them is the inordinately high excise duty which grape wines are exempt of thanks to a wine policy by some States, a vintner says.

Published on October 09, 2012
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