Vintners in Nashik, the country’s wine capital, are planning to hold a grape harvesting festival in March. A Marathi literature meet is slated to be held in Nashik in March this year and the wineries have decided to take advantage of the increased footfalls in the city to promote wine tourism as well.
Jagdish Holkar, president, All India Wine Producers Association (AIWPA), said that the festival will be held on March 27 and 28 in conjunction with the literary meet so that more people can visit the wineries this season. The crushing season has commenced and this is also an ideal time for people to visit wineries as well, he said.
The association expects 8,000-10,000 footfalls for the festival. The grape harvesting festival will be based on the theme of water sports and wine.
The scale of the festival, however, has been toned down due to the Covid pandemic and a bigger festival has been planned in 2022 to attract foreign tourists as well, Holkar said.
The year 2020 has been difficult for the sector since there have been no wine sales between April to September 2020 and, therefore, the tanks are still holding wine to the tune of around 40-50%, he said. “Therefore, wineries will collectively reduce their crushing capacity by about 8,000 to 10,000 tonne this year. On average, 25,000 tonne of wine grapes are crushed in the country. This time around 15,000 -17,000 tonne are likely to be crushed by wineries.
This means that table grapes will not be crushed for making wine this year,” he pointed out. The wineries have collectively decided to honour the contracts of farmers and give priority to crushing wine grapes, he said.
According to Holkar, wine sales have been affected during the pandemic and wineries are slowly getting back on their feet. Before the breakout of the pandemic, on average, four million cases of wine were sold per year in the country. A case contains 12 bottles of 750 ml each.
Wine tourism began picking up in Nashik after more than six months of closure caused by lockdowns and restrictions imposed due to the Covid outbreak January onwards.
Holkar said that wine tourism is now the flavour of the season with people wanting to try out something new other than coastal tourism and hill station tourism. Footfalls in Nashik have been in the range of 400-450 on a daily basis since October 2020.
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