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Kudos to KWB for Wine Sales Initiative at Hopcoms

Posted: Friday, 14 June 2013 17:31

Kudos to KWB for Wine Sales Initiative at Hopcoms

June 14: Karnataka Wine Board deserves kudos for taking yet another step to popularize wine as a food product in Karnataka by announcing a proposal to set up wine boutiques in Bangalore at the grocery outlets of HOPCOMS - Horticultural Producers' Marketing and Processing Society Ltd. - and bring Karnataka a step closer to being the most dynamic and progressive wine-savvy State in India

According to media reports, KWB has received the green signal from the Horticultural Producers’ Marketing and Processing Society Ltd. which sells fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmers at various outlets in Bangalore directly to the consumers, giving an advantage to them as fresh produce is available at lower prices and the farmer gets higher margins by cutting out the middle men.

According to Mahantesh Murgod, MD of KWB, a survey has been reportedly conducted to identify Hopcoms outlets that have the potential to sell wine. Cox Town, Indira Nagar, Electronics City and Whitefield have already been identified while the fifth one will be named soon. These boutiques are directly a result of the KWB’s mission and efforts  to popularize wine and encourage the growth of the industry in the state. Eventually, they will target 15 stores that will sell wine and if the experiment succeeds, such outlets will sell wines outside Bangalore too.

Customers will not be allowed to taste or drink wine at the outlet because of the current excise laws but they can buy and carry out the sealed bottles from the outlets. To ensure that the wine does not spoil because of poor storage, KWB has decided to provide the temperature controlling facility for the bottles at the outlets.

“Hopcoms have to apply to the excise department for the license. Our responsibility is to ensure the steady supply of wine,” he added. Confirming the proposal, DL Maheswar, MD of Hopcom said, ‘our board will take a final decision after receiving the list of proposed outlets and discussing within.’ Hopcoms has also not decided yet how much quantity of wine will be sold at each outlet. The project may be extended to other areas if it succeeds in Bangalore. According to Murgod, the decision to provide a marketing platform to wine producers and farmers who grow grapes has been pending for long. Karnataka is known to be a major producer of grapes with over 2,000 acres of vineyards. The board registers an annual production of 35 lakh liters of wine through 17 distilleries*. "Wine is a healthy drink if consumed in small portions. It contains 8-14pc of natural alcohol. The other reason why we are promoting its sale through Hopcoms is because many women find it odd to walk into liquor shops," he added.

Abhay Kewadkar, Vice President of the Wine Division of Bangalore-based Four Seasons, was naturally quite elated about the decision. Though he was not sure whether only wines from Karnataka or from across India will be sold, he tells delWine, 'the most important thing is that KWB and the Hopcoms will be sending the right message to the public and politicians that wine is a food product and will benefit the farmer. When a slightly emancipated housewife can walk into an outlet and pick up tomatoes, grapes and wines freely from the same store, it will help promote wine as an agro-product, which it is.’

To popularize wine consumption in the public, the Karnataka Wine Board (KWB) has also announced plans to conduct weekend classes for the public. Apart from creating awareness on wine, techniques to test wine and how wine contributes to good health and other such benefits will be explained during the weekend classes, according to Murgod, echoing Kewadkar’s sentiments. Those who want to enroll their names may contact KWB directly.

Karnataka Wine Board has been one of the more bindaas organizations connected with the government and has been progressive from ground zero. In fact when the National Wine Board was to be named, the central government developed cold feet and worried about a possible backlash, it decided to name it the Indian Grape Processing Board; in the process exposing the in-built hypocrisy in the system. KWB has been taking progressive steps and their convincing Hopcom to sell wine in the fruit and vegetable outlets might be considered a milestone in delinking wine from alcoholic spirits-and KWB should be proud of it.

Subhash Arora

* Though we welcome this step by KWB I wish they would not refer to the wineries as distilleries (it could possibly be wrong usage thanks to the reporting journalist too!). Distilleries are where liquor is distilled. Beer is brewed in a brewery. Wine is made by FERMENTATION of grapes in a WINERY. Also, it might be a good idea the local wine lovers to trudge to these outlets to shop for the groceries and pick up some wines too in order to show and register their appreciation of the new concept. One also hopes that Karnataka allows the sale of wines from all over India and not only from Karnataka. This will give a wider choice to the customer, In any case, the wines from out of Karnataka are more expensive than the local wines but if someone is willing to pay extra for his or her favourite brand, the choice must be available.

A word of caution and advice to KWB and Hopcoms- the wines allowed must be only the natural wines, i.e., made only from fermentation of grapes and not fortified of cheap Goan wines. KWB is planning to spend substantial money to educate people about wine and they must send out the message that cheap wine fortified with cheap alcohol will not be encouraged. Unfortunately for many of our readers, we cannot recommend sale to include imported wines through such outlets for obvious reasons. One must go through the traditional channels according to the current procedures and taxation policy for imported wines-editor

Tags: Karnataka Wine Board , Karnataka, HOPCOMS, Horticultural Producers' Marketing and Processing Society Ltd, Abhay Kewadkar, Four Seasons, KWB


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