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KWB to compete with Private Wineries for Wine Tourism

Posted: Monday, 07 March 2016 12:39


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KWB to compete with Private Wineries for Wine Tourism

March 07: If one can decipher the media reports correctly, Karnataka Wine Board has announced a Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme under which it will develop a winery in 60 acres of land at the footsteps of Nandi Hills with a million- litre wine boutique to promote wine tourism with a wine cafe, wine tasting lounge and a wine institute in order to corner a part of the wine tourism business dominated by private wineries

According the Deccan Herald, officials in the Karnataka Wine Board (KWB) are working out the details of the project to be implemented at the foothills of Nandi Hills in Chikkaballapur district. ‘It aims to promote wine tourism, wine cafe, wine tasting lounge and wine institute,’ through this facility. KWB hopes to get a share of the lucrative enterprise currently dominated by private wineries. Interestingly, the tours are proposed to be run with the help of the Horticulture Department.

According to the report, KWB Director T Somu said that wine tourism would be started under Public Private Partnership (PPP). Wine boutiques will also be started across Karnataka to boost wine tourism.

The board apparently wants to attract tourists, especially foreigners, who presently enjoy wine tourism programmes organised by private companies on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Though the KWB helps promote wine tourism, private wineries never share the profit with it, claims the Board reportedly.

The report does not clarify many basic questions raised by the project. Has the land been bought already? Who will be the partners and how will the whole process be carried out? What about the funding? What would happen to the wines produced in the 1 million-liter facility which cannot be categorised as a boutique by any stretch of imagination? Is it realistic to claim that the so called hub of wine tourism will be ready next year onwards? Who will market the wine produced? What about the stay facility at the so-called hub? Wine tastings are fine and necessary but wine tourism calls for several other activities to attract the consumer, including stay to make it a mini vacation for people driving for over 2-3 hours out of town.

At the outset, it appears to be a project on the rebound. Over the years, KWB has demarcated three valleys in Karnataka— Krishna valley, Hampi valley and Nandi valley. It had initially proposed a wine park at Nandi Hills, but farmers and horticulture officials felt there was better scope in Vijayapura, the hub of grape cultivation. The 141-acre wine park will now come up at Torvi village in that district.

Wine boutiques will also be started across Karnataka to boost wine tourism, says the report. This is surprising because stand alone wine boutiques might not become self-sustaining financially. Most of the wine boutiques do not make profits even at the winery, with Sula being the proverbial exception that proves the rule. It would not make any financial sense just like it does not make any sense to plan a wine tourism hub especially for the foreigners who would rather see a better infrastructure to make the visits more frequent. KWB is known to be a strong promoter of wine culture in the state. It is implicit that Indians in and around Bangalore and Karnataka and the nearby States are encouraged to use the facility as often as possible and as widely as feasible, not the foreigners though it would help to improve their understanding of Indian wines being produced in the State.

The board will design the tour with the help of the Horticulture Department, according to the report. This is like saying since farmers grow the grapes, they would be the best persons to make wine and sell it and reap the benefit directly. We have seen the disastrous effects of that assumption with the Maharashtra farmers setting up the wineries with the dream of making lucrative profits. It’s one thing helping cultivate the grapes or the landscaping of the area but marketing the concept in the hands of Horticulture Department may not be the best of alternatives, despite their success in the existing ventures. The best persons to depend upon would be in the tourism department, if a government agency has at all to be relied upon.

This also seems to mark a 180 degree deviation from the earlier policy where the Karnataka Wine Board admittedly encouraged and totally supported Heritage Winery, a prime producer of fortified wines in Karnataka, since the winery was just off the Bangalore-Mysore Highway- delWine had reported it in its newsletter no. 585 of 13 January, 2014.

Subsequent to this report, I had visited the winery although I was impressed by the business acumen of the owner, P L Venkatarama Reddy and his vision to fulfil the huge demand of fortified wine while also producing a small quantity of unfortified wines to qualify as a wine tourism destination. Though their fortified red and white are popular at the winery, the quality of these wine grape-based, unfortified wines needed much improvement in quality.

We shall be following the story as it unfolds and will report in the future issues of this newsletter. So keep reading.

Subhash Arora

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Tags : Karnataka Wine Board, Nandi Hills, KWB, Chikkaballapur, T Somu, Karnataka, Krishna valley, Hampi valley, Nandi valley, Torvi, Sula, Heritage Winery, P L Venkatarama Reddy



Subhash Arora Says:


I could not agree with you more Alok. This seems to be a ridiculous idea and those approving would look even more ridiculous. Frankly, I contacted Dr. Krishna before publishing. ( I even called you!). He is not there in the KWB and I could not contact Mr. Somu. Since you are in Bangalore you should meet up with them and see what they really have in mind. Maybe they got a media release to check out the reaction of the people. Maybe, the newspaper Deccan Herald made a booboo-trying to break the story. Truly a half baked idea and possibly a half baked or planted story. Needs further investigation and there is no one better than you in Bangalore. Subhash Arora

Posted @ March 08, 2016 17:10


Alok Chandra Says:


The proposal to have the Karnataka Wine Board set up a vineyard and winery anywhere is a bad idea - one that will only benefit the state government officials concerned. The Government should not be in business: its role should be confined to making policies that facilitate the wine business, and in regulation of standards. Mark my words: the venture will cost the state government about Rs. 100 Crore over five years - money better spent elsewhere.

Posted @ March 08, 2016 16:30


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