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Posted: Saturday, 14 May 2022 23:37

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NEFS Shillong tastes success at Wine Pavilion by Vinexpo

May 14: The second edition of the North East Food Show 2022 organised on the Polo Grounds of Shillong on 5-7 May was quite a success with the display of good infrastructure and tastefully arranged Stands displaying local products but the wine pavilion which was erected for the first time with the support of Vinexpo established its feet firmly on the ground, writes Cav. Subhash Arora who organised 8 Masterclasses, 4 each on wines and fruit wines respectively and was satisfied with the maiden efforts of the Directorate of Food Processing to bring 6 stands from the mainland India, augmenting an equal number of local stands and the magnificent Meghalaya Fruit Wine Cellar

North Eastern states of India have very fertile land with abundance of fruits a majority of which goes waste, with no infrastructure to make wine out of fruits like pineapples, kiwis, wild apples and cherries etc. Fruit processing industry has also not developed much. Till recently, the law did not allow wine production or consumption through sales.

The current Chief Minister Sh. Conrad K Sangma is a great proponent of wines made from local fruits. Grapes also grow but due to heavy rains during most months it is not feasible to grow quality grapes for wine. The State had allowed homemade fruit wines to be marketed legally with a recent conducive policy, thus resulting in a substantial number of new producers in the recent past.

Chief Minister of Meghalaya-C K Sangma inaugurating NEFSThe Meghalaya Fruit Wine pavilion was proof enough to see the growing importance of fruit wines. The credit for keeping up the production of homemade fruit wines goes squarely to Michael Syiem, an ardent supporter of fruit wines who formed Meghalaya Fruit wine producers Association and has been working for the last 20 years to have an old pre-Independence law prohibiting fruit wine sales repealed.

Also Read : NEFS in Shillong on May 5-7 to host Wine Pavilion supported by Vinexpo India

After 18 hours of struggle, the government agreed to pass a law which opens the doors for professional winemaking-a need of the hour if these States want to improve the quality to the national level.

While inaugurating the Conference, CM Sangma roared that there were people who were not supportive of even the Food Show or the wine pavilion. He asserted that the success of a Show like this should not be measured in one, two or five years, but the long term performance ought to be viewed. In the very first two Shows, the vast improvement was visible with many craftsmen getting orders not only from mainland India but also overseas. With most people not even aware earlier of FSSAI and packing wines in whisky or beer bottles,  they had started using international packaging-proof enough to show that it was moving in the right direction and future editions will be World Class.

Also Read : JAI HO to Meghalaya for Legalising Fruit Wines

Good Drop Wine Cellars and Rhythm Winery StandsThe infrastructure showed that the organisers are capable of producing a high quality show. There were a few minor hiccups for the Stands and Masterclasses but they are there at most such Shows. All the wine stands affirmed they were happy with the arrangements and confirmed that they would participate in future both- in the Stands as well as Masterclasses which were generally full or overflowed with visitors.

The proponent of fruit wine Chief Minister even attended the first Masterclass by a local producer Nasi-Ki and even addressed the participants, emphasising that the government policies were conducive to encourage fruit wine production in Meghalaya. Karnataka Wine Board, Grover Vineyards, Fratelli and Good Drop Wine Cellars conducted Masterclasses on wines whereas Nasi-Ki, Naara Aaba, Rhythm Winery and Moonshine Meadery had people attend their masterclasses on fruit wines and Meads (Honey wine) with guided tastings in each session.

The CM assured that there would not be any heavy encumbrances on the local winemakers to encourage more productivity and generate employment as well. “The state government has ensured that there will be no VAT, and the ad valorem of Rs. 100 per case, paid by these winemakers will be much less than other products. We have also ensured that the license fee will be only Rs 7,500 for individuals from different cooperative societies or companies interested."

Wine Masterclass chaired by Subhash Arora being attended by CM CONRAD SANGMA (second from left)On a lighter note, the Chief Minister who supported the Show by hosting the Chief Minister’s Gala Dinner and being present for the whole evening but chatting freely with the guests, even displaying his dexterity with the guitar and his love for rock music, simply mesmerizing everyone with his non-political skills by belting a few vocal popular numbers from the gone-by era.    

Also Read : Shillong hosts 12th Fruit Wine Festival

While such support will go a long way to help the local wine industry improve their quality, they need to attend wine shows like the Vinexpo India in Mumbai (on 18-20 August) and Delhi (1-3 December) where they can have their quality and taste assessed by a wide range of consumers and interact with distributors, retailers and sommeliers to take their quality up to a desired level. They should also Naara Aaaba  Kiwi wine Stand from Arunachal Pradeshparticipate in Masterclasses so that they can tell their story that would be interesting for a captive audience.

Rain did play a bit of spoilsport with two days of intermittent rains, affecting attendance though the organisers, prepared for such an eventuality, had made the Polo Ground where the show was held, as water-proof and the activities within the Show carried on unperturbed with the pelting rain drops due to the deluge handled effectively.

The North East Food Show 2022 provided a great opportunity to see the progress made by these States. With a slightly more emphasis on the tourism, there is no reason why the Show will not attract several hundreds or thousands of visitors from the mainland India in future to this ‘Scotland of the East’, Shillong which has some very attractive spots in and around, including lakes, park and even a very old golf course.

Also Read : Shimla to Shillong Seeking Fruit Wines

With direct support and branding from Vinexpo and Vinexpo India, the wine pavilion is heading to be a winner for the 8 North Eastern states of India, as would the North East Food Show which, with the branding support of SIAL India already had assured support of many buyers and stakeholders.

Subhash Arora

 

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