Wine tour may soon become Konkan luxury train feature

Written by Nanda Kasabe | Pune | Updated: Sep 2 2014, 07:34am hrs
Wine tours could soon become an integral part of Maharashtra's tourism and also find a place on the itinerary of the famous luxury train Deccan Odyssey. The advisory committee formed by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is of the opinion that a wine tour will appeal to overseas visitors aboard the luxury train.

Deccan Odyssey is a special luxury train modelled on the Palace on Wheels to boost tourism on the Konkan route. The route starts in Mumbai and covers Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Goa, Belgaum, Kolhapur, Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and Ajanta-Ellora. The train has several overseas visitors wanting to explore and get a taste of Indian culture.

Manoj Jagtap, coordinator, All India Wine Producers Association ( AIWPA) and a wine tour operator in Nashik who is also part of the committee, says the move could boost wine tourism and also make the world familiar with Indian wines.The committee has suggested that MTDC run a special bus to Nashik only for wine tourism from Mumbai and Pune. Once the bus tour catches on, it could become a regular feature, its members said.

India may not yet be a big destination for wine tours, but wineries in the Nasik region of Maharashtra are certainly becoming popular for weekend breaks, between December and March every year. While about half of India's wineries are located near Nasik, other regions with smaller wineries include Baramati and Sangli. Nasik has a strategic location advantage from Mumbai and Pune that have a large young educated populace willing to explore something new on the lines of wine tours, an industry observer said.

In a bid to put Maharashtra on the world wine map, AIWPA and MTDC are gearing up to promote the Sahyadri Valley region as a wine tourism hub, using Napa Valley and the likes as models. AIWPA is an association of wineries across India that organises activities such as vineyard tours to promote wine culture in the country.

Nashik has around 50-odd wineries and several have set up tasting rooms on their premises, giving visitors an opportunity not only to see how the wines are made but also try out new varieties. What is also appealing is that discounts of 10-20% on retail price are available on purchase. There are total 93 wineries in the country, including 75 in Maharashtra.

The Indian Association of Tour Operators has included Nasik for wine tours. This has benefited tour operators like Jagtap, who has ended up with several bookings through their recommendation. The Nashik Wine Tours Facebook Page set up a few months ago has become another route for overseas visitors to book wine tours in Nashik, he said. Recently, 31 Italians, representing the Italian Oenological Group, came to Nashik for a tour. Another group of 51 visitors from Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, the famous French champagne house, was in the city.