After the Maharashtra government agreed to withdraw its notification imposing 100% excise on bulk transfer of wine, the grape crushing season is all set to begin soon.
The state government in November 2014 had imposed a 100% excise duty on bulk transfer of wines, following which large wineries, such as Sula Wines, had stopped sourcing bulk wines from small players.
A delegation led by All India Wine Producers’ Association president Shivajirao Aher, India Grape Processing Board (IGPB) chairman Jagdish Holkar and industry members met Maharashtra excise minister Eknath Khadse.
Small wineries had expressed fear that they may not be able to crush grape to full capacity since the tanks would have remained full.
Aher said the minister agreed to withdraw the demand notice for excise duty on blended wine from grapes grown in Maharashtra. A final notification will be issued within a week after which wineries will be permitted to transfer wines for blending to bigger wineries.
Around eight to 10 smaller wineries, bulk suppliers to Sula, were in a fix as this was a major source of revenue for them. With the new grape crushing season all set to start, smaller wineries felt that their wine may remain unsold.
Around 20,000 to 25,000 tonne grapes are expected to be crushed in the 2015 season. Sula had purchased 20 lakh litre of wine last year from 11 wineries last season. All these wineries and grape growers would have been in trouble if the circular had not been revoked.
Bulk wine transfer was allowed in 2005, said Rajesh Jadhav, secretary, All India Wine Producers’ Association. Maharashtra produces 75% of the country’s wine and table grapes, and the rest comes from Karnataka. Some other states, too, have also started growing grapes.
Blending of wine is necessary to maintain taste, aroma and quality, say wineries. With wineries sourcing grapes locally, the soociation believed that the withdrawal of the government order would only benefit the state farmers.
The association had also urged the government to allow transfer of bulk wine to wineries for storage on rent, filtration and bottlin. Currently, to avail these facility, wineries have to show sales, take transport permit from the excise department by paying vent fee for going and coming wine which is not sales actually and returning back after different processing. The association requested the government to allow allow temporary wine transfer for storage, filter, bottling purpose in bulk or in bottle to other wineries in the state.