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. Wine tourism has begun to catch the fancy of not only overseas visitors, but it could also soon become a part of the exotic journeys of this luxury tourist train, officials of a major wine body of Maharashtra have said.
Deccan Odyssey is a special luxury train modelled on the Palace on Wheels to boost tourism on the Konkan route. The train has several overseas visitors wanting to explore and get a taste of the 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, said the move could boost wine tourism and also make the world familiar with Indian wines. India may not yet be a big destination for wine tours, but wineries in the Nasik region are certainly becoming popular for weekend breaks between December and March.
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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.
According to Jagtap, the wine tours of Nasik have enticed the management of Deccan Odyssey and he had been asked to submit proposals with regard to the potential of carrying out special journeys for wine tours to Nashik as part of the train’s itinerary.
Indian wines are being appreciated the world over, he said, adding that a 40-member group from the largest French wine cooperative Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne recently visited Nashik for a special wine tour. They visited Sula Wines, Grover Zampa and even Moet Hennesey Chandon and especially appreciated sparkling wines. If the Nashik wine tour finds a place on the itinerary of the Deccay Odyssey, Indian wines could make a mark globally, he said.
Visitors are now showing a serious interest in wine tours with bookings happening even nine months earlier, he said, citing the example of an Australian group which is slated to visit Nashik in
September. There has been a 15-20 % rise in the number of wine tourists over the previous year.
Meanwhile, wineries across Nashik district are gearing up for the crushing season with some of them already beginning crushing. While Sula Vineyards, one of the biggest wine producers of the country with 65% of market share, started early crushing in December for their sparkling wines and whites, some of the wineries are expected to crush in February or March, Yatin Patil, president, All India Wine Producers Association, said.
“We are not expecting a major change this season and total production of some 1.5 crore litres is expected for the season. Because of the winter, the ripening gets delayed but the crop is expected to be more or less the same.”
Last season, the wineries produced around 1.4 crore litres, the highest production for the sector till date, he said. This year, the area under plantation of wine grape varieties in the district has increased to 3,500 acre from 3,000 acre last year.
There are 95 wineries in the country, including 77 in Maharashtra. Of these, 39 wineries are in Nashik. Maharashtra accounts for almost 90% of the total grape-wine production in India, with Nashik contributing 80% of the total wine production in the country.