Sula Vineyards works with over 400 grape growers in Maharashtra and Karnataka with 10-year assured buyback contracts
The grape harvest at Sula Vineyards, the country’s largest wine producer, is underway and the company will crush about 13,000 MT of grapes this season, a top official said.
“This year we will crush close to 13,000 MT of grapes, up 20% from 2015. Total farmer payments will cross Rs 50 crore,” Rajeev Samant, CEO, Sula Vineyards, said. “The grapes will come from across Maharashtra at our three wineries here, and from across Karnataka for our Karnataka winery. This year the effects of climate change and global warming are highly apparent with our harvest starting fully two weeks earlier than ever before,” he said.
Samant added that the industry as well as wine growers are bearing the brunt of climate change and having to rapidly adapt their practices to cope with the often adverse effects. “In the 16 years since we began operations, we have built strong relations with our growers whose ranks are increasing every day,” he said. Sula Vineyards works with over 400 grape growers in Maharashtra and Karnataka with 10-year assured buyback contracts.
“The last three harvests were of excellent quality and quantity but 2016 looks to be much more challenging with lower yields due to unseasonal rains post monsoon. This year’s wine grape prices have again increased with red grape prices going as high as Rs 50/kg for reserve quality,” he said..
The wine industry has been responsible for astonishing growth in rural employment and rural incomes ever since Maharashtra unveiled the first progressive wine policy in 2001 and Karnataka followed with an even more liberal policy three years later, Samant said.
In 2016, the industry will crush over 27,000 MT of grapes. It has set itself a target of 100,000 tonnes within 5 years. Only 2% of India’s over 1 lakh hectares of vineyards are currently planted with wine grapes, while in the rest of the world the figure is over 90%, he said.
The industry experienced a second straight year with almost 20% growth showing that more and more Indians are now preferring wine to hard liquor.