Wine lovers in Maharashtra could soon have reason to raise a toast

The existing wine policy, which allows sale of wine only through exclusive liquor stores, has been in force for the last 20 years and will lapse by the end of this month.

Some of the demands expected to be considered by the state Cabinet include allowing sale of wine at supermarkets, permission to sell wine on dry days, lowering of legal age for drinking wine to 21 years and demand for permission to sell wine on e-commerce platforms and through apps.
Some of the demands expected to be considered by the state Cabinet include allowing sale of wine at supermarkets, permission to sell wine on dry days, lowering of legal age for drinking wine to 21 years and demand for permission to sell wine on e-commerce platforms and through apps.

Wine in Maharashtra may soon be available in supermarkets, shop in shops, daily needs shops, departmental stores, bakeries and similar outlets as the state government is likely to draft a new policy shortly, allowing winemakers to broaden their retail footprint. The thinking behind this shift is that majority of wines have very low content of pure spirits as compared to other liquors. Also, a large number of restaurants and bakeries use wine for food making.

The existing wine policy, which allows sale of wine only through exclusive liquor stores, has been in force for the last 20 years and will lapse by the end of this month.

The government has already announced Rs 10 per litre of (all types of wine) bottle as a nominal excise tax. This will earn only` 5 crore revenue for the state but will help the excise administration know the amount of wine bottles sold in the market, according to senior officials of the excise department.

Maharashtra has between 40 and 45 operational wineries. Of these, between 15 and 20 units directly market products, while the rest are only manufacturers. The wine industry has a turnover of around `1,000 crore in India, of which 65% units are in Maharashtra. Most wineries are located in Nashik, which produces around 80% of India’s wine, followed by Sangli, Pune, Solapur, Buldhana and Ahmednagar. The current sale of 70 lakh litres per year in the state is expected to go up to 1 crore litres under the new liberalised policy for retail sale.

The All-India Wine Producers Association’s (AIWPA) president Jagdish Holkar told FE that the new year could bring new tidings for the sector. The association has placed a list of demands before the government and some of the recommendations are likely to be considered by the government, he said. Some of the demands expected to be considered by the state Cabinet include allowing sale of wine at supermarkets, permission to sell wine on dry days, lowering of legal age for drinking wine to 21 years and demand for permission to sell wine on e-commerce platforms and through apps.

“It has taken two decades for the country’s wine sector to reach a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore and our aim is to increase this five-fold in the next five years by promoting wine in a big way in the state. Wine should be easily available to the end consumer,” Holkar said.

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