While European consumers have for generations been used to standards protecting the wines they buy, that has not been the case in India. However, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries has now revealed plans to introduce national wine standards, with the Indian Grape Processing Board calling on producers for their input.
It is anticipated that the new standards, which will codify grape varieties, alcohol content, fermentation processes, hygiene standards and viticulture practices, will be finalised and implemented across the country over the next six months.
Karnataka is one of the wine producing states that has bought in to the plan. Over the last five years, the state has seen production double to 3,500,000 litres and consumption increase by more than one-third to 2,200,000 litres. This surge puts Karnataka behind only Maharashtra in terms of acreage and production.
“With no proper standards now, poor quality wines are being dumped here, and people are not aware of what they are consuming. This initiative will not only benefit the consumers, but help producers to increase exports,” said Karnataka Wine Board’s MD, Mahantesh Murgod.
The export of wines from India to Europe hit the ropes when the EU began to enforce stricter policies covering the chemical content of wines. It is hoped that the proposed wine standards will play a role in raising wine quality to a higher benchmark level.
At the same time, importers are able to supply poor quality wines to the Indian market because the government has not set any quality parameters, said U Venkateswarlu, joint-secretary of the MoFPI.
Last week the IGPB launched WineNet, a web-based certification and traceability for wine products exported from India.
“It’s based on the GrapeNet that was designed for grape traceability by India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority and is aimed at giving the consumer correct information about any wine,” said Sanjay Gahlot, CEO of the IGPB.
Currently, the system is at an early stage, but the IGPB anticipates it should be ready in the next two months once it finishes mapping out India’s wineries and vineyards across Maharashtra and Karnataka.
“In the first phase only we are going to limit it to exports. We shall take it forward eventually with wines for domestic consumption,” said Dhananjay Datar, the IGPB’s COO.