Nagpur Local

Vidarbha’s first winery uncorks in Bhandara

Nagpur: A few months ago, a full-fledged winery began its commercial operations in Bhandara in a first of its kind business venture for Vidarbha, with bottles of port wine being marketed in that district.

SP Wineries is now finalizing its plans for next month’s promotion of the company in Nagpur and foraying into the luxury wine segment by next year. Shashichandra Jaiswal, whose family owns retail liquor shops, broke tradition and tried to “follow his passion” in wine production.

It all started almost a decade ago as an idea when Jaiswal took up a’ homemade wines ‘ hobby. Jaiswal, though a teetotaller, has always been intrigued by the wine as a’ classy’ drink.

“Friends have sampled my homemade wines and the feedback I got was that it tastes better than most commercial products. Then, I finally got a winery license in 2015,’ Jaiswal said.

Jaiswal began work on his factory in 2017 with guidance from his Nashik vineyard-owner friend Rajesh Borse, who is also an office-bearer of the All India Wine Producers ‘ Association (AIWPA). Luckily, he too had an in-house specialist. “My nephew Shaurya did his M.Sc. in wine and alcohol technology and that proved to be a big advantage in our small unit where his father Prakashchandra is also a partner,” Jaiswal said.

The next big question was on grape sourcing. “I decided to buy Nashik grapes so that we could immediately start commercial production of port wine. Port wine is made from non-premium grapes, and accounts for 95% of all Indian wine sales, “Jaiswal said.

The first batch went bottled in June 2019. In this new business, Jaiswal prefers to take small steps. “We are only selling in Bhandara right now but our goods will be available in Nagpur by the end of February. It takes time to expand the business, as wine sales volume is very low compared to whiskey and beer, “Jaiswal said.

He has a plan in place to ascend the winemaking value chain. “In the next few years, premium grapes will be grown here in Pauni, after which we will venture into the upper segment,” Jaiswal said.

While a bottle of port wine sells for around Rs200-230, a bottle of premium wine of a similar size will go for at least Rs750. Yet Jaiswal can not rely on the grapes coming from other cities to make it commercially viable.

He is persuaded that grapevines grow at the conditions of Vidarbha. “I saw grapes growing alongside’ paan ‘ leaf plants in Pauni some decades ago. Therefore there is no doubt in my mind that there is a simple ecosystem. Of course, I will take advice from experts in agriculture to further model conditions on vineyards for optimum grape quality, “Jaiswal said.

Nagpur Wine Club director Deepak Khanuja said, “It is a matter of great pride that wines being produced in Vidarbha are available on the market. This will help promote the wine community, and it will also prove economically advantageous for farmers to step up the value chain.

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