Heady brew, sales make a merry fete

Heady brew, sales make a merry fete

Good times

Heady brew, sales make a merry fete

It was not quite binge drinking at Lalbagh’s wine fest promoted by the State Government. But, by the time the second day of the festival closed, just about the time when a glass of Burgundy red or Chardonnay white would have set the evening rolling, no less than 300 cases had been sold – a measure of not just the demand but also the taste of Bangaloreans.

What, however, left a bad taste in the mouth of those who dropped by at the festival was that they were not offered to taste any of the wines. Freeloaders did not have a swell day, for festival organisers, anticipating the entry of this breed of men (and, perhaps, even women), had taken care not to allow tasting beyond a certain time. Those who stole a sip or two walked away with the goblets -- as many as 40 were found missing.

“Every visitor was asking for wines to taste. Unable to cope with the burgeoning crowd we stopped tasting sessions this morning,” Wine Board managing director Dr Krishna said.

But connoisseurs and those thirsty for the taste of sweet wine had their way.
Others with deep pockets purchased wine in bulk to fill up their cellars, and the modest buyer left with a bottle tugged under his arm.

The organisers were surprised by the response they received to the festival. Altogether they sold more than 300 cases in two days and are expecting more footfalls on Sunday, the festival’s last day.

The manufacturers of Grover, Naka and Kinvah, the three wine-brands of Karnataka, had set up stalls and all of them struggled to match supply with demand.

“The response is so good that that within 20 minutes 20 cases were sold in my stall. I am trying to get some more cases”, said B N Nanjundaiah, Chairman and Managing Director of Naka Wines.

The wine industry in Karnataka is still its infancy. Hardly 4,000 cases of native wine brands are sold in a month in the state. Even cultivation of grape was limited to 600 acres till last year. Over the past year, 1,800 acres of land has been converted to vineyards.

“This is because of the the state’s new wine policy, which promoted grape cultivation and also the wine industry”, said Dr Krishna.

Not just wine sales, even the number of visitors to the festival swelled from 20,000 to 40,000 which is 5,000 less than the capacity at Chinnaswamy stadium.

Incidentally, Krishna is a teetotaller and has word of advice for rough-drinkers. “I don’t imbibe alcohol. But I suggest those attached to hard liquor shift to wine”, he said.

For those like Vijay, a City-based businessman, Krishna’s suggestion, will take some time before it is followed because the state’s wine industry “still has a long way to go”.
Hari Gowda, who owns a winery in Switzerland, said:
“Those into wine making here need expertise and that can be done if experts from France and other wine-producing countries are invited to offer their skills.”
For this, the government must liberalise its policy so that in a globalised economy, Karnataka wine is exported,” Gowda said.

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