In an attempt to give a major thrust to the Indian liquor industry, the government is drafting a separate wine and beer policy and is also examining a proposal to set up an autonomous national grape and wine board (NGWB).
"A separate wine and beer policy is being evolved and the creation of an autonomous organisation, NGWB, also needs attention," the Food Processing Ministry said in a recent proposal submitted to the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC).
Industry estimates suggest that the current size of the domestic wine market in India is about seven lakh cases of wine with the potential of reaching a level of 28 lakh cases over the next five years.
The domestic wine industry is currently worth Rs 300 crore. According to a vision document prepared by the ministry, it is expected to reach Rs 5,000 crore by 2011.
Wine constitutes less than one per cent of the entire alcoholic drinks market in India, which is currently worth Rs 8000 crore. There are three main wine producers in the country—Champagne Indage, Sula and Grovers. Seagram's also recently announced its foray into the wine segment.
The proposed NGWB would be modelled broadly on the lines of other commodity boards such as the Coffee Board.
"The objectives of the board will be to promote the grape and wine industry in general and promote cooperative efforts among growers of grapes, manufacturers of raisins, juice and wine and encourage contract farming," the ministry said in its proposal to the NMCC.
The board would also have the mandate to monitor cultivation and production of the desired variety of grapes and disseminate the best viticulture practices.
Viticulture is the term used to describe the cultivation of grapes.
"The board would identify and develop appropriate root stocks of grapes for different geo-climatic regions of the country and undertake research and development in new technology, products and processes for the continuous modernisation of the grape processing and wine industry," it said.
The board will also conduct courses to develop skills for the industry's workers.
"Domestic consumption of wine is growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 25 per cent and we expect the growth rate to sustain over the next few years as disposable incomes increase, prices come down and drinking habits change", the secretary-general of the Indian chapter of the International Spirits and Wines Association, Sunil Mehdiratta, told Hindustan Times.
India currently imports 120,000 cases of wine annually. Of this, 47 per cent is imported from France and the rest from various other countries including the United States, Chile and South Africa.