Wine was taboo in Titari village in Madhya Pradesh’s Ratlam district, until a group of farmers planted wine-quality grapes and set up their own winery.
Today, the winery, which produces 10 different blends of red wine, has changed the lives of 150 families who are either cultivating grapes or are associated with the process of making wine.
“Last year, the wine production was 80,000 litre, and this year it will cross 1.07 lakh litre,” Jitendra Patidar, who started the venture, told Hindustan Times.
The only graduate in the village, Patidar holds a postgraduate diploma in wine technology from Pune. He has been to Califorina to learn the intricacies of wine making.
“Next on our agenda are sparkling wine and white wine, and we will soon put the plan in motion,” he said.
It took Patidar some time to beat down the stigma attached to growing “daru ke angoor” - the wine producing grapes like Shiraz - and convince villagers that wine was not liquor but just a processed food product.
The region has been known for a wide variety of horticulture crops but table grapes were only introduced in the 1980s. “Inspired by some farmers in Maharashtra, my uncle, Ambaram Patidar started growing table grape in 1985. In the mid-2000s we started growing wine grapes and then launched the winery in 2007,” he said.
However, it was not a smooth riding. Farmers, including members of Patidar’s family had to make frequent trips to neighbouring villages of Maharashtra to learn how to grow grapes and brew wine. During 2003, when their vineyards bloomed, they applied to the government for permission for setting up a winery. It was rejected.
“In 2006, the MP government came out with a policy on grape processing, and without wasting any time we set up our enterprise - Patel Wines and Food Processing Industry,” he said.Ambi wines–named after Ambaram–is available in 16 outlets spread across the state, including Indore, Bhopal, and Khajuraho.
The value addition has not only increased their income but also brought the village on the global map, as experts from Australia, Europe and other places have visited the winery to explore business opportunities.
“We are also making rose wine and working on 25 new varieties. We will start exporting once we are able to scale up the production,” he said.
But his job is far from over. “Wine drinking is an alien concept in Madhya Pradesh. But I am sure that like pizza, people will take a liking to wine one day.”
Patidar is now looking for venture capital to expand operations and increase the grape cultivation in the region.
Wines include Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel, and Rose wine
There are 16 outlets across Madhya Pradesh
The future plan is to manufacture sparkling wine and white wine.
There are also plans to export wine to Australia and Europe.