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Red wine is passé. Raise a toast to date palm wine from Rajasthan

Rajasthan will soon be producing date palm wine made through a process of natural fermentation. And coming up soon after are pomegranate and citrus wine.

more lifestyle Updated: Jul 20, 2017 11:52 IST
P Srinivasan
P Srinivasan
Hindustan Times
Fruit wine,India,Pomegranate wine
Date palm wine will be made from the Barhi variety of date in Rajasthan.(Shutterstock)

Wine lovers, take note. Rajasthan will become the first state in the country to produce wine from date palm. A winery set up near Mount Abu in Sirohi district in southern Rajasthan will later develop wine from pomegranate and citrus fruits also.

Agriculture minister Prabhu Lal Saini said the winery has been established as per an MoU signed during Global Rajasthan Agritech Meet (GRAM) in 2016 in Jaipur. “We changed the excise policy of the state to set up the winery. We will soon have wineries for pomegranate and citrus fruits,” he said.

Gujarat date farmer Harpreet Singh (30) has set up the winery in Rajasthan. He said he could not set it up in his native state because Gujarat is a dry state.

Harpreet Singh at the date palm winery in Rajasthan. ( HT Photo )

Date palm farming began in Rajasthan in 2007-08 when the state imported around 21,294 tissue culture raised saplings from the UAE. Cultivation was done on 135 hectares of government farms in Jaisalmer and Bikaner. Next year, the saplings were given at a subsidised rate to farmers in 12 districts across arid desert regions of northwestern Rajasthan, such as Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Hanumangarh, Sri Ganganagar, Nagaur, Pali, Jalore, Jhunjhunu, Sirohi and Churu.

Interestingly, date palms take 4 to 8 years to bear fruit.Rajasthan grows seven varieties of dates — Barhi, Khunezi, Medjool, Khadrawy, Khalas, Zamli and Saggai — on 840 hectares. The yield this year was around 1,600 tonnes.“We will make wine from the Barhi variety of date as it has to be consumed as a fresh fruit. The other varieties can be dried and made into pind khajoor,” said Singh, adding that the wine will be made through natural fermentation and no spirit will be added.

The winery plant is also expected to boost tourism in Rajasthan. Tourists can come and view the process of manufacturing and even do wine tastings.

Singh said that the Peasants Food Processing and Winery Pvt Ltd set up its plant at Abu Road with a capacity of 1.20 lakh litres every year. The winery is ready and awaiting a license from the excise department to commence production.While dates are available for only 15-20 days a year, Singh plans to make wine from pomegranates as well.

Singh is seeking exemption from the excise duty from the government. “States such as Karnataka, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh have done that for fruit wines,” he said, adding that the winery will consume less water as compared to a distillery. The plant will consume about 3,000 litres of water every day as compared to roughly 100,000 litres in distilleries.And the waste from the winery will be used as manure.

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First Published: Jul 20, 2017 11:51 IST