Thiruvananthapuram: Nila, Kerala’s own wine brand, is slated to hit the markets, as oenophiles could soon taste premium quality fruit wine at affordable prices. The brand has received approvals from the Maharashtra-based Sula wine yard - the country’s leading wine manufacturer, as well as the Grape and Wine Board of the Karnataka government, paving the way for its official launch. It has been developed by the Post-Harvest Department of the Kerala Agricultural University, which recently obtained the state’s first wine-making license from the Excise Department.
In the first batch of 500 bottles rolled out by Nila, most have been delivered directly to the ministers, department heads, and other VIPs. According to Dr B Ashok, Principal Secretary to the Department of Agriculture and Vice-Chancellor of the Kerala Agricultural University, the bottles would be sold through the Beverages Corporation upon completing the formalities. The winery in the varsity, which has the capacity to produce 125 litres, is currently manufacturing wines using bananas, cashew apple, pineapple, etc. Dr Saji Gomez, Head of the Post-Harvest department here, said the unit required seven months to produce wine on a commercial scale. While it may take one month to ferment the fruit syrup, another six months will be required for preparing and refining the same. Currently, only Maharashtra and Karnataka have formulated state-specific wine policies.
The Karnataka government even runs a wine board, which has testified Nila as a high-quality product in its examination. To be marketed as a premium quality product, Nila will cost around Rs 1000 for a 750 ml bottle. As part of augmenting the production capacity, the authorities have entrusted the Kerala Agro-Business Company (KABCO), under the Agriculture Department, to establish a Horti-winery with a capacity of 1000 litres in Thiruvananthapuram.