Kerala all set to promote fruit wine under new liquor policy

Thiruvananthapuram: The new liquor policy being framed by the Kerala Government is expected to allow production of fruit wine. According to the draft of the new policy, the wine will be procured and distributed by the Kerala State Beverages Corporation Ltd (BEVCO). Under the policy, licences will be granted to set up wineries. The procedures for issuing the licences would be similar to those followed for distilleries.

Fruit wine denotes a fermented beverage made with a fruit juice base that is not grape juice.

The new plan is aimed at supporting farmers in the state. The existing abkari laws and excise rules have no mention about wine prepared from fruits, government authorities stated.

It is to overcome this shortfall that the definition of ‘fruit wine’ is being introduced in the law, they added.

“The final legislation will include details on procurement, requirements to earn the licence, amount of wine that could be stored, tax structure and alcohol content in the wine,” said an official.

An amendment in the rules to include fruit wine was first proposed during the term of the first Pinarayi Vijayan government based on a study report of the Kerala Agricultural University.

Wine from pineapple, banana, cashew and nutmeg

The new policy would stress on producing wine from crops widely cultivated in the state such as pineapple, banana, cashew and nutmeg. After deciding to implement the new policy, the government had approached the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratory in Thiruvananthapuram to develop a common technology to produce fruit wine. However, CSIR’s response was that it needed government funding and one year for the purpose.

As a result, the government is presently considering a proposal to allow private companies to develop their own methods to brew the wine and announce a quality standard for the products. Incidentally, along with various firms, Bevco too has expressed interest in manufacturing wine.

Brewing wine at home illegal

A few days ago, representatives of the All-India Wine Producers’ Association had met the state officials with a request to promote wine-making in Kerala. However, according to the Kerala Abkari Laws, brewing of any product containing alcohol at home and selling it is an offence. It is pointed out that even if fruit wine is included in the new liquor policy, producing it at home could invite legal action.

Pubs in IT areas

Another likely proposal in the new policy is to allow opening of pubs and wine parlours in areas with significant presence of Information Technology firms and professionals. An indication to this effect was given by the Chief Minister himself in the Legislative Assembly a while ago.

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