Why wine is fine

Friday, 14 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Agency: DNA

You could call it Nashik's very own version of Sunburn - a three day wine extravaganza with tasting, grape stomping, live kitchens, stunt shows and helicopter rides that begins today with the blessings of NCP strongmen Chhagan Bhujbal and Ajit Pawar. Of the country's total 92 wineries, Maharashtra's share is 74 of which Nashik - the wine capital of India - is home to as many as 36. All roads lead to Vinchur - an hours drive from Nashik- where 22 leading wineries try to recreate the feel and flavour of grape harvest festivals held in Italy, France and Spain - we're sure Union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who nurses a large constituency of grape growers in Maharashtra, would approve. While none of these politicians has any direct stake in the wine business, their families command great influence in the business - Pawar's family, including elder brother Prataprao Pawar, nephew Ranjit Pawar and son-in-law Sadanand Sule had led local wine growers to pick up a major stake in Four Seasons Wines which they recently sold to Mallya's United Spirits. In Bhujbal's case, his son Pankaj is connected to four major wine makers including Bhujbal Wines, Shiraz Vineyards, Chandrai Vineyards and Armstrong Winery, which are among the participants in this weekend's festivities. This effort also seems to be the first step towards Ajit Pawar's ambitious dream to set up wine and food plazas along the Nashik-Aurangabad highway. The Pawar family had led the wine growers of Baramati, the home turf of Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar, to buy a 49% in the JV. Pawar's elder brother Prataprao Pawar, nephew Ranjit Pawar and son-in-law Sadanand Sule were represented on the board at the time of deal. From what we hear, Sharad Pawar - who had once famously declared that he wanted "wine to flow like cola" in India - will be flying down himself for the inauguration today. We just wish some of this enthusiasm was shared by his party colleague and current Home Minister RR Patil who has almost single-handedly all but killed Mumbai's nightlife. Unfortunately, the city's restobars and nightclubs have no political pedigree.

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