The government's recent amendment of the excise act to allow malls and stores to sell wine has no takers
TRADERS and shop-owners are not exactly whooping with joy at the idea of selling wine in general stores and malls.
Last week, the government amended the Karnataka Excise (Lease of Rights to Retail Vend of Wine) Rules to allow the setting up of boutiques to sell wine. Shopping malls, supermarkets and multiplexes are among those allowed to have boutiques.
According to Dr B Krishna, managing director, Karnataka Wine Board, the idea of selling wine in retail shops was to encourage grape growers.
But shop owners' response has been less than enthusiastic. "We are not considering selling wine in our shops because people don't like to see liquor in their shopping cart," said M R Nandeesh, manager, Garuda Mall.
Shalamma, manager at FoodWorld in Gandhi Bazaar, said, "We are not sure how consumers will react to it, and secondly, margins on wine sales are thin. For a meagre profit, why should we lose the goodwill of consumers?" She added that though FoodWorld has a licence to sell liquor, only five of its 41 outlets are selling it as consumer response was not encouraging.
The government has not yet received any application for licences, a week after the announcement, despite offering it at a mere Rs 1,000 a year, compared to liquor licenses that cost lakhs.
Vanagiri Gowda, president, Wine Merchants' Association, says that's because the idea's impractical. "When all drinks are available in liquor shops, who will go to a general store to buy only wine," he wanted to know.
But the authorities are undeterred and feel the situation will improve soon. "We have not received any application, but that doesn't mean people are not interested," said Dr Krishna. "It needs awareness and the Wine Mela to be held at Lal Bagh will help." The three-day mela will start on July 10.
A Wine-Wine Situation
From July 10th, Lal Bagh will turn venue for the Wine Mela, organised by none other than the Karnataka government's Wine Board.
An attempt to encourage grape farming in the state, the mela promises to have something for everyone.
It seeks to educate farmers about grape cultivation, industrialists about the prospects and methods of wine production, and the general public about, we presume, the delights of the drink itself.
As a business proposition, winemaking has great potential given the increasing preference for quality local wines in the domestic market. Recent measures made by the government to promote wine production will be highlighted. Some of India's best-known wine manufacturers will be present with their bubbly offerings, promising to make the event a connoisseur's delight.