The Telegraph
Sunday , November 11 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fest promotes local wines

Shillong, Nov. 10: Fruit wines are no longer confined to the tried and tested methods of wine-making, with innovations and novel experiments coming in thick and fast.

The 10th edition of Shillong Wine Festival, organised by Forever Young Club, today showcased the new varieties of fruit wines at Crinoline swimming pool here.

Apart from the usual wines made from grapes, sohiong (black berries), strawberry, pear, peach, pineapple, ginger, dates, guava, sohphie nam (myrica nagi), plum, passion fruit, watermelon and mulberry, wines made from coffee, orange, coconut, tomato, hibiscus, rice, celery and green tea were some of the new varieties showcased.

However, an outmoded British-era law has been a major hurdle for local wine makers, as it prohibits selling of such products in the open market.

The delay in revising Assam Excise Rules, 1945, has proved a hindrance for Lulu to sell her fruit wine in the market. But it has not deterred her from fermenting different fruit wines.

“The fruits are basically from Meghalaya but the fermentation process is done in Guwahati on a small scale. The processing is done in a modern way,” the owner of Lulu’s Homemade said.

Lulu said this is the first time she has made wine from hibiscus flower.

Visitors could also have a taste of fruit wines made by families at many stalls, with elders of the family selling their wares with passion.

Unlike the previous years, one could also witness the marked improvements in bottling and packaging of the fruit wines.

“This festival is the only of its kind in India. You will never see such varieties anywhere. A lot of progress has been made over the years,” Rajesh Swarnakar, a wine and spirit educator, said.

He appealed to the state government to put fruit wine manufacture under the ambit of small-scale industries and to lend support to local wine makers.

Forever Young Club president Michael N. Syiem, said it was surprising that a “dry” state like Mizoram could legalise fruit wine making but not a “wet” state like Meghalaya.

“For many years, we have been asking the government to legalise the manufacture of fruit wines. But till now, we have not received any positive response,” he said.

However, change could be on the horizon as the state tourism and horticulture departments came forward to sponsor the festival this year.

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