Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mahalaxmi Infra forays into wine production

Hyderabad-based Mahalaxmi Infra Ventures (India) Private Limited (Yarlagadda Harish chandra Prasad, Chairman & MD) is foraying into wine production by acquisition of Bhanodaya Wineries and its 70-acre vineyard in Tavaragiri village of Koppal district in Karnataka. Chigurupati Krishna Prasad, chairman of Granules India, a city-based pharmaceutical company, also has a 49 per cent stake in the joint venture.

Mahalaxmi Infra proposes to invest Rs 10 crore in two phases for setting up a 600,000-litre per annum capacity winery and development of grape farms over an extent of 300 acres in Tavaragiri.

The first phase of 300,000 litre capacity winery and 150 acre vineyard will be completed in two years, Mahalaxmi group chairman, Y Harish Chandra Prasad, told Business Standard.

According to Prasad, Bhanodaya Wineries was set up by Anil Kumar, an engineering graduate who had taken up grape farming. Mahalaxmi has acquired the 100,000-litre per annum capacity winery even before it commenced production. Now, the total project has been revamped and new machinery will be installed to meet modern production process and to enhance capacity. Anil Kumar will continue to be associated with the winery as its chief executive officer.

He said only red wine from three varieties of grapes including Cabernet and Siraj would be produced at the winery. The samples of the three varieties have now been sent to the Indian Institute of Horticulture, Bangalore, for testing their suitability for wine making.

Prasad is hopeful that like in the case of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, the Karnataka government will also soon put wine under the horticulture and food processing category and remove it from the ambit of the state excise Act.

Such a measure would be helpful not only in ensuring remunerative prices to grape growers but also in discouraging consumption of hard liquor by people at large. People are expected to shift to wine consumption as it would become cheaper.

At the same time, farmers would get a better price for their produce as the demand for grapes would increase with the rise in wine production. “Once this project is successful, we will encourage and also support farmers in setting up vineyards,” he said.

Besides wine making, the company’s plans include promotion of vineyard tourism in future. For this purpose, Mahalaxmi intends to construct guest houses at the place. “With moderate climate and picturesque scenes, we are hopeful that vineyard tourism will pick up in a big way,” Prasad said.
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