In a move that is aimed at providing a larger domestic market for wine producers and grape farmers, the Maharashtra cabinet on Thursday allowed walk-in stores and supermarkets of over 100 square metres in the state to sell wine stored on their shelves. The shops will need a wine sale licence and will only be able to sell to customers with a liquor permit.
Until now, supermarkets with a liquor licence had been allowed to sell wine and beer in the state. However, these had to be displayed inside a separate enclosure. Several large supermarket sold wine in this manner for several years.
The latest decision of the state cabinet will allow smaller shops to also sell wine without requiring a separate enclosure. “This will help smaller vineyards and brands that cannot market their product to have access to a larger market. It will boost the wine industry in the state,” said a senior government official.
State skill development minister Nawab Malik said, “This will help grape farmers in the state to widen their market and get a better price for their produce. ”
Although Maharashtra is the leading wine producer in the country, domestic wine sales are poor and are dominated by a few brands. The state produces roughly 1. 7 crore litres of wine per year, of which only 70 lakh is sold domestically, officials said. Wine in the state is produced through fruits, flowers, bananas and honey.
The opposition has slammed the move. “We won’t allow Maharashtra to become Madya-Rashtra (a liquor state),” said leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis.
The cabinet decision specifies that the shops selling wine will have to be located at a distance from educational and religious institutions. This decision will not be implemented in districts which have a liquor ban. The shops will need to have a cupboard measuring 2.5 cubic metres, with a lock. The licence for the sale of wine in walk-in stores and supermarkets will be worth Rs 5,000. The shops will also have to have a license under the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments Act, 2017.
Wine producers have welcomed the move. “This will improve wine production and sales by 20%-30%,” said Jagdish Holkar, president of the All India Wine Producers Association. He said the state has 70 wineries and around10,000 people involved in the trade.
Several small stores said they were uncomfortable with the idea of selling liquor. Some said it went against the idea of what kirana stores typically sell and their owners would not permit it.