Shillong, Nov 9: Like every year, wine lovers got a taste of local wine made of locally grown fruits, this year too.
It was the 17th year where home-made wines were on display for sale at the 17th Shillong Wine Festival organized by the Forever Young Club at the State Central Library premises here on Saturday.
As many as 11 home-brewers from all over the state participated at the festival.
Amid inclement weather, this one-of-its-kind festival saw people including tourists thronging the place to taste varieties of wines.
Among the famous fruit wines on display were apricot, ginger, mulberry fruit, strawberry, passion fruit, blackberry, pineapple, guava, plum, banana, jackfruit, Roselle, sticky rice and cashew apple.
The packaging has also improved and the clarity of home-brewed wines has become better. However, most brewers make wine as a hobby with the state government yet to realize the potentialities that it has in promoting horticulture, tourism and revenue of the state.
“The wine we make is only for family and friends, not for commercial purposes,” says one of the local wine makers.
The Meghalaya Association of Wine Makers (MMAW) has been demanding from the state government to legalize wine making for the past 17 years, which is yet to materialise.
“There are many people who are into wine making and now the ball is in the court of the government to legalize wine making and make it into an industry,” President of the association, Michael Syiem said.
He said that if legalized, wine making would go a long way in boosting horticulture, employment opportunity to educated unemployed youths and generate revenue for the government.
Syiem recalled that the only time when the government seems to be interested in recognizing wine making was during the time of former Excise Minister, AT Mondal.
According to Syiem, Mondal had sent Excise officials to states like Mizoram but after him, there has been no initiative.
Syiem said that the chief minister, Conrad K Sangma has assured the association to take wine making forward.
Syiem said that the Association was also waiting for a report from microbiologist, Dr Amanda Shylla, who is currently doing a study on food safety of different wines.
“We would take this report to the government so that it can go ahead in legalizing wine making in the state,” he said.
Syiem stressed that all food products have to meet food safety standards to be able to get registration and legalization.