Wine-making attracts tourists in Meghalaya

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Shillong, Nov 11 (UNI) The four-year-old wine festival, is gaining popularity, with tourists flocking the picturesque capital city of Meghalaya, even as Europe's wine connoisseurs salute the indigenous Khasi people for brewing the best homemade wine.

'Shillong Wine Festival' organised by Forever Young Sports Club (FYSC), is based exclusively on local horticulture products - passion fruits, bananas, pears, plums, pineapple, strawberries, gooseberries, jackfruit and ginger.

The art of brewing the best wine has now become a source of fame and fortune for some of the home-made wine breweries.

''The festival has revived the cottage industry of brewing fruit wine. Over the past few years, we had wasted fruits worth thousands of rupees because of our ignorance,'' wine-maker John Mario Sohtun said.

Ionis, a tourist from Sweden, who is presently in Shillong, only to taste the homemade wine said, ''I have heard only about militant activities in the North East, but today I am lucky to sip the differnt varieties of homemade wines here.'' With Meghalaya's scenic beauty, such festival would surely attract tourists to visit the land of abode of clouds.

We prefer home-made food and wine and nothing to that, Brigid, a student from USA said.

Local wine maker John M S Kharkongor, for whom wine-making is a hobby, opined that Meghalaya government should declare wine making a cottage industry.

''The government should promote homewine-making so that wine made of locally grown fruits can be exported outside the state,'' Mr Khongwir said.

Another wine-maker, Dr Julian Laloo said that Meghalaya, which is rich in Horticultural products, wine would in turn encourage the farming community to concentrate more fruits trees.

''We see a lot of fruits wasted, especially in rural areas as they grow in abundance. In this context, the wine festival is a forum to exhibit and sell the home made wine made of surplus local fruits,'' FYSC member Micheal Syiem said.

Union Minister of States for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahai, who visited the state said India ''wasted, every year, a whopping amount of Rs 50,000 crore of fruits and vegetables due to lack of processing and value addition.

He urged the northeast to focus on the emerging opportunities and submit plans to his ministry with clear industrial food processing policy in order to avail of the various schemes offered by the Ministry Food Processing Industries.

UNI

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