A new bev­er­age is brew­ing amid the olive groves of Rajasthan, a state in north­west­ern India, where a team of olive experts say they have devel­oped the world’s first ever olive wine.

In an inter­view with Olive Oil Times, Yogesh Verma, COO of state-run Rajasthan Olive Cultivation Limited (ROCL) and inde­pen­dent olive grow­ing expert Yuval Chen explained more about their bold move into wine­mak­ing.

The olive wine ini­tia­tive will trans­form the lives of impov­er­ished farm­ers as post prun­ing waste will pro­vide an addi­tional source of income for Rajasthan’s olive grow­ers.- Yogesh Verma, COO of Rajasthan Olive Cultivation Limited

“No other olive pro­duc­ing coun­tries have devel­oped olive wine,” Verma said and out­lined how the ini­tia­tive would ben­e­fit impov­er­ished local farm­ers by improv­ing the econ­omy of the crop.

“The olive wine ini­tia­tive will trans­form the lives of Rajasthan’s olive farm­ers as post prun­ing waste will pro­vide an addi­tional source of income net­ting farm­ers $0.90 per kilo­gram ($1.98 per pound).” According to Verma, this was actu­ally greater than the value of olive oil for the state’s farm­ers and would also boost Rajasthan’s tourism-based econ­omy.

See more: India Olive Oil News

The duo spoke pas­sion­ately about their olive wine, which will be hand-crafted in Rajasthan from leaves of the desert state’s 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of olive trees and mar­keted as an exclu­sive Rajasthani bev­er­age.

While Verma hinted that the liquor was made from a vari­ety of olive leaves he insisted that the exact recipe remained a closely guarded secret until the prod­uct was patented.

“The patent­ing process has been started and pro­duc­tion of olive wine will com­mence as soon as the patent has been reg­is­tered,” he said. “Professional som­me­liers will be test­ing the olive wine to ensure it meets the gov­ern­ment of India’s exact­ing wine stan­dards.”

Verma added that he was per­son­ally impressed by the fla­vor of the olive wine and fore­saw it being con­sumed, “just like any other glass of wine.” He believes that the bev­er­age could become com­mer­cially avail­able within a year and may attract inter­est from the global wine indus­try.

The duo claimed that stud­ies on the prod­uct indi­cated that the nutraceu­ti­cal olive wine offered many of the same health ben­e­fits as olive oil includ­ing improv­ing heart health and low­er­ing cho­les­terol. Verma believes the bev­er­age has the poten­tial to become a nat­ural rem­edy for a num­ber of health con­di­tions and may even reduce the growth of skin can­cer.

“Polyphenols found in the leaves are believed to pro­tect against can­cer and other inflam­ma­tion related dis­eases whilst the high lev­els of antiox­i­dants are con­sid­ered ben­e­fi­cial for pre­vent­ing dia­betes and delay­ing cell aging,” he said. Further research on the olive wine’s pur­ported health ben­e­fits will be car­ried out by Tripura, Jiwaji and Manipal uni­ver­si­ties.

Chen has lent his exper­tise to the devel­op­ment of India’s olive indus­try since 2009 and described Rajasthan with its short win­ters as, “one of the globe’s most chal­leng­ing cli­mates for olive cul­ti­va­tion.”

He said farm­ers had bat­tled chal­leng­ing weather con­di­tions with low chill­ing hours dur­ing the win­ters of 2016/​17 and 2017/​18, fol­low­ing ten years of favor­able olive cul­ti­vat­ing con­di­tions.

Verma said his 2017 ini­tia­tive of pro­duc­ing olive leaf tea in Rajasthan had been a suc­cess with local farm­ers now pro­vid­ing suf­fi­cient leaves for the oper­a­tion of three large fac­to­ries, which man­u­fac­ture olive tea that is sold around the world.

From its first ten­ta­tive step into olive cul­ti­va­tion twelve years ago, ROCL’s olive enter­prise has extended to encom­pass 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of olive groves, which have to date pro­duced twelve tons of olive oil mar­keted under the brand name of RajOlive.

The duo expressed grat­i­tude to the gov­ern­ment of Rajasthan for fund­ing the research and devel­op­ment of the project which is a joint ven­ture between the gov­ern­ment of Rajasthan, Pune-based Finolex Palsson Industries and Israel’s Indolive Limited.

Future projects in Rajasthan’s olive pipeline include the man­u­fac­ture of olive vine­gar and cos­met­ics pro­duced from vit­a­min E and oleu­ropein-rich olive leaves to increase value.




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