Asia

In Rajasthan, Plans to Introduce Wine Made From Olive Leaves

Indian olive entrepreneurs plan to produce what may be the world's first olive wine in Rajasthan.

Aug. 26, 2019
By Julie Al-Zoubi

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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