The Hindu: The ‘Naara-Aaba’ is from one of the few organic kiwi wineries located outside Switzerland, in Arunachal Pradesh’s Lower Subansiri district. But this fruit wine’s ability to find markets beyond the State hinges on whether the wine bottles can withstand the bad roads in the district. Thanks to Chinese bottles, the organic kiwi wine, launched in Arunachal Pradesh in October 2017, started retailing in Guwahati this week.

Lower Subansiri district accounted for 26{9e0e65e9e268d488dc0595a61598cf0118bf0796d0478de6385071c304d9c297} of the 9,428 tonnes of kiwi fruit (also known as Chinese gooseberry) that Arunachal Pradesh produced in 2016. But the kiwi boom around the Ziro Valley, headquarters of the district, came with a curse: bad roads and poor connectivity. This did not, however, deter Tage Rita Takhe, 37, from her mission to become a vintner. “My research told me that the only way to sustain kiwi farming is to set up a winery. I invested in the best of machinery and brought experts from Nashik. But finding the right bottle to market our product became a bottleneck,” she told The Hindu.

She went bottle-hunting across India. But the best on offer were not good enough. Her search ended in Mumbai, where an importer showed her a sample from Sichuan. “Great wine comes in great bottles. I found the Chinese bottle costlier than Indian bottles by ₹15, but they looked more elegant and premium. I ordered a consignment three months before our Naara-Aaba wine was launched in October 2017,” she said. The bottles were duly delivered to Kolkata. But it took her a month to find someone who could transport them to her village Hong, located 1,400 km away, at an altitude of 5,434 feet. She still had to pay the transporter double the charge. About 15{9e0e65e9e268d488dc0595a61598cf0118bf0796d0478de6385071c304d9c297} of the over 40,000 bottles came crushed. “I cried, not for the bottles that came in powdered form, but for the intact ones that would carry my dream project,” she said.

Unloading the bottles was another challenge. A job that takes an hour elsewhere took her five days. “The transporter vowed never to return because of the treacherous stretch to my village. I don’t know how and when I would be able to get the rest of the bottles lying in a warehouse in Kolkata,” she said. Her winery has exhausted 60{9e0e65e9e268d488dc0595a61598cf0118bf0796d0478de6385071c304d9c297} of the bottles she received. Production will stop if the next consignment does not arrive in two months.

A big bottle of Naara-Aaba retails at ₹1,200 in Arunachal and ₹1,500 in Assam, while the smaller bottle is priced ₹600 and ₹800 respectively in the two States.