The wines division of United Spirits Limited (USL), a subsidiary of Vijay Mallya's UB Group, is planning to improve long-term partnerships with grape growers by offering them shares in the company.

"We want to enter into long term contracts with farmers and we would like them to join us as partners, therefore we are offering qualified farmers 500 shares per acre of grape-growing land owned," said Abhay Kewadkar, director of Four Seasons' Wines and Business Head for wine at USL.

The group has already selected 900 acres in the Baramathi area south of Pune, from around 1200 farmer applications received.

The qualification process involves checking the site's soil and irrigation facilities, the farmer's commitment in the long-term, and knowledge of grape growing.

The specifics of the shareholding, such as voting or non-voting and exit policy, have not yet been decided by the company, it said, however.

Separately, a senior source at USL today (9 October) strongly denied reports in the local media that the Spirits and Wines divisions of the company are to be integrated.