Albanian wine

Viticulture in Albania can look back on a long history, but still experiencing difficult times. The quantities produced wine with a volume of 17,000 tonnes ( 2007) rather modest. A majority of the 105,000 tons (2007) harvested grapes are unprocessed sold as table grapes or for Albanian National Schnapps Raki rrushi processed and other by-products. From a maximum of 20,000 hectares cultivated area at the end of communism in the early 1990s in 2006 more than 7,000 to 8,000 acres was still used; the total area is, however, strongly increasing. [Note 1]


The region of present-day Albania was probably one of the few refuges of the vine during the Ice Age. Already in pre-Roman times and before the Greek colonization wine was made here: The Illyrians produced during the Etruscan - Illyrian Vitikultur early as the 8th century BC wine regardless of the neighboring peoples. The oldest seeds found in the region 4000 to 6000 years old. Various historical figures - including those dating from the 2nd century BC and the mosaic in the Baptistery of Butrint from the 6th century - evidence of the social significance of the wine. The wine was primarily consumed domestically.

In Ottoman times the wine experienced a decline, but he could at least keep some in Christian-dominated areas. After independence, the wine soon gained wide spread, but was stopped in 1933 by phylloxera.

A significant upswing again until after the Second World War, at the end of which wine was still only grown on 2737 hectares. Especially around Durres was grown on communist state enterprises, which occupied a large part of the land in this county wine. The statewide acreage corresponded approximately to that of tobacco, but was significantly lower than that of olive and fruit trees. 40 percent of the production came from the state-owned enterprises, but only took 20 percent of the acreage. A large part of the area was owned by the village cooperatives. With more than 30 percent of production accounts for a good part to private pergolas. The wine was consumed at this time primarily in Germany. The export decreased with time continuously from 61,000 hectoliters in 1971 from 22,000 hectoliters in 1985. The reasons are to be sought primarily in outdated production conditions and inadequate technical material, which made ​​it difficult to transport and lowered their quality. Increasingly, the export was from easy to be transported raisins ( up to 3,500 tons a year), while the export of fresh grapes was marginal. Both the raisins as well as the wine country of origin Albania has rarely been specified correctly. From 20,000 hectares of vines then 70 % for the production of wine were used. , Up to 450 000 hectoliters per year. Among the most common varieties were also foreign Merlot, cabernet, pinot noir, Sangiovese and Riesling; together with sweet wines and two sparkling wines were produced. Although the grape production in the Albanian agriculture took an important role, she was of the policies and authorities marginalized hushed up. As wine consumption is little compatible with the target image of a communist ideal society, the wine was usually mentioned only in passing in passing.

Many of these crops survived the transition to a market economy is not in good condition: The acreage was previously a multiple of today. Many vineyards were destroyed or abandoned. Only gradually in the late 1990s several farmers started again with the professional wine, so that today local wines are available in the country again. In order to meet the high demand for vines, but imported varieties were grown mainly from neighboring countries. In the crisis year 1997 was produced according to official figures, only 4,300 hectares of vineyards.

The large state-owned wine production company in Durres was privatized only in 2001.

Growing regions and grape varieties

Vines are cultivated practically throughout the country. There are four vegetation zones: the coastal plain from north to south, the hill zone with heights up to 600 meters - including for example the Mirdita in the north, Elbasan and Librazhd in Central Albania and Gramsh and Përmet in the south - and the Vorgebirgszonen to 800 meters as Pogradec, Korca, Dibra and Leskovik. Chance can be found up to 1000 or even 1300 meters vines in higher regions.

Among the most important wine producing regions include various traditional Catholic majority areas around Shkodra (for example, the village Kallmet ), the hills around the capital Tirana (for example, the village Lunder ), especially the region of Berat and the regions of Durres, Korca and Lushnja. In coastal areas wine was often grown in the plain, in the south part applied on artificial terraces.

Since the socio -economic factors of Albania did not allow for straightforward development of viticulture, who can get ( autochthonous species) in the land of old varieties that survive in small, local varieties. Local grape varieties are especially the white wines Pules, Debin e Bardhë and Shesh i Bardhë and the reds Debin e Zeze, Kallmet, Serina, Shesh i zi and Vlosh. Among the less widely used, partly endangered species include Bishtdhelpra, Gomaresha, Mereshnik, Kryqëz, Maltež and Tajka.

The white and the red Shesh grape, originally from the village of the same name in the hill country west of Tirana make, along with the most common varieties of up to 35 %. For the Turkish period the wine was suppressed in this region. During the communist rule of the red Shesh was - also known as Galeçik - grown throughout the country up to heights of 800 meters. The grape copes well with drought and promises good harvest. It has been grown in the Mirdita on marly - limestone soils and in the coastal central Albania on loamy- sandy or sandy soils. In Western Europe, the white grape has been sold in part as Riesling. The Kallmet grape, probably originating as a variant of the kadarka origin from the region of Shkodrasees is closely connected to the same village in the Zadrima plain south of Shkodra. The grape is native to all coastal hill regions of northern Albania, but is also planted in central and southern Albania. In Albania, for new varieties are bred. It prefers calcareous kieselsäurige and gravel soils. For the communist period the wine was partly exported as Merlot in the GDR and Poland. The Pules grapes came from central and southern Albania and is mainly grown in gardens and used to Raki. The wine Vlosh is a specialty from the village Narta north of Vlora, which Debina grape one from the southeastern parts of the country. The Serina grape comes from the hilly region on the western edge of the Korçë level. In addition, there are other local specialties such as Leskoviku Vere, Vere Përmeti, each named after their region of origin.

Today, 13% of the Albanian farms build (20,000 farms ) on a portion of the area farmed wine. However, the acreage often be only a few hundred square meters, rarely more than 3,000. Across all regions of the country, vines found in almost every garden, even in urban areas. Frequently, for their own consumption produced house wines and grape juices, but more importantly the Albanians of Raki is rrushi -called high-proof grape marc, is used for the estimated 50% of the grape production. Raki has in Albanian society at festivals and receiving guests an important role and is often combined with toasts and congratulations. Rarely, also referred to as Konjac Skënderbeu brandy, the fermented grape syrup Pekmez, raisins and vinegar are produced. For the wine production of 20% of the harvested grapes are used.

Economic factors

Albanian wine is exported hardly. The domestic wine consumption is not particularly high with three liters per capita per year.

There is a lack of trained specialists in Albania. The production techniques of many growers who possessed no expertise, and state control will be judged by observers as inappropriate and unacceptable. It is often the case that the content does not match the label.

A ban on planting as many traditional wine producing countries in Europe does not know Albania. The state and international development organizations promote the expansion of viticulture. However, the selection of soil and grapes often lacks any scientific criteria. On the other hand, there is a lack of offspring of native indigenous species.