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Okt 02

Bulgaria expands grape plantings

Tag: Ländersigi.hiss @ 19:49

 by Elissaveta Velianova – Bulgaria’s Executive Agency on Vine and Wine last week revealed that as many as 6,200 hectares of new vineyards were planted and replanted, bringing the country’s total vineyard area to 136,000 by the end of 2007. This is good news for producers, as Bulgaria has long suffered shortage of sufficient quantity and quality grapes, in contrast to the grape glut experienced in traditional EU countries.While 23,000 hectares of the Bulgaria’s vineyards are abandoned, the recent increases constitute 5% of the total vineyard area and most new plantings were created under different pre and post-EU accession funds. Despite disparate quality of new plantings, most of the new vineyards are in a better condition than the core ones and grapes are used to fuel producers‘ mid and high priced ranges. In terms of varietal structure, investors have taken the safe route – 54% are taken up by the international classics trio of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. The indigenous variety Mavrud is ranked fourth with 7%.

The majority of the Bulgarian vineyards were planted in the 1960s and 1970s. Export orientation towards fellow East European countries within the COMECON block determined the manner in which vineyards were planted. Terroir influence was not a leading variable in the equation, trellising was executed in a manner to allow mechanisation and the production of quite generous yields. In the beginning of the mid-1980s Gorbachev’s attempt to curb alcohol consumption in the former USSR led to the first blow to the Bulgarian wine industry. The second blow came with the demise of socialism in 1989 and following privatisation of agricultural land.
Many of the current problems that the Bulgarian wine industry faces are grounded in the fragmentation of land that followed the return to original owners and this is the reason why vineyard creation is crucial to the country. The thirst for grapes will certainly not be quenched by these mere 6200 ha and the country will continue to rely on EU funding to renew its viticultural potential, which will include both new plantings and vineyard renewal.

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