On August 16, 2023, Albania achieved a historic milestone by becoming the 50th member of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV). This achievement signifies a significant step forward for Albania and the entire Balkan region, as it promises to boost the development of the country’s wine culture, industry, and potential while also contributing to the broader goals of the Open Balkan Initiative.
Albania boasts a rich winemaking heritage that spans an astonishing 4,000 years, with historical records of Illyrians cultivating grapes and producing wine. This enduring tradition has persevered through various historical eras, including the Roman and Byzantine Empires, the Ottoman rule, and even the tumultuous times of World War II and the communist regime. Throughout all these periods, Albanian winemakers demonstrated their resilience and passion for wine.
Over the last three decades, Albania’s vine and wine sector has experienced steady growth. The area of vineyards has expanded from 2,776 hectares in 2010 to an impressive 7,442.3 hectares in 2021, with 5,954.8 hectares dedicated to wine production and 1,488 hectares to table grapes. This remarkable expansion is a testament to the dedication and hard work of Albanian winemakers.
What was once small-scale production has now blossomed into established wineries capable of not only ensuring quantity but also delivering exceptional quality. Albania is now home to 70 registered wineries, of which more than 20 are significant players in the industry. These wineries have embraced autochthonous grape varieties like Kallmet, Shesh (both white and red), Serine, Debinë (white and red), Puls, Cërrujë, and Vlosh, which are gaining recognition for their unique terroir and aromas.
In addition to indigenous grapes, Albania’s climate and terrain have proven favorable for international grape varieties such as Merlot, Muskat, Riesling, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The diverse range of grape varieties contributes to the richness and complexity of Albanian wines.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Albania has played a crucial role in supporting the vine and wine sector. Viticulture and wine production have been included in the National Support Scheme, and efforts have been made to harmonize Albanian laws and regulations with those of the European Union. The recent approval of Law No. 86/2022 for Viticulture and Wine in the Albanian parliament signifies a significant milestone in regulating the sector and expanding export opportunities.
Albania’s admission to the OIV is a cause for celebration and satisfaction as it represents the nation’s commitment to protecting its historic winemaking history, supporting its expanding wine sector, and maximizing its enormous potential on the global wine scene.
Congratulations to Albania’s bright potential in the world of wine!