Bulgaria's Grape Expectations - Blighted and Boosted by Dry Weather

Business | September 17, 2012, Monday // 10:21|  views

Bulgaria’s grape crop this year is high quality, even though not as abundant as last year, according to Krassimir Koev, head of the executive agency for vine and wine. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Wine may have been one of Bulgaria's rare success stories in the past, but the industry faces an uphill struggle this year with grape crop seen at 30% lower than expected.

The gloomy forecast comes after a summer of droughts that damaged a large part of the crop. The good news for wine producers is that the sun has pushed the level of the sugar in the grape and consequently its quality up.

"The cold winter was followed by long drought, which dealt a heavy blow to the sector. Yet there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This year's grape crop is high quality, even though not as abundant as last year," Krassimir Koev, head of the executive agency for vine and wine, said in an interview for the state-owned BTA news agency.

He forecast that the critical situation in the sector will push up the purchase price of grapes.

"The trend is already visible on the market. So farmers should not fret over the bad harvest as wholesalers' good prices will make up for it. This will allow them to cover their expenses for next year," said Koev.

Bulgaria's vineyards were nationalized in 1947 and belonged to state-owned co-operatives whose main market was Russia.

In the mid-eighties Bulgaria became the world's second biggest exporter of bottled wine, with sales to the UK 30 times that of Australia.

But Bulgaria's viticulture and the wines suffered greatly in the wake of the country's disastrous privatisation programme after the collapse of Communism in 1989, according to experts.

Since then, in the run-up to Bulgaria joining the EU in 2007, huge investments were made in the sector and the quality has been transformed.

According to Koev wine drinkers around the world are rediscovering the great taste and competitive prices of Bulgarian grape varieties and happily venture beyond some reasonably well-known appellations and a handful of brands.

Russia remains the main market, but exports are also flowing to the Czech  Republic, Poland and Romania.

In October the country is about to launch negotiations for exporting wines to China too.

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Tags: grape, vine, wine, Bulgaria, Bulgarian


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