They want to make it out of pears, currants and cherries. Wine production is developing in Poland, and wine enjoys increasing consumer recognition. Grape harvest from 400 Polish vineyards enables production of approx. 700 000 bottles, and the demand definitely exceeds the supply.
Therefore, there are plans to reach for popular Polish fruit such as pears, currants or cherries, which have not been used in winemaking so far. They can be made into high-grade wine, provided that a stringent definition of this product appears in the law to prevent any shortcuts in the production process. This is what the recently established Zamość Vineyards Foundation (Fundacja Winiarnie Zamojskie) is supposed to endeavour to do; it will also support Polish winemakers and local vineyards.
“The climate is changing, which has many disadvantages, but one advantage is the fact that the climate boundary of viticulture is moving north. Poland, with its rather unfavourable conditions for wine production, may now develop as a winemaking country,” Robert Ogór, the President of AMBRA, stressed in an interview for the Newseria Biznes information agency. “Polish winemaking is developing very well from the consumers’ viewpoint as well. The market is growing because the consumers are increasingly interested.”
The wine market in Poland has been growing constantly for 10 years, at an average rate of 7% per annum, and is currently worth approx. PLN 2.1 billion [source verification needed]. The number of vineyards and local wine enthusiasts is growing as well. According to data from the National Support Centre for Agriculture, 230 wine producers and more than 400 vineyards were registered in Poland in 2019, with the total area cultivated exceeding 400 hectares. Grape harvest enables production of approx. 700,000 thousand bottles of Polish wines. This is much less than Polish consumers would like to buy.
“The demand today is much higher than the production capacities,” Robert Ogór says. “Polish wine is an expensive product, it is hard to find any below PLN 50. Nevertheless, the demand is so high that virtually all of it is sold. The vast majority of the quantities made in the small Polish vineyards reach restaurants or specialist stores, but there is not enough of them for super – or hypermarkets.”
He stresses that wine can be made not just of grapes but of other fine fruit, such as pears, currants, or cherries. Poland has large plantations of these fruit, which have not been used in winemaking so far.
“Fine white wine can be made of pear which has many interesting advantages. On the other hand, red fruit – redcurrant, blackcurrant or cherry – have an undiscovered potential for vinification as we know it from grape wines. The best discoveries in the area of the winemaking potential of Polish fruit are yet to come,” Robert Ogór says. “Fruit wines used to be produced on an industrial scale in the Communist era, but they had quite a poor reputation due to their quality. Today, we can speak of the rediscovery of Polish fruit in winemaking. This trend is to be promoted by the Zamość Vineyards Foundation we have established in the area of Roztocze, in the Zamość Region. The foundation supports local vineyards and development of high-level winemaking utilizing fine Polish fruit.
The Zamość Vineyards Foundation is to act in favour of the development of Polish winemaking and to provide support to local vineyards and fruit-growers. Under the current legal system, they have to face bureaucracy, unclear tax and insurance regulations, as well as difficult access to trade chains.
On the other hand, the foundation has been endeavouring to equalize the status of fruit wine with grape wine and to develop a stringent definition of this product to guarantee its quality. With appropriate promotion, wines made of fine fruit could gain popularity matching that enjoyed by craft beers today.
“Unlike winemakers, fruit-growers have no legal protection in the form of product definition for cider or fruit wine. Grape wine, on the other hand, has a very stringent legal definition. In order to produce and mark it as such, one has to comply with a wide range of prohibitions. You cannot add water to grape wine, you cannot perform fermentation on concentrates but on fresh fruit, you also cannot add sugar. This has enabled the creation of a sector strongly associated with farmers, in which they have advantage over big industries, this definition of a natural manner of production has essentially defended the entire wine sector against globalization. There is no such definition to protect wine made of other fruit,” Robert Ogór says.
He stresses that the first step should be the introduction of a stringent definition of fruit wines, based on fresh raw material and prohibition of use of additives and concentrates. Such regulations would provide a basis for building awareness and the image of products which would be attractive to consumers and simultaneously important to agriculture.
“Currently, the definition is too loose and allows too many actions that facilitate production and thus cheapen the product,” says the President of AMBRA. “Fine foodstuffs are the opposite of the strategy of cost competitiveness. In the case of such products as Spanish ham or French wines, production is legally made difficult, and consequently, more expensive. They do not compete with other foodstuffs through price but create the richness of their regions otherwise. Poland is lacking such strategies in the food sector in general and one of its greatest treasures, the Polish fruit, in particular. They can be processed into fine wines, provided that their definition directs the sector very clearly towards high-quality products and prevents any shortcuts.