The International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) has announced through its social media channels that Albania has officially become its 50th member state. The country possesses more than 11,000 hectares of vineyards and, as per OIV statistics, holds the 41st position among the world's largest wine producers and the 55th in terms of wine consumption globally. However, a significant portion of the cultivated grapes is sold as table grapes or raisins, or processed into the national spirit known as "Raki rrushi."
"Albania can look back on a winemaking history that dates back to ancient times. The diverse microclimatic conditions of our country create a terroir that produces unique local grape varieties, which are becoming increasingly popular and have become a strength of Albanian winemakers," stated Frida Krifca, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, as quoted by OIV.
Albania's winemaking tradition likely stretches back at least to the Etruscan-Illyrian era, well before the Roman colonial period. The country is home to numerous indigenous grape varieties, although some are threatened with extinction. The majority of wines are produced and consumed in the predominantly Catholic regions of the country. However, even the Muslims of the Bektashi Order are permitted to consume and produce wine due to their religious history. A former Dervish of the order is attributed with the following quote: "What we cannot eat, we crush and store it in wooden barrels. And what happens next is Allah's will alone."
The membership followed after Ukraine joined the OIV in October 2022. Both countries can now benefit from information, cooperation, and a global network of about 1,000 experts, which supports fundamental decisions.