By Aynur Jafarova
Azerbaijan is planning to gain more shares of world's vine market. It comes after the country joins the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV).
Agriculture Ministry's Department Head Sabir Veliyev made the remark at a session of the Agrarian Policy Committee of the Azerbaijani Parliament on January 29.
Veliev recalled that a prohibition law adopted by the Soviet leadership in 1985 on vine production has destroyed the viticulture industry in Azerbaijan.
"Before the adoption of this law, the country produced about two million tons of grapes per year, which provided 40-45 percent of Azerbaijan SSR's GDP," he noted.
Veliyev went on to note that in 2013, Azerbaijan harvested 150,000 tons of grapes. However, Azerbaijan intends to return to its past production capacity.
The Agrarian Policy Committee has handed the draft law on Azerbaijan's joining to OIV to the parliament for further consideration.
OIV is an intergovernmental organization of a scientific and technical nature of recognized competence for its works concerning vines, wine, wine-based beverages, table grapes, raisins and other vine-based products.
As one of the main wine producers in the Caspian Sea region, Azerbaijan has an ancient history of winemaking, which is proven by archeological findings in different regions of the country. Azerbaijan has all the natural conditions -mountainous terrain and close location to the Caspian Sea- for the development and expansion of winemaking.
Among the grape varieties used to produce Azerbaijani wine are Pinot Noir, Rkatsiteli, Pinot Blanc, Aligote, Matrassa, Podarok Magaracha, Pervenets Magaracha, Ranni Magaracha, Doina, Viorica, and Kishmish Moldavski.
Local grape varieties in Azerbaijan include White Shani, Derbendi, Nail, Bayanshire, Gamashara, Ganja Pink, Bendi, Madrasa, Black Shani, Zeynabi, Misgali, Khindogni, Agdam Kechiemdzheyi, Tebrizi, and Marandi.
Azerbaijan produces 200-300 types of wine. The wine brands used in Azerbaijan are Shahdagh, Chinar, Sadili, Aghdam, Kurdamir, Agstafa, and Madrasali.
Wine is produced in several regions of Azerbaijan. Vineyards are found at the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains and in the Kur-Araz lowlands. Ganja, Nagorno-Karabakh, Shirvan, and Nakhchivan have emerged as centers of wine production in Azerbaijan in the 21st century.
Currently, there are nearly 10 wineries and vineyards that produce wine in the country. The largest one is Vinagro, created in 2006. Exports to other countries are steadily growing due to the good quality of Azerbaijani wine products.
Most of these products are currently destined for Russian and European markets. Since the restoration of Azerbaijan Azerbaijan's independence in 1991, the Azerbaijani wines have won 27 prizes at international competitions.