Polish wines? Yes!
In Europe, France, Italy, Portugal and Georgia are countries associated with wine, not Poland. It is a pity, because Polish wine is of higher and higher quality, production is growing year by year, although it may not be impressive yet with its scale, but Polish producers know how to make a good wine.
There are 7.4 million hectares of vineyards in the world. In Poland - about 640 ha. So it’s 0.009 %. The first vineyards were established in western Poland - mainly due to the presence of Germanic influences and a better climate. Zielona Góra is considered to be the capitals of Polish winemaking.
The first Polish wines in larger production appeared at the beginning of this century. Then it was dynamic and today there are officially over 560 vineyards (about 330 of them sell their products) in Poland. Each vineyard produces 3 to 12 types of wine each year.
The National Agricultural Support Center (KOWR - Krajowego Ośrodka Wsparcia Rolnictwa) administers the national wine market. A producer, i.e. a natural or legal person who wants to make wine and sell it, must obtain an entry in the records of wine producers. These matters are regulated both by EU and national regulations.
Records are needed because the wine is subject to excise duty, and it is also necessary to control the methods of wine production, labeling and certification. Such records make it possible to monitor the potential of the wine market, on the basis of declarations submitted on estimates of wine production, end-of-marketing stocks, grape harvest and production. On its basis, the State Plant Health and Seed Inspection Service controls the cultivation of grapevines, because wine can only be produced from grape varieties permitted by EU law.
Wine production in Poland
According to the National Center for Agricultural Support in 2009–2020 the number of wine producers registered in the records kept by KOWR increased 16 times, the area under vines increased 15 times. At the same time, there was a 35-fold increase in wine production. 5 voivodeships are the leaders in wine production: Małopolskie (64), Lubuskie (38), Dolnośląskie (37), Podkarpackie (33) and Lubelskie (33). As you can see, the southern and western parts of Poland dominate.
Speaking of the location of vineyards in Poland, these are primarily the vicinity of Szczecin, the Lubuskie region, Lower Silesia and the south of Poland. There are, of course, places with large clusters of vineyards, e.g. around Zielona Góra, Sandomierz, Kazimierz Dolny or Tarnów. The largest vineyards are 20–30 ha, the smallest 0.1 ha, the average area of a vineyard in Poland is 1.3 ha.
- The observed dynamic development of Polish winemaking is the result of several factors. First of all, the stimulus for the development of the wine market in Poland was the introduction of appropriate legal regulations at the turn of the first and second decades of the 21st century, which eliminated a number of administrative barriers hindering the development of winemaking on the current scale, as well as social factors - commented vice general director of KOWR Marcin Wroński.
Grapevines in Poland are practically not treated as an agricultural product. In Poland, as a rule, every winemaker does everything himself: from harvesting, through the entire vinification process, inventing coupages, bottling, labeling, and selling. The effect of such action is overinvestment in the Polish wine production sector, which of course affects prices. These are high, but the cost of a medium-sized vineyard will only pay off after around 15 years. On the other hand, the wines are made very carefully, thought-out with full attention to every detail, and the owner knows almost everything about every bottle produced.
There are different strategies for wine production in Poland. Most producers focus mainly on white wines, and fewer - on red ones. Coupages (a mixture of several grape varieties) dominate, less often single-strain wines (Poles really know how to make great blends of wine). Generally, in Poland, about 70 grape varieties are cultivated.
Wine and alcohol consumption in Poland
According to data published by the Central Statistical Office (GUS), in 2020 a Poles drank more wine and mead, and less beer per capita. Vodka consumption remained unchanged.
According to the Central Statistical Office (GUS) data, the deliveries of vodkas, liqueurs and other spirits per 100% alcohol decreased by 6.1% in 2020. compared to 2019, including pure vodka supplies decreased by 11.8 percent. In turn, supplies of wine and mead grew by 1.8%, including supplies of grape wines (including vermouth) increased by 5%. On the other hand, deliveries of beer obtained from malt (with an alcoholic strength by volume of 0.5% and more) decreased by 3.4% in 2020. The Central Statistical Office (GUS) reported consumption per capita in 2020: vodkas, liqueurs and other spirits amounted to 3.7 liters, wine and mead increased to 6.4 liters, and beer fell to 93.6 liters. The consumption of alcohol per capita in 2020: vodkas, liqueurs and other spirits amounted to 3.7 liters, wine and mead increased to 6.4 liters, and beer decreased to 93.6 liters.
On average, 11.3 liters of pure alcohol annually per inhabitant of a country belonging to the EU - according to the report of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which includes 52 countries of the world. According to the OECD report, the countries where these indicators are the highest include, among others Latvia and Austria. In Latvia, there are 12.8 liters of pure alcohol per capita annually. In Austria, per capita annually there are 12 liters of pure alcohol. According to OECD analyzes, there is an average of 11.7 liters of pure alcohol per one Pole per year - by comparison, the average Dutch drink over 8 liters of pure alcohol a year.
The growing popularity of wine in Poland is related to the change in the model of consumption of alcoholic products (decline in the popularity of vodka, consumption of better-quality alcohol, consumption of smaller amounts) with the simultaneous growing assortment of domestic wines, which Polish consumers are increasingly reaching for. Poles, especially those living in big cities, drink better and better wines. As in all of Europe, biodynamic wines, Pét-Nats (petillant-naturel - sparkling wines, bottled before the end of the fermentation process) and the so-called orange wines. Poles are able to spend more and more on good wine. Very Polish wine is gaining ground on the wave of this trend.
Among the red cultivars, the hybrid regent and rondo are the most numerous, and only in third place is the noble pinot noir. Whites are dominated by solaris, seyval blanc, hibernal, johanniter are also popular, and there is also a noble riesling.
Among the winemakers, there are two types of producers - hybrids fans and noble culitvars fans. The first group prefer the so-called common non-noble cultivars. This solution has many advantages in terms of production - non-noble strains are much better adapted to more difficult Polish weather conditions (e.g. in winter they withstand greater frosts, and in summer they do not need so much sun), more fruits are harvested from the shrub, they are more resistant to diseases grapevines, require less maintenance in the season. Moreover, for many consumers it makes no difference in terms of taste whether it is a noble variety or not.
The second group are enthusiasts of the classics, for whom the whole process is important, as well as the difficult battle with weather conditions and the belief that it will be possible to produce unique and unrepeatable wine.
The wine production market in Poland has grown as much as 35 times in just over the last decade. […] Data from November show that wine production in Poland is catching up with vodka production. Poles not only more and more often reach for wine as such, but also look for wines from native crops. Many Polish labels can surprise you positively. The annual Polish Wine Competition in Jasło proves that Polish winemakers have made enormous progress in the production of high-quality regional wines. - Adrian Pizon, sommelier and manager F&B.
The subject of combining wine with food, distinguishing strains, the so-called wine paring requires a little more awareness among Poles. Poles are educating themselves more and more often.
In terms of wine, the popularity of sommelier courses is increasing. In addition, it is pleasing to train young sommeliers in restaurants, wine bars and hotels to advise their guests on good wine pairing. Although there are still many myths on this subject, the fact is that well-chosen wine can bring out the best in a dish, and vice versa. That is why knowledge in this area is more and more appreciated by guests.
Europe appreciates Polish wine. […] Poland has been perceived as a wine country since 2006. [...] On the other hand, there is a long way to go before Polish wine producers, because the representation from around the world is a history of several hundred years of durability and repeatability - Marek Kondrat, one of the most outstanding Polish actors, wine conservator and owner of a few wine stores, wine importer.
When looking for good Polish wines, first of all, we should start with white wines. And what are the distinguishing features of Polish wines compared to, for example, Europe?
The first is experimenting with constant searches, often resulting from the lack of tradition, the lack of the burden of a national wine school (which exists at least in France, Italy or Spain). Polish winemakers are constantly experimenting with strains and coupages, looking for optimal flavors. There are new products every now and then.
The second is the ecological aspect. Polish producers increasingly focus on ecological, organic and even biodynamic wines. In the basic version, it means a radical reduction of pesticides and sulfuration of wine, the use of natural yeast, no filtering. The radical version includes, among others, herbal only sprays, composts from coexisting plants.
Such solutions require a lot of work, generate greater production risk and give a more expensive final product, but on the other hand, it can be an important alternative to mass-produced wines from the so-called Old Wine World.
The main distribution channel for Polish vineries is direct sales. As a rule, on site in vinery, several local stores and via the Internet. Some vineyards offer their products through specialist alcoholic stores. Some manage to reach discount store or large grocery retailers. Especially the presence in discount stores (this method of promotion was initiated in Poland by craft breweries), according to specialists, is the best form of promotion - the winemaker, in consultation with the chain of stores, reduces the price of wine, most often produces an affordable, light, safe blend in order to convince consumers, and in return has a unique chance to reach customers - not only in large cities, but also in smaller towns and villages (located, sometimes 600-700 km from the vinery). Many regular consumers of Polish wines declare that their adventure with them began with the purchase of such wine at a discount.
An important point in the case of Polish wines is the high price ranging from PLN 50 to PLN 300 per bottle, which may soon turn out to be a serious barrier to development. Taking into account the modest, yet modest scale of production and incurred expenditures, it cannot be cheaper. That is why winemakers are becoming more and more focused on exports to the world (not only Western Europe is becoming an important destination, but also Japan, South Korea and China. There are vineries in Poland that sell 70-80% of their production for export.
In the coming years, there will be more Polish wine on the market, new vineyards are created all the time, new, interesting, often experimental wines appear. Distribution improves. Also, if you have a chance to try Polish wine, just do it. You should be pleased and often surprised what you discover in the glass.