The Association “Balkan Wines” – first step to regional wine future

The first edition of the “Balkan Wines” Symposium was marked by the future joint promotion of the entire Balkan wine region. Supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), this important event gathered into one place wine connoisseurs, international experts from the industry and regional wineries in order to mark the initiative for the establishment of the “Balkan Wines” association and promote the extraordinary wine story of the Balkan.

The event opened with a series of inspirational addresses on cooperation by Svetozar Janevski, President of Wines of Macedonia; Milos Milovanovic, Agribusiness Investment Support Specialist of the UN FAO Investment Centre; Nemanja Grgic, Principal Manager of Agribusiness at EBRD; as well as Ljupco Nikolovski, Minister of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry of RNM.

Elena Mladenovska, Executive Director of Wines of Macedonia presented the vision and the objective of the joint initiative “Balkan Wines”. The newly established association shall drive the cooperation among the wine industries in the region. “This strategic initiative shall pave the road to unique wine offers, sustainable practices and enhanced international recognition and development of wine tourism” Jelenkovic stated.

Frederic Julia, the international expert of the project, presented the marketing strategy for joint promotion of Balkan wine industries. According to his findings, the countries in the Balkan have an excellent geographic position and climate for wine production, local varieties that particularly lend to the authenticity of the region, as well as a great mix of large and small wineries that contribute to a diverse and strong wine industry.   

The symposium was the culmination of the one week trip, where world renowned wine journalists visited the six countries in the Western Balkan. The goal of the trip was to unveil the untapped potential of Balkan wines. At the first panel discussion they shared their impressions from the trip and issue their own recommendations and considerations of the common road ahead. Their recommendations concerned more focused branding, promotion of indigenous varieties and building Balkan wine roads that would provide a well-rounded tourism offer that would not be focused solely on wine tasting.

The second panel discussion was dedicated to sustainable production of wine. Jacopo Monzini, Senior Natural Resources Management Officer at FAO; Stefano Scardocchia, Sustainability Reporting Manager at Banfi S.r.l.; and Rados Vukicevic, Chief Executive Officer at Tikves Winery discussed the successful models of sustainable practices in the global wine industry, as well as the local good practices. The “Balkan Wines” Association is based on the Memorandum of Cooperation that established the Balkan Wine Network in 2019. The network aimed to assist in determining the strategic directions of future sustainable development of the wine industry, viticulture and wine tourism in the entire region. The objectives of the network are also in the focus of the new “Balkan Wines” association, and the Symposium was used to award a certificate of appreciation to the “Western Balkan Fund” and its executive director Gjergj Murra for their outstanding contributions.

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