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Polish polish

Published:  13 November, 2018

Poland is setting its sights to become an internationally recognised producer of quality wine, with the number of vineyards doubling over the past four years.

That's according to Warsaw architect Maciej Sondij, co-owner of Dom Bliskowice, who says: “Poland is starting to be recognised as a source of quality wine – it's definitely happening.”

“Dom Bliskowice is already listed in Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK. If other producers follow and listen to their terroir, with time the quality should rise and rise,” she adds.

Situated near the town of Kazimierz in central Poland, Dom Bliskowice's vineyards are planted on a gentle limestone slope over the Vistula river and at the forefront of a renewed focus on quality and export ambition among the country’s handful of leading producers.

According to Sondij, the winery now exports to the UK, Germany and Sweden – in addition the brand is currently finalising a deal to export to Holland and Singapore.

It’s a far cry from the picture at the turn of the Millennium, when Poland's very nascent industry was heavily reliant on hybrid varieties, much to its detriment.

Today, the total area of land cultivated for wine grapes across the country has reached 394 hectares, although Poland’s 2017/2018 vintage output stood at around 5,207 hectolitres, a great distance from Italy’s annual wine production of 55 million hl.

Yet historically, Poland has made grape wine since the Middle Ages. The western city of Zielona Góra, then named Grünberg, was Germany’s largest wine region and a centre of Sekt production until 1945, when it became part of communist Poland.

Revitalisation came in 1985, when Roman Myśliwiec, a photographer from Jasło, started a nursery. He planted frost- and disease-resistant hybrid varieties, which are increasingly a less common feature of Poland's viticultural landscape.

“Our viticultural practices are changing fast,” says Sondij. “In the beginning, the industry was forced to plant hybrids to cope with the harsh growing conditions. But with global warming being an undisputed fact, we are now replacing hybrids with Vitis vinifera. Our industry is on the up.”

A recent tasting of several excellent Polish wines, including an almost Burgundian Pinot Noir from Dom Bliskowice, suggests that her optimism is not misplaced.