Cheap Imports a Threat to Slovenian Winemakers

By , 26 Sep 2019, 12:29 PM Business
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STA, 25 September 2019 - The wine grapes harvesting season, which is in full swing, has a bitter side taste this year as well, as winegrowers and winemakers continue to struggle with sales in the face of large amounts of cheap imports.

The problematic situation was presented to the press on Wednesday by the Vinis Association of Slovenian Winegrowers' and Winemakers' Societies.

Its president Alojz Slavko Toplišek told the STA the growers had "truly found ourselves in a situation when we don't know what to do with the produce we invested our labour and money into through the whole year".

While the exact estimates of the amounts of grapes that could remain unpicked are not available yet, Toplišek said the key problem were excessive imports of cheap wine.

"We are at a major crossroads. We can either allow the market to completely quash us, or we can preserve our countryside," he warned.

He pointed out that the developments are already affecting the demographic situation at a number of farms where even small vineyards were an important source of income in the past.

Suffering the most are winegrowers with 3000 to 5000 square metre vineyards and without their own market, Toplišek said, while also noting the issue of local winemakers who already have established market routes being prohibited by law to buy grapes from smaller growers.

He feels the government should provide some protective measures for such cases, some "basic personal income", since those persisting with wine growing are for instance also preventing the overgrowing of rural zones.

Vinis in general has good relations with the Agriculture Ministry and has acknowledged the state's efforts in this field, with Toplišek pointing out that a ministry council for wine growing had held its maiden session today and also included a representative of the association.

Slovenian growers also struggled with sales seriously last year, which saw very high yields. Production increased by 42% compared to 2017, yields had however been poor in 2016 and 2017.

Slovenian winegrowers worked 15,630 hectares of vineyards in 2018, down from 15,839 the year before. In 1991 Slovenia still had over 20,000 hectares of active vineyards.

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