Will wine from the Malopolska region come to our tables soon? In just two years’ time as a part of the program called “Vineyards of Malapolska,” almost 50 farmers from Krakow and Nowy Sacz have learned how to establish grapevines for producing wine. The results are very promising. One of the planters is Ryszard Motawa, who grows more than 130 kinds of grapevines. His experimental breeding in Lazy Brzynskie near Jazowsko is a good indication that wine production can be tried in Poland and it could be high-quality wine.
“At the beginning it was to be a hobby, a kind of entertainment,” Motawa told the newspaper Gazeta Krakowska. “I have spent 17 years at German and French vineyards. I started thinking about Poland 10 years ago. Now I have 1,200 square meters of vineyards under foil and one hectare without it.”
Motawa thinks that the key to success is choosing grapevines suitable for Poland’s severe climate. “From a one-hectare vineyard it is possible to produce 10,000 bottles of high-quality wine yearly” in the Malopolska region, says Mariusz Chryk of the Wine Forum.” Assuming 5 zloty profit for each bottle, that means 50,000 zloty yearly. What kind of agricultural breeding can give as high income per one hectare as that?”
In December of 2005, Poland received the green light from the EU to produce and sell wine. But Polish law effectively opposes most initiatives of Polish farmers, especially owners of small farms who want to invest in the wine industry. EU law allows member countries to excuse small wine producers from excise duty. And farms producing not more than 100,000 litters of wine yearly do not face control procedures. All that’s needed is an excise band to buy and stick on the bottle. Such a bottle can be sold at shops.
Ryszard Motawa dreams of a situation found in many EU countries. “There almost every farm has its own stand or small shop. It can sell wine it produced and wine and fruit distillates from other producers. In Poland such sales are unlawful.” The Polish tax service still insists on taxes and permanent excise supervision for small producers – that is, for people producing 1000 hectolitres of wine yearly. In our conditions it corresponds to 10 hectares of vineyard. Hopefully the law may be changed soon. The Ministry of Finances has proposed a new excise law which excludes small producers from the taxes.
The proposal is before Parliament, and Polish farmers expect the legislative process to be fast and the barriers to fall. Poland is the only EU country with huge areas suitable for grapevines and not covered by the ban on growing new vineyards. In the opinion of Marek Jarosz, chairman of the Polish Institute of Grapevines and Wine, Poland’s southern provinces – Lubuskie, Dolnoslaskie, Malopolskie and Podkarpackie – have the proper natural conditions and a historical tradition of grapevine breeding. In the Malopolska region alone, 37.5 hectares of ground could be used for grapevines, as much territory as the Czech and Slovak Republics have together. The current total area of Polish vineyards is about 300 hectares. Modern Poland is still associated with cheap fruit wine and vodka, which became popular during the Communist era when it was easy to ferment and distill grain and potatoes. Let us hope that with changes in the laws of Poland will take a different liquor path.
“In the future our vineyards will be a tourist attraction called ‘Paths of Malopolska Region Vineyards,'” says Piotr Popik, chairman of the Department of Marketing and Regional Cooperation of the Agency of Regional Development of Malopolska. “Local wines and vineyards can in the future be an important factor of development and promotion of the region.”