WINE-PRODUCTION IN CRISIS
APPROVED STRATEGY FOR DEVELOPMENT MAKES NOTES AND RECOMMENDS, BUT DOES NOT SOLVE PROBLEMSProblems in viticulture and wine-production in Bulgaria are not new, but the negative cumulation has now ruined the branch. The country's wine export in 2002 was 65,000,000 litres, down from 160,000,000 litres six years ago; 62% of the Bulgarian vineyards are over 20 years old, and the total production of wine dropped to the critical level of 500,000 hectolitres. With the ambition to stop that decline, about 20 days ago the Government approved a strategy for the development of viticulture and wine-making. However, it seems that the strategy won't help because of two main reasons - the lack of finances and the loss of the traditional Bulgarian markets. Everywhere in the strategy the money issue figures as a recommendation. It is written that each year the uprooting and replanting of 40,000 dca of vineyards should be financed, but it is not specified where the money will come from. It has been established that Bulgarian wines are not adequately advertised on the international markets, but the annual financing of BGN5MN will be ensured from the taxes for wine-making. There is no national system for distribution and promotion of domestic wines. Bulgarians drink five times more spirits than wine. Some 60,000,000 litres a year, at that mainly cheap wines, are sold on the domestic market, wine-producers claim. A few of the enterprises and firms are able to export wine, and the pressure of Australian and South African producers is really fierce and extremely competitive regarding both quality and prices.