Belgian wine sector set its sights on quality and export
Wine in Belgium has always been a tale of highs and lows, from ancient times through the Middle Ages right up to the modern day. But now, the prospect of sustained success seems to be beckoning.
Winegrowing was probably introduced by the Romans. During the Medieval Warm Period, wine grapes were grown in our regions by monasteries and castellans, but when the climate became colder, that economic activity ground to a halt. But it was the infamous volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815 that heralded 150 years of complete standstill. This eruption, one of the most powerful at the time, caused widespread cooling and years with summer, resulting in a lack of grapes suitable for winemaking. Until the 1960s when Belgium saw a revival of winegrowing. Wine is produced mainly in the Hageland, the Hesbaye, Heuvelland and the region between the rivers Sambre and Meuse.
The sector is clearly seeing growth. Over the last decade, the number of winegrowers and the land area used for winegrowing have increased significantly, as has professionalisation in the sector, and this trend is expected to continue. The quality is also improving all the time, whether white, red or sparkling wine. Unfavourable weather conditions, such as scorching or extreme drought, may cause a temporary slump, but production generally remains at the same level. All of this means that Belgium is gradually building a reputation in the wine world, albeit still a modest one. The winegrower's ultimate aim is, of course, to be able to export his product, and the outlook for that is looking promising too. Cheers!