Albania was defenitely not on the wine map 30 years ago as well as most of the Balkan countries. I have a world wine guide written during the early 90:s and the part about Albania was a few sentences only. Wine takes time to grow and just because there are grapes it dosent mean they are suitable for good wines. It takes time. There are around 12 000 hectares of wine in Albania, compared with around 25 000 in Slovenia or almost 800 000 hectares in France.
Wine around Tirana
Wine has been produced already 3000 years ago which makes Albania one of the older countries with a long wine tradition. But the wines that was produced during the last 50 years has been of lower quality.
There are today many interesting wineries even if the modern wine history is short. There was a few wineries around 1980 but the taste was simple and Albania was considered a no-go for the wine connoisseur. The volumes have trippled since then and we expect that the piece about Albania in wine guides will be longer in the near future. The climate is good and the knowledge is good. Many good wine makers have started to develop the wines and there are many superb wines nowadays. There are many wineries in the country and a few around Tirana. We decided to visit just this one because of its good reviews and nice setting. Most of the farms are only accessible by car but Uka Farm is easy to reach with bus and some walking.
Uka farm is just outside town. Take a bus to the shopping mall QTU and walk 30 min or take taxi. They have seven wines and what’s interesting is that one of the wines is made with the local grape Kallmet. Very exotic to try new grapes. Wines are served inside during the winter and the food is great. A small but good menu. Staff and owner are doing their best to welcome visitors. This is a good afternoon tour when in Tirana.
Other Albanian grapes are Shesh, Vlosh and Debin. The production is increasing every year and wines are developing. There are many wine shops around town but also in Durres which is the coastal town you should visit. Bus goes back and forth several times per day. The wine shops in Durres sell many other wines then in Tiranas shops which focus more on Italian/French and a handfull local wines. Ask for the local grapes and when it comes to good ones, calculate to pay around 15 euro or more for a interesting wine.
Jonathan Gharbi de Mare