Albanian wine is no stranger to Europe. Archeological evidence near the capital of Tirana indicates traces of tannic acid, which produces the bitter taste in wine, dates back to a 6,000-year viniculture, making Albania arguably the oldest winemaker in Europe. Albania, a small country bordering Greece on the Adriatic Sea, has four separate wine regions, defined mostly by their altitude, ranging from the mountains to the inland foothills to the coastal villages. The country’s wine has been characterized by a unique sweetness since ancient times. Ancient Roman writer Pliny described Albania wine as “very sweet or luscious.”
Science Meets Wine
Flori Uka, barely 30 years old, is making a name for himself and his family’s self-named enterprise, Uka Winery – an oasis of biodynamic sustainable farm and vineyards. The farm was founded by his father, a professor of agriculture and former Albanian Minister of Agriculture, in 1996. “He is a scientist and not a good politician,” laughs Flori, “So he left politics for the farm, which was his passion.” The farm was a major project for Professor Uka who applied the philosophy of biodynamic farming – organisms working together to create a single organism, to copy the forest and work by itself. The Uka farm was not originally built for business but was originally established for scientific purposes and so that his students could visit the farm to see for themselves what they were studying.
Growth Without Human Intervention
At Uka, they are “trying to copy a forest,” allowing it to self-work. “It is really difficult to do with fruits, but with the intervention of the human being it is possible. But the thing that my father wanted to do was to intervene less. The less intervention, the better it is for nature because nature created us, we didn’t create nature.” “We call the insects enemies, but 100 years ago pesticides didn’t exist and they were not enemies. Everyone ate healthy. Now a lot of different things have destroyed agriculture and we have artificialized nature and food and now have to treat them. So if we live like a forest, we don’t have to treat it, we get everything healthy like a tree. This is the concept.” Read the rest of Albanian Wine in Epicure & Culture magazine.