Located in northern Europe and with unruly weather, Belgium wasn’t the place to produce wine. With most of its territory being flat and not too many hours of sunlight, growing good quality grapes was a challenge. All of this, however, is changing. Belgian news outlet VRT reports that the land use for vineyards grew from 150 to nearly 600 hectares in the last ten years.
We want to professionalize the burgeoning Belgian wine sector through training, commercial cooperation, advocacy and permanent contacts with all the different authoritiesBelgian Winegrowers Organization
Some Belgian wines have been awarded notable prizes in several international competitions. The Chant d’Éole, from an estate in Quévy, is located south of the city of Mons in Wallonia. Informally known as the “Best Bubbly in the World”, it won the gold medal for “Best Sparkling Wine” at the London Wine Competition in 2020.
Among European citizens and consumers, the demand for quality and for traditional products is constantly rising. Demand is emerging for agricultural products or foodstuffs with demonstrable specific characteristics, especially characteristics related to their geographical origin.
The European rules for Protected Designations of Origin (PDOs) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) were created to promote and protect the designations of quality agricultural products and foodstuffs. These Protected Designations of Origin and Protected Geographical Indications are closely linked to the history and culture of the designated areas and are intended, among other things, to have a positive impact on economic activity and tourism.
Specifically, PDOs refer to agricultural products and foodstuffs produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area with recognized know-how and PGIs refer to agricultural products and foodstuffs closely linked to the geographical area of production.
For wines, among others, these European rules encourage production; protect product names from misuse, imitation and any other false or misleading indication of origin and provenance and also help consumers by providing information on the specificity of the product. The PDOs and PGIs are thus protected at Community level against misuse and counterfeiting, thus providing an assurance to consumers that these products are genuine and not imitations seeking to profit from the good name and reputation of the products concerned.
There are a few reasons why wine making in Belgium is becoming more popular. According to the Brussels Times, one of them is a growing demand for niche agricultural products with a competitive price. The number of farmers leaving the industry is also rising, leaving investors with opportunities to purchase land for vineyards.There are some challenges, however, and growers need to go the extra mile. They have to offer excellent quality wine that can only come from expert knowledge in wine making.
It is no easy endeavor, and the Belgian Winegrowers Organization was created to offer support to those who want to embark on the adventure of producing good quality Belgian wine. With over 100 members, the organization represents more than 80% of Belgian winegrowers. They deliver training in different fields, many of them new and still developing, and they offer help in a variety of ways.
So far Belgium has been granted nine regions of special designation as protected wine regions, and experts believe this is only the beginning for wine in the country.