Winnica Golesz

Polish wine grower fights to put Polish wine on the map



Poland might be known for its famous vodkas, but one man is fighting a battle to put its wine on the map too.

Roman Mysliwiec, 55, from his two-hectare Golesz domaine in Jaslo, Poland's frontier region with Slovakia and Ukraine, is trying to make the breakthrough with his Seyval blanc, Bianca, Muscat Odessa and Rondo grape varieties.
He admits that Poland is not traditionally considered a wine growing region, but says there is no reason why Poland should not produce wine too.
"We are 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Slovakian border, and 100 kilometres (60 miles) away there are already vineyards," Mysliwiec, who produces some 3,000 litres of wine from his vineyards, told AFP.
"Wine theory stipulates that wine is only profitable up to 50 degrees latitude, that is just south of Krakow," on Polish territory, the Polish wine militant with an intense regard and heavily bearded face told AFP.
He also admits that the weather is not on his side.
"Here in Poland the autumn is very humid, and the frost in winter kills the vines," he says.
But he says that with well-chosen "new grape varieties, which have been made more resistant," there is no reason why he should not succeed in producing quality wine, just like other countries which have harsh climates.
He has been trying and testing grape varieties for the past 20 years, when he planted his first vines, with the help of researchers from the Soviet Union, including Georgia and Moldova, and Canada.
He has tested 300 kinds of grapes in order to produce a wine with strains from eastern Europe and also what he calls "primitive American variety."
Poland does have a distant tradition of wine, which was produced in the 11th century by Benedictine and Cistercien monks, in the western region of Zielona Gora which today boasts a wine museum.
However, it was short-lived as the know-how did not spread, because traditionally Poles are more at home with vodka or honey-flavoured alcohol.
Over recent years, however, a number of Poles who went abroad to pick grapes have decided to try and produce their own wines, providing Mysliwiec with his main customers for his grapes.
Without a market at the moment for his wine itself, he makes his living from selling vine plants for fruit or wine, and has set up with several enthusiasts a specialised academy in the southern town of Krakow.
In the hope that things will change, he is building a 300 square metre (3,229 square feet) wine cellar for the day he can sell his wines as well.
With the help of his plants, small quantities of wine have already been produced in several regions of Poland, from Lublin to the east, Wroclaw to the West and Kazimierz Dolny, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Warsaw.
Although he has a good reputation in Poland, he can not sell his product, and therefore not develop his production, for lack of adequate legislation.
"A legal void makes the sale of these home-grown wines very difficult, even impossible, for lack of well-defined procedures for phytosanitary checks," liberal deputy Bogdan Zdrojewski, who is pushing a draft law to resolve the problem, told AFP.
The wine-lover said his draft law, lodged with the agriculture ministry several months ago "should in the first place lay down the reciprocal rights of producers and public authorities, set up laboratories to control the wines, and lay down rules for stockage and distribution."
"With climatic conditions comparable to those of Germany, Poland has every chance of producting good quality white wines," he said.
"Red wines are more demanding," he underlined, although those produced by Mysliwiec leave an aftertaste of oak and raspberry in the mouth.

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