Czech wine producers and their role in the European wine sector

"If we do not make a bold reform proposal, there will be wine producers in Europe who will suffer a painful death," said European Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel recently, in an attempt to rally support for a reform plan she has produced. Experts agree that decreasing wine consumption, intense competition from countries like Australia, Chile, and South Africa, and the threat of imports exceeding exports are all hitting the European wine sector hard. Many have called for change, but it seems producers are finding it hard to agree on what form that change should take.

Dita Asiedu spoke to Martin Pucek, Secretary General of the Association of Czech Winemakers, to find out how Czech wine producers are faring:

"The reform of the wine sector is very important. We know about that and we want to have it done. We agree with the Commission's position on stopping distillations and we think it would be best to use the money spent on distillation to restructure vineyards and for cellar technologies for middle and small wineries which in the new EU countries have undergone little restructuring."

As for the plan to introduce incentives for winemakers to grub up 400,000 hectares of vineyards, how would that affect Czech wine producers? Do you think they would be willing to do this?

"The Czech Republic is a very small wine producing country and we have just about 19,000 hectares of vineyards. We can grub up not more than 500,000 vineyards that are no longer productive. But I don't think this will be a popular thing."

Beyond the borders of the Czech Republic, not many people know that there is such a thing as Czech wine...

"In the Czech Republic between 500,000 and 600,000 hectolitres of wine are produced. To satisfy the consumer, we need 1.7 million hectolitres. So, the Czech Republic is mainly an importer but the export of Czech wine helps to promote the good name of the country. After we joined the EU, we started a marketing organisation called the Wine Fund and the promotion of Czech wine should start this year."

You can start it right now. Why is Czech wine good?

"We're at an advantage because the Czech Republic is a northern wine country. The colder nights and the high temperatures during the days give wine from the northern countries a very interesting flavour. Northern wine is very light for drinking."