Staunton, Sept. 14 – Uzbekistan is not yet a major wine producer, and its Fergana Valley is not set to challenge the Rhine or the Rhone. But over the last two decades, its wine production has taken off, and some of its products have actually won prizes at international competitions in Europe.
While the current wine industry of Uzbekistan really flourished only after the end of Soviet times, the republic’s wine production has a history extending back into Russian imperial times and the first decades of Soviet power (ia-centr.ru/experts/altynay-alieva/razlivaya-solntse-po-bokalam-istoriya-i-budushchee-uzbekskikh-vin/).
The situation has now reached the point where enthusiasts are pushing for Tashkent to organize wine tourism. The government has responded by subsidizing producers and creating institutions to help vineyards develop a wide variety of grapes and wines. And it has also promoted their export.
One reason that has limited the development of wine production in Uzbekistan is the Muslim prohibition against drinking. As a result, relatively few Uzbeks drink wine; but producers seem confident that can change and that they will be able to increase their share of the alcohol market there.
A year ago, Tashkent created a Winemaking Foundation within the Agency for the Regulation of Alcohol and Tobacco Markets and the Development of Winemaking; and it committed 100 million dollars to the development of new vineyards. As a result, Uzbek wines may become something worth watching and waiting for.