World-renowned for its beer, Belgium is slowly making a name for itself as a wine country, with the business burgeoning in Wallonia and its products receiving critical and popular acclaim in recent years.
"Everything is going well for the sector," Pierre Rion, the President of the Association of Walloon Winegrowers (l'Association des vignerons wallons), told La Dernière Heure. "Most producers have now sold out of stock. This is obviously good news for producers, less so for consumers."
Despite the growing popularity, wine production in Belgium has seen significant difficulties in recent years: poor weather caused the country's total production to fall 35% in 2021 relative to 2020.
"This [current lack of stock] is actually the result of the summer of 2021, which caused a big loss in terms of harvests, and therefore less production," Rion explained. "But people are seduced by Belgian wines. I hear less and less often that our wines are too expensive. Consumers recognise the quality and the work to produce it, especially for organic wines."
Getting the word out
Rion is confident that Belgian wines will soon be able to compete with more famous European producers – namely in France and Italy.
"There is more work to be done to promote our wines," he admitted. "But I see that it is found in most restaurants today, even if it is sometimes classified as 'wine of the world'. People try and are not disappointed. In terms of sparkling wines, we have been winning international competitions for several years, and red and white wines are also progressing."
Rion added that one immediate goal for Belgian wines should be to achieve more official quality certifications. This also requires that the wines being sold are, in fact, truly Belgian.
"This is the big task at present: it's essential to guarantee the 100% local identity of our products. Today, we can bring a wine or grapes from the end of the world to Belgium, finish the job and call it a Belgian wine. That has to change."