During the Soviet period, Tajikistan's wines were famous at home and abroad. It was a regular winner at international exhibitions and was a competitor with Portugal, Italy and even France.
Image from: Silk Road New Observation Network
White wine brands such as Dushanbe Pamir Tajik Kurgan Tyube Tafi are in high demand in the USSR.
Red wine brands such as Vahesh Gisarzaus Alar Tagobi are also very popular.
Unfortunately, these glories and traces are not left behind. Although Tajikistan is as rich as ever in grapes.
During the Soviet period, 11 of the 15 republics were growing various varieties of grapes for wine, brandy and sherry. Ukraine, Moldova and Azerbaijan were the top producers of wine. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were the top producers of grapes.
Thanks to abundant sunshine and sophisticated farming techniques, this mountainous republic produces an incredible amount of grapes each year.
According to Soviet statistics, the best annual production in Tajikistan is 6 million liters of wine, two-thirds of which is exported. The production of champagne is 3 million bottles, most of which is also sold abroad. The resulting revenue accounts for 12-15% of the republic"s budget.
The climatic conditions in Tajikistan allow us to grow grapes with a sugar content of 26-28%. And the yield is very high. That's why we can produce such large quantities. recalls Babayev, a veteran of the winemaking industry, who was also a bartender.
This boom lasted until 1985, and now one can only dream of going back to the beginning. Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the civil war in Tajikistan led to the collapse of this boom.
First-class vineyards were cut down, experts went their separate ways, equipment was hauled away, and all that was left was the dilapidated site.
People forget about wine
In order to survive, grape growers began to make the transition. The cultivation of table grapes began. Long-term preservation allows export of grapes to neighboring countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Belarus.
But winemaking is not very promising. Yields are low and quality needs to be improved. The old techniques are outdated and the cost of mastering new ones is too high.
Nowadays only the old brand Kargel still exists in Tajikistan wine counters. The once popular brands are no longer produced.
The price of domestic wine is relatively low, but the profit is also small. 0.5 liters are sold for about 30-40 somoni, the cost is 15 somoni, and vodka is cheaper than that. The demand for alcohol has decreased. Babayev said.
According to him, TAR wines used to have a great potential for export, but now, considering the quality of production, one should not expect a wide demand from foreign markets. The current production model is basically semi-artisanal, but now there is a high demand for industrialization.
Tajikistan is reviving its winemaking industry
Now, Tajikistan's President Rahmon has decided to revive the glory of winemaking and has instructed that all possible measures be taken.
But it wasn't that easy. The sun is still the same, the land is still the same, and the technology has to be relearned.
There are five wine-growing regions in the TAR: three in the north and one each in the center and south. The varieties here are specialized in the production of intense red and white sweet wines. In addition to this, they can be used for making dry reds and raisins, and have very good export prospects. Babayev said.
Three years ago, the Tower government allowed citizens to make wine at home. But society was against it, fearing the growth in the number of alcoholics. However, experts believe that this is an opportunity to gradually revive the winemaking tradition.
However, artisanal brewing could not contribute to the revival of the industry and changes had to be made on an industrial scale.
There is another winery in Dushanbe that could also be rebuilt some more. Experts are sure that if the production of old brands of wines from the past can be restored, it will still increase the export potential.