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Description to Albania
The area is considered in some sources to be one of the cradles of European viticulture. Viticulture dates back to the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. There was cultivated viticulture in Illyria as early as the 8th century BC. Early Roman authors mention the introduction of a high-yielding Illyrian grape variety to Italy. Greek colonies were founded in the 7th century BC. Around 350 BC, an independent kingdom of Illyria was established. In the middle of the 2nd century BC, the kingdom was conquered by the Romans and became the province of Illyricum around 30 BC. From the end of the 4th century AD it then belonged to the Byzantine Empire for many centuries. From the beginning of the 16th century until independence in 1912, it was under Turkish rule. During this time, viticulture was insignificant due to the prohibition of alcohol.
After the Second World War, a new beginning was made and grafted vines were planted for the first time. In 2012, the vineyards covered 10,000 hectares, which was double the area in 2000, and 190,000 hectolitres of wine were produced (see wine production volumes). Only about 20% is used for wine production. About 30% goes into the production of sultanas and table grapes. The main share of 50% is used for the distillation ofraki (brandy), the traditional, high-proof pomace brandy "Raki Rrushi" is particularly popular.
The most important wine-growing areas are Shkodra with, for example, the municipality of Kallmet (northwest), the hills around the capital Tirana with, for example, the municipality of Lundër (centre), Berat and Përmet (south), Durrës (central east), Korça (southeast) and Lushnja (southwest). In the interior, there are partly terraced vineyards up to 1,300 metres above sea level, making them among the highest in the world. Many autochthonous varieties are cultivated. These are the white wine varieties Debina Kala, Debine e Bardhë, Kryqëz, Pulës, Shesh i Bardhë and Tajka e Bardhë, as well as the red wine varieties Debine e Zezë, Gomaresh, Kallmet, Serina e Zeze, Shesh i Zi and Vlosh. The most important international varieties include Aligoté, Barbera and Mavrud.