Interview

Finding the Way

3-4/2019

     Favorable climatic conditions allow Uzbekistan to grow different varieties of grapes, both wine and table, and the domestic winemaking has great potential for export development. Since 2018, our country has become a full-fledged member of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) and considers its membership as an opportunity to increase the export attractiveness of the domestic wine.
     We had a chance to meet and talk with the Director General of the OIV Mr. Pau Roca, from whom we learned a lot about the organization and principles of its activities, and about the potential of our country in the wine business, as well as heard very valuable recommendations for our entrepreneurs, farmers and winemakers, which we offer to your attention.
 
     – Tell us about the International Organization of Vine and Wine? When was it established, what is the main purpose of its activities, how many members does it have?
     – The OIV was established in 1924 and today has 47 member-states, the last of which is Uzbekistan. The last I mean in alphabetical order. The OIV represents 65% of world wine consumption and 84% of global wine production. The OIV is an intergovernmental organization devoted to the vinicultural world, which drafts standards by consensus thanks to scientific expertise with a strategic vision for the benefit of the wine sector and consumers.
     – What are the basic requirements for membership in your organization and the benefits for its members?
     – First of all, it must be a country recognized by the United Nations, and it must be accepted by the rest of the governments, that is, it must be a legitimate government. The advantage of membership is to become part of the scientific community, which discusses various issues, mainly standards, rules, quality objectives relating to both wine and grapes and raisins. And, of course, membership in the OIV gives the country an advantage in decision-making. We also provide services to the governments of the member-states of our organization, for example, if there are requests to help them with legislation and compliance with international rules and standards.
     – What activities can your organization organize and whether there is a system of rewards for any achievements or successes in the field of winemaking and viticulture for participants of your events?
     – We regularly hold both internal events (general assemblies, meetings, working groups on various issues) and international congresses. In 2021 the International Congress of Winemakers will be held in Samarkand. We also provide patronage to over 20-22 various international event – competitions and symposia. The OIV Award is a distinction set out in the OIV Rules of Procedure, granted each year by an international Jury composed of eminent personalities in the vinicultural world who represent the OIV Member Countries. The Jury thus recognizes, with the OIV Award, works (books) of reference in each of the 11 categories open to competition. Its decision is absolute and based on consensus. This is the visibility of OIV in different types of events.
     – Undoubtedly, you are not only a talented leader, but also a connoisseur of wines. As an experienced expert, what can you say about Uzbek wines? Are they competitive in the international market? In particular, how are they evaluated by French specialists and consumers?
     – Uzbekistan has a rich agronomic potential for production of grapes, has a wide range of interesting grape varieties, has accumulated experience in the creation of varieties of cognacs and alcoholic beverages. I was also impressed by the abundance of dried fruits you have, including raisins. In general, there is good potential and, of course, there are great opportunities for growth. Therefore, the country should invest and make efforts in the development of viticulture, because it has promising objective elements for production of good wine. I tried several well-known types of Uzbek wines, but, of course, not all, because there are a lot of them. And they made an impression – there is certainly room for improvement.
     – What opportunities will the Congress of 2021 in Samarkand give to wine producers? Will the recognition of wines of our country and the attitude of other countries to it increase?
     – Uzbekistan is not yet a known country in the world of winemaking, so the Congress is a good opportunity to open Uzbek wine to the world. In the past, Uzbekistan was a closed country, and little was known about it. Now, with the change of power, the country is opening to the world, showing its unique opportunities, for example, in terms of the development of tourism and many other areas. In particular, having a membership in OIV, which is a scientific community, I think you may cause the interest in the capabilities of your grape growers. In your country, about 100 thousand hectares of land are used to grow different varieties of grapes, from which, according to my assumptions, only 10–15% is accounted for production of wines. This volume of production can be increased. There is also potential for the development of grape genetics in order to increase the diversity and resistance of varieties to adverse climatic factors. I can’t talk about facts because I don’t have the accurate data, but I think Uzbekistan is a very interesting country from this point of view. You have a rich tradition of growing and breeding new varieties of grapes, there is experience gained over decades, so our scientific community by accepting Uzbekistan, will discover a lot from a scientific point of view. For example, your country is very interesting in the adaptation of grapes to sudden climate changes. Your vines have the ability to survive in stressful conditions – both during the cold winter and in the hot summer with low water consumption, under the active influence of solar radiation, high temperatures and dry hot air, because the plantations are close to the drylands, so the experience of their adaptation in such extreme conditions is very interesting for our scientific community.
     There is another important and significant aspect that plays an important role in the benevolent attitude of the OIV member-countries to Uzbekistan – your country is predominantly Muslim, but very it is tolerant. Uzbekistan is an example of peaceful coexistence of different nationalities and ethnicities, religions and confessions for the rest of the world. Thus, the choice of venue for the next OIV Congress in Uzbekistan has been influenced by three aspects: first — the visibility from the point of view of tourism, whereby safe and interesting, and second — the integration into the global scientific community and third – the existence of a favorable socio-political and socio-economic conditions for development of cooperation in the sphere of viticulture and winemaking.
     – We know that France is famous for its wineries and ancient traditions of wine production. Are there opportunities for cooperation and wine-making capacity building in Uzbekistan?
     – This is what you should find for yourself. However, it is important to preserve your experience and your traditions from a personal point of view, namely – do not try to copy other manufacturers. It is important that the wine community develops its potential in a variety of different forms and methods of development. You should find yourself, but do everything soundly, without the elements of blind imitation of famous brands. As a parting word I can advise you to pay attention to the fact that in Uzbekistan there are some entrepreneurs who produce everything – soft drinks and different types of alcohol (vodka, cognac, wine). It is unprofessional. In this case, to achieve a high level it is necessary to have a specialization. Because each production process requires to observe different temperature regimes, levels of purification and sterilization, to develop and apply new unique technologies, adapted for each of them, to observe completely different technological and quality parameters and characteristics. Moreover, each production differs in terms of use of production capacity and investment.
     Besides, there is an objective element – you should find your way, while maintaining your individuality and specificity that distinguish your products from other brands. So that every expert or amateur of drinks by trying your product could say with admiration – it is a unique taste of Uzbek grapes.
     – Thank you for your time and interesting conversation, I hope that your expert opinion contributes to the improvement of the activities of our winemakers and the level of quality of wine products produced by Uzbek entrepreneurs.

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