WISDOM FROM VINE AND WINE

Illyrians have known the culture surrounding growing grapes from early history. As a meter of survival, people created cults around the culture. People have found descriptions of the deity Dionysus` figure, know various as Bacchus, in a number of sculptures and reliefs, in Durres Apoloni, Bylis, Amantia, Orikum, and in Butrint (all of which were well-known cities in ancient Illyria.)

Glass of Red Wine

People believed the deity, Dionysus, to be the inventor of wine from grapes. This cult was also very powerful in Albania. Viticulture developed successfully over a long period.

The great Aristotle mentioned one traditional type of wine fermented using honey, made by the Illyrians tribe of Taulante. Unfortunately, the method has been lost.

Pliny, who lived in the century after Christ, mentioned the citizens of Durrah9Durres) that cultivated Baliske, a type of vine brought to Spain, where they changed name to Cocolobo.

 

The name of Baliske derivers from the Albanian word “white”(i.e. the ancient Albanian word for ‘white” Eds. note) This type of indigenous vine still grows on the Albanian coast and now bears the name “Vlosh”.


Famous vineyard in Durrah was renown in ancient times. In the middle Ages, people brought rootstock of this cultivar to various places in Europe. According to the Albanologist Milan Shuflay, vintners knew this cultivar by the name “Durracina” having originated from Durres. The old city of Ragusa, (today`s Dubrownik) etymologically derived its name from the vine cultivar developed in Ragusa.

Archeological monuments have given us a great number of late ancient mosaic, which have portrayed pergolas, as a symbol of Christianity.

 

In Karaburun, (in the gulf of Gramat near Vlore) I discovered an amphora sculpted into the rock, which symbolized the miracles of Christ (who changed the water into wine)

There are many legends about grapes in Albania. They are a cultural parable. In the middle Ages, the Venetians spoke about the miraculous wines of Albania in the region of Kallmet. The culture of wine is an important dimension of civilization in general. In the 17th century, Pjeter Bogdani , in his book, “Troop of Prophets”, also spoke the biblical figure of Noah, who supposed invented wine from grapes(which is a parallel of the deity Dionysus.)

Illyrians (and subsequently, Albanians) acknowledges wine as a scared, drink. Illyrians were also renowned for ‘Sabaja” a type of beer. Winemaking technology and in general, alcoholic drinks, are connected, not only with the biochemical process, but also, in the Middle Ages, for  those written in the tractates of alchemy.

Albanians have also produced miraculous wines, an illustrious thing in our civilization. Poets, from Naim Frasheri to Dritero Agolli, have sung metaphorically about wine ‘Cheerfulness” and “natural inspiration” Wine connects us with nature at an essential level.

In the Mediterranean basin, including the Albanian lands, Viti-Viniculture has accompanied peoples’ life and culture, from ancient times until our days, and so on. It took a lot of knowledge and work, to cultivate vineyards, to create new cultivars and new well-known wines. Pharaohs, Shahs, Emperors, Kings and Princes, Nobles, etc. have been both participants and consumer of these efforts; but winters and winemakers and scientific institutions, especially, gave the most valuable contribution. If vine and wine resembled an audiovisual recording, much of human history would be contained in them.

 

Actual industry  for processing grapes was  initially comprised of four factories for the production of alcohol (Shkoder 1922, Vlore 1923, Korce 1926, Elbasan 1927) This  endeavor  increased with the addition of four small wine workshops built in Leskovik with the addition of four small wine workshop built in Leskovik 91952), Skrapar and two in Permet (1955) with a total processing capacity of 300 tons of grapes. During the year 1961-1970, they constructed wine cellar in Shkoder, Durres, Tirane, Lushnje, construced wine cellars in Shkoder, Durres, Tirane, Lushnje , Fier, Peshkopi, etc. Albania began exporting wine up to 61.000 hectares per annum. During the years1981-90 the government constructed new wine cellars in Durres, Delvine, Elbasan, Gjirokaster, Korce , Leskovik. Albanian fondly recalls four small wine- raki factories located in the small towns of Klos, Corovode, Permet and Leskovik.

The traditional methods for processing grapes in Albania reached their highest levels at the end of the 80`s, with 23 factories and 74 small factories for wine and raki production. Forty-four small factories where just for the production of raki. Altogether, they processed approximately 40.000 tons of grapes, producing 80.000 hectares of wine and 36.000 hectares of vinegar and 500 hectares of grape juice.

During the 90 s, private industry quickly renovated the former state industri, replacing old technology and heavy amortization. In the beginning of 2000, there were more than 28 wine cellars and 51 artisan cellars for alcohol production. By 2002, grape production was nearly the same as in 1990. Even through they where utilizing half the vineyard surface. The production of wine, liqueurs and raki had greatly increased compared to 1990 because the grape yield had more than dublet.

Production continues to grow quickly, The Albanian and export markets are eager to purchase high quality grapes and grape products for such reasonable process. It is noteworthy to point out that farmers and merchants have an interest in creating equally vineyards with cultivars for the market demand for wine and tuble grapes. In the coast area, the priority so in the production of table grapes. There is great interest in the use of modern technology, especially in advances to cultivate vines in a protected environment, to ripen grapes quicker, and raise the quality of grapes.

 

 

Albanian history and tradition for viticulture is also

Expressed by names. They have villages named ‘Vreshta (vineyard)” in Elbasan , Fier, Gramsh, Korce etc; near neighborhoods in Albanian  region there are placed named ‘vineyard” for example in the villages Aallas, Dramosh, Muriq, Shtuf-Oblike,, dajc, Kullaj,Mes, Postribe, Vrake, as also in other villages of Kosovo, and in the communities of Tetova) or with the “vreshti ( a dialectical varation of Vreshta” ) in the villages 9Boks, Drisht kurtaj ndrejaj –Shash, and in Palaj-Shosh, Fulqet) or ‘ veshtela(another dialectical varitation)” (Lekaj - Shale) and “vneshza” (Dush-Puke).

The academic, Eqerem Cabej and other linguists, connected the name Vinjoll (of two villages in the districts of Mat and Kurbin) to the Latin word “Vinealis Terra” i.e  “land  for vineyards”. The main Albanian terminology connected with viticulture is the source of Albanian languages or in the sublimity of ancient Maditerranean.

Professor Cabej explained that the words ‘Hardhi- grape-vine” “vjel-gather” “vile- bunch “, are part of Indo-Euopean languages; the words “vresht-vineyard” ’vere-wine” “rrush-grape”, are from Mediterranean source. The Albanian language inherited the word “bersi-mash” from Illyrian.

Songs and other festivities for the gathering of grapes and values of wine, we find also in Albanian customs. So, Kosovo celebrates the gathering of grapes during the first Saturday in October and the central play is held in Landovice, in the suburbs of Perizren. In Albania, such celebrations are organized in Shkoder, Tirane , Vlore , etc. In the songs for these activities, where the females are called ‘Rushe- Grape “ it is worth mentioning, “ Rushe moj rushe – Grape my Grape”, “ U zgjua Rushja ne mengjes- Grape, wake up in the morning”, “ Bejme  zonje dhenderre- Make me your bridegroom” etc. The Albanian, exalt the grape so much that they use it as a name for people.

 

THE LEGEND OF THE VILZE VILLAGE

The Vilze village, at the feet of the Cukal mountain9 on the southern slopes of the Albanian Alps), is known for the viticulture. There is a tradition that as an occupying army approached Drivasti (Drishti), the local people, who were fighting from the castle, prepared armor with cuttings from grapevine, so they could use these to defend themselves during combat

The armor, which was prepared from the grapevine cuttings, hardened in water and protected the breast of warriors, so the enemy arrows would not wound them. The foreigners, after the understood where the locals were getting the materials for preparing armor, destroyed all the vineyards of the Vilze village.

PJETER BUDI TO THE VATICAN

From the announcement thet Pjeter Budi, the great Georgophil, sent to the Cardinal Gocadino at the Vatican (15 September 1621):

‘” there are internal regions (in Albania lands) , full with every kind of wild game, with many , good wines, with oils, with lots of good wheat and husbandry in great quantities”.

TRACING TRADITION

In the 1960s, an aged man in the village of Macukull, in the Mati district responded to a question about what kind of courtesy men practiced before the cultivation of tobacco in Albania. He answered” There is a saying that men kept a small wooden flask with themselves, full of wine produced from their own vineyard; so when they met one other, after greeting, they began  to share their respective wines’. This tradition indicates their confidence in producing the best of wines, and even more for the type of grapes that made the wine. A quality wine gave a prestigious name to the master of the vineyard.

WINE CASKS

Often, homemakers carefully sorted dozen of wine bottles, placed in wine casks in the cellar. This type of storage could keep the wine safe for two or three years. When special guests came, they honored the guests with wine aged for two to three years. When others asked the guest how it went, he answered’ me kane prit me vere arke- They honored me from the wine cask.”

A GRANDFATHER TEACH HIS NEPHEW ABOUT LIFE

“An internal war is happening inside me. It is a war between two wolves; one is a devil ( mad, envy, greed. Liar, contemptuous, hateful, conceited, narcissist) and the other is good(happy, peaceful, loving, hopeful, a quiet spirit, humble, charitable, generous, truthful, compassionate, be living in the truth). The same war happens inside of you and in everyone”

These are the words of the grandfather.

The nephew thought a moment, and then asked the grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The grandfather replies, “The one that is fed.”

The moral of the story often refers to imbibing wine. That it can have good or bad consequences. The manner of drinking and the nature of each person determine wine will feed the good sensations or the damages ones”