At present, coffee is the beverage most associated with Ethiopia, one of Africa’s poorest countries, but it could soon become wine. According to The Guardian, Castel, a large French beer and wine company, has begun to bottle its first round of Ethiopian-grown wines.
In an effort to better its image abroad, the conglomerate began to cultivate vineyards in 2007 transplanting 750,000 vines from Bordeaux. Merlot, syrah and cabernet sauvignon grapes were grown for the red “Rift Valley” blend, which makes up about 90% of production. The remainder was dedicated to chardonnay for a smaller run of white.
Castel plans to up production from its current 1.2 million bottles to 3 million within the next few years. With half of the present product slated for export, already 26,000 have been swept up by a Chinese buyer. The question is, is production sustainable in such wild country? Castel is doing what it can to protect its crop: “[Vineyards] are surrounded by a two-metre-wide trench to deter pythons, hippopotamuses and hyenas.” [The Guardian] [Photo: Flickr/Phalinn Ooi]