You probably see Belgium as the Beer Country. And yet, Belgium used to produce a lot of wine in the Middle Ages, just like most European countries.
Vines appeared quite early in Belgium, during the 8th century.
Viticulture was actually so important during the 14th century, that most Belgian towns had their own vineyards. And today many street names refer to this golden age in the country.
But because of the quite harsh climate, beer brewing was given preference in the 15th century.
In the 1980’s a wind of change rose on Belgian vineyards.
Flanders was the first region to be granted a Belgian PDO in 1997, in Hageland.
In 2004, it was the turn of Wallonia, with the Côtes de Sambre et Meuse PDO.
In 2021, Belgium counted 5 PDOs and 4 PGIs.
As climate change is gradually moving northwards the limit where viticulture can take place, it gets easier to produce quality wines in the country, although late spring frosts and heavy rainfall remain major risks for the vineyards.
In 2019, Belgian vineyards extend over 440 hectares.
Of the 70 grape varieties found in Belgium, 34 are identified in the Belgian appellations. The main varieties grown in Belgium are: Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Müller-thurgau, Pinot gris, Regent, Auxerrois, Pinot blanc, Sieger, Dornfelder, Muscats, Riesling, Sirius, Léon Millot, Solaris and Gerwürztraminer.
The country mainly produces sparkling wines (48% of volumes), especially in Wallonia, and white wines (32%), with smaller quantities of red and rosé (20%).