A brief history of the vineyard
Viticulture appeared thousand years ago in Tunisia, under the influence of the Phoenicians.
Tunisia has experienced many foreign influences: from the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, to the Byzantines.
And the creation of a stable vineyard took some time.
In the 7th century, Muslims established a government and the culture of wine almost disappeared in the country for a thousand years, before being revived by the French protectorate in the 1880s.
In the 1990s, the country’s policy supported the rise of a more sustainable viticulture, concerned with the quality of the production.
Foreign investments in the vineyard and the modernization of infrastructures confirmed Tunisia’s potential. And the country started producing great vintages that won medals in international competitions.
Today, Tunisia celebrates its vineyards, through multiple wine tourism circuits.
Extent of the vineyard
The Tunisian vineyard now extends over 14,000 ha.
It produces more than 40 million liters of wine per year. And tourists are responsible for about 50% of the consumption.
The main wine regions are
- The Cap Bon region: it represents 80% of production. There is the Kelibia appellation, on siliceous soils, and the Mornag appellation, which authorizes blended wines of various grape varieties.
- The vineyards around Tunis: by the sea. The Mornag appellation is produced there.
- The region of Beja Jendouba, in the northwest of Tunisia: with a continental microclimate favorable to viticulture, wines produced there are AOC 1er cru of superior quality such as: Clos de Thibar or Old Thibar, and Château Khanguet.
- The valleys of Medjerdah and Oued Meliane near Tunis. The vines flourish mainly on hillsides and benefit from an average annual temperature of 20° maximum.
There are seven AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) which are:
Grand Cru Mornag, with generous and full-bodied wines.
- Coteaux d’Utique, known for their finesse of bouquet and their velvety palate.
- Sidi Salem
- Kelibia is made from a single grape variety, Muscat d’Alexandrie, also called “Muscat de Kélibia”, fruity and dry.
Typical grape varieties and wines
The grape varieties cultivated in Tunisia are mostly international varieties.
Among the red grape varieties are Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
And among the whites, there are varieties such as Chardonnay, Muscat, Viognier, Sauvignon Blancpour.