Only a very small proportion of the agricultural
land in Malta and Gozo is devoted to vines, vineyards ranging in
size from one-tenth of a hectare to about 20 hectares. Many of these
are privately owned and tended by part-time farmers. They are planted
mainly with the two indigenous Maltese grape varieties Ghirgentina
and Gellewza, using the low bush method and little irrigation.
Grapes are harvested at the end of August.
The white varietal Ghirgentina produces excellent quality refreshing
dry white wines with good flavour and depth of character. The red
variety Gellewza produces medium bodied easy drinking red wines
and award winning roses. The hot weather, clayish terrain and lack
of rain give Maltese wine a character of its own.
In the late 1970ís some of the islandís
larger wineries started planting new vineyards growing international
varieties. This shift was very important to Maltese wine-making,
because it allowed not only for the production of a better standard
of wine, but also allowed considerable diversification of the types
of wines produced.
Early experiments showed
that in spite of the mild winters and hot summers, noble grape varieties
could be grown in Malta, and that excellent wines could be made
These vineyards are either owned and run by the winery or fall under a
vineyard management scheme. The varieties that have been planted have
grown in number over the years, and include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet
Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Carigan, Ruby Cabernet,
Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Trebbiano and
Moscato. The vineyards use modern viticulture techniques including wire
training and drip irrigation. Although these vineyards are still in their
infancy the resulting fruit and wines show great potential. The wines
are elegant with rich, ripe concentrated depth of flavour.