The production of wine in Ethiopia can be traced to the early centuries of the first millennium A.D. The historian Richard Pankhurst observed that early references to Axumite wine can be found in one of the stele erected by the 4th century ruler Ezana. Aksumite viticulture is also attested to by carvings on the base of the great 3rd century obelisk at Axum. The traditional honey wine tej has also long been widely popular.
Contemporary viticulture in Ethiopia dates to 1956, to the establishment of the Awash Winery by entrepreneur Mulugeta Tesfakiros. As of 2014 the Awash winery had an annual output of 10 million bottles, most of which is consumed locally. In 2014 the French beverage corporation Castel began producing wines of a number of varieties on a 120-hectare estate near Ziway in the Ethiopian Rift Valley. As of 2013 annual production was 3 million bottles, approximately half of which was exported, mainly to China.
Climatic and geographic conditions in the Rift Valley make it well suited to viticulture. Annual rainfall measures about 650 mm, temperatures average 25 degrees Celsius per year and the region enjoys sandy soils, which are ideal conditions for wine production. Furthermore, due to Ethiopia’s proximity to the equator, it is possible to make two harvests per year. The western slopes of the Ethiopian highlands also enjoy an inland Mediterranean climate, also conducive to wine-growing.
- "Ethiopian Wine: the Revival of an Ancient Tradition". Embassy of Ethiopia to Belgium. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
- Dibaba, Solomon (12 May 2016). "Wine-Making in Ethiopia - Cultural, Historical and Economic Significance". The Ethiopian Herald. Retrieved 5 September 2017.