The former USSR state and now independent republic is the ninth largest country in the world with around 2.7 million square kilometres. The only border in the north is with Russia. Only just under 4% of Kazakhstan's vast land area offers favourable climatic and soil conditions for viticulture. Evidence of grape cultivation dates back to the 7th century BC. Vine cultivation on a larger scale began in the 1930s. At that time, numerous fruit and wine-growing kolkhozes were established in the south and south-east of the country on the border with China in the areas of Almaty, Qysylorda and Shambyl.
The continental climate is characterised by very cold winters and low rainfall. Therefore, artificial irrigation with water from the Syr-Darya and Ili rivers is necessary for the most part. In 2012, the vineyard area covered 13,000 hectares, from which 155,000 hectolitres of wine were produced (see also under wine production volumes). About one third of this is table grapes. Specialities are fortified dessert wines and sparkling wines. The former capital Almaty (Alma-Ata) is the centre of sparkling wine production. The grape variety index 2010