Russia has overtaken and continues to cover the wine boom. The point is not only that more and more Russian people prefer wine to other drinks, although the statistics of wine consumption in Russia is steadily growing, and consumption of, for example, vodka is also steadily falling. Winemaking in Russia.
The point is that more and more wine is produced in Russia. By the way, contrary to popular belief, in Russia they consume mainly Russian wine the ratio with imports is 70 to 30. Another question is that in these 70 percent only 30 is real wine from grapes grown in Russia, and 40 is the so-called bulk, wine material. which is produced anywhere, but here it is simply brought to mind and bottled.
Meanwhile, according to the new Law on Wine, which came into force this summer, only a drink produced in Russia, from grapes grown in Russia, can be considered Russian wine. It is its producers that the state encourages and supports in every possible way. Everything else is henceforth called wine drinks, and, judging by the intentions of the state, will soon leave the market altogether.
Where did the wine come from
Winemaking in the Kuban and Crimea appeared even before our era, it was brought here by the ancient Greeks. The borders of the state, created by them in the northern Black Sea region of the Bosporus kingdom, surprisingly coincide with the area of modern Russian winemaking.
Colonizing this part of the world, the Greeks, of course, brought vines with them. But they did not go: the climate is different. And for a long time, wine was imported to the Bosporus kingdom from Greece, this is obvious from numerous archaeological finds. Until local varieties were bred, most likely by crossing local wild grapes with cultivated Greek ones.
But in fact, it is not completely clear what, when and where they brought it. Many researchers consider the Caucasus to be the ancestral home of grapes; most likely, it was from here that it spread throughout the world. That is, at first, a very long time ago, grapes from the Caucasus came to Greece, and then returned here in a cultivated form. Just as, by the way, it is no coincidence that Alma-Ata is called “the father of apples”: it is from there, as archaeologists have proved, that all the apples of the planet Earth originated.
LARGE AND SMALL. Winemaking in Russia
There are several dozen wine producers in the Kuban, not counting the “garage” ones from giants like Fanagoria to small family wineries like Nesterov Winery.
The same “Fanagoria”, located on the Taman Peninsula, from where the Crimea is visible in good weather, is still a Soviet giant that produced varietal grape juices (yes, there were such cabernet grape juice, merlot grape juice), as well as wine materials, but not finished wine That is why, unlike “Massandra” or “Abrau-Dyurso”, few people knew about “Fanagoria” until the 2000s.
Now the enterprise has been greatly reconstructed, it has a practically closed production starting from barrels and ending with the distillation of strong drinks from wine-making waste, the so-called pulp. In terms of scale and equipment, Fanagoria resembles a small petrochemical plant. There are 1,700 employees here, which is perhaps also a record for Russian winemaking companies. And the plant was named “Phanagoria” because it is located next to Phanagoria an ancient Greek city, the second capital of the Bosporus kingdom.
- 90,000 hectares of fruit-bearing vineyards in Russia. In order to fully provide the country with its own wine, 350,000 hectares of vineyards are needed.
- 1 300 000 tons was the gross harvest of grapes in the RSFSR in 1980. In 2019 in Russia 550 thousand tons.
- 300 enterprises and peasant farms in Russia grow grapes.
- 76 million decaliters of wine, sparkling wine and wine drinks were produced in Russia in 2019. A decaliter (dal) is 10 liters.
According to the Union of Winegrowers and Winemakers of Russia
WHAT ABOUT TOURISM
In all wine countries, tourism is an important part of the work of wineries. Who get a double benefit: directly money now, selling wine, feeding tourists in a restaurant and providing other services; and loyal fans for the future after returning to their cities, people will buy this particular wine simply because they know.
Not all Kuban wineries welcome tourists.
For example, the Burnier winery does not accept tourists yet, focusing on wine only.
“Gai-Kodzor” accepts, but you just don’t get in you have to sign up strongly in advance. But there are directly opposite examples: for example, the Chateau Pino winery near or rather, over Novorossiysk. The tourism component in its revenue is approximately equal to the proceeds from the sale of wine. Moreover, this is, perhaps, the first Russian winery, originally created to receive tourists as well. A gallery-balcony passes through all the shops, from which you can observe the processes, but at the same time do not interfere with production. Here is an excellent restaurant with a view of the Black Sea and Novorossiysk below, it serves, among other things, garden snails grown there and then.
And, for example, “Lefkadia” was generally created as a project for the development of a territory in which viticulture and winemaking are only one of the components, albeit the most important one.
The Nikolaev family, having sold a serious business in Moscow, bought 3,000 hectares around the village of Moldavanskoye and methodically transforms them no, not into Russian Bordeaux, but into the “Valley of Lefkadia” that’s how they called this territory. Cheese factory, oil press, lavender fields, ideal vineyards. The Nikolaevs were so confused that they brought from France seedlings of oaks specially infected with truffles. Let there be Russian truffles, since everything is so serious. Lefkadia has a wonderful hotel where, especially this year, everything has been booked many months in advance. And a wonderful Lokavorian restaurant that is, one that only cooks from local products.
In general, a winery is usually very beautiful. And in terms of the choice of location, and in architecture, and in the surrounding space, where in the foreground, of course, vineyards. For example, “Golubitskoye Estate” is a castle on a narrow strip of land between the Sea of Azov and the Akhtanizovsky estuary. In “Shumrinka” there are stunning views of endless vineyards and the beginning of the Caucasian ridge. What can we say about “Abrau-Dyurso”, which for 150 years has been developing not only as a winery, but also as a tourist cluster.
When they say “wine”, we immediately come to mind “cabernet sauvignon”, “merlot”, “chardonnay” in general, “international” grape varieties sold around the world. And they are also grown in Russia. But there are also Russian grape varieties, indigenous, they are called “autochthonous”. These are the varieties that have always grown here, and were not brought from somewhere.
There are no less than fifty Russian autochthons in total, the most famous are Krasnostop Zolotovsky, Tsimlyansky Black, Shoulder, and Kokur.
- The problem is that after Gorbachev’s felling of vineyards and the subsequent devastation of the 90s, they almost disappeared. Marina Bürnier says that when they planted vineyards in the early 2000s, they looked for the main Russian variety “Krasnostop” almost by their grandparents. And the local growers also told us why do you need these Russian varieties, bring Cabernet Sauvignon out of France, who needs this Krasnostop here. How can you disrespect the land you live on? she wonders.
- Fortunately, her husband Reno studied well at a Swiss university and knew very well that there is such a wonderful Russian “Krasnostop”, and where, if not in Russia, to grow it. They did find the “krasnostop” and were among the first to plant a vineyard.
Nowadays, making wine from Russian grapes is considered a sign of good taste among winemakers. Even if their collection is based on the same international “merlot” and “cabernet sauvignon”, planting at least some Russian varieties is considered a matter of honor just so that they continue to exist.
The production of seedlings, so that we have our own, and not imported, planting material, is actively subsidized by the Ministry of Agriculture.
If we are not talking about a shmurdyak like “The Whisper of a Monk”, but about the wine that both the law and the lovers call wine, then the question of price often arises. Many people, deciding to try Russian wine, are surprised that it turns out that it can cost a lot up to several thousand per bottle.
For an inexperienced reader, here are some approximate figures.
- For 250-400 rubles per bottle, you will receive high-quality table wine. Canteen means simple, not seasoned. This does not mean that it is bad, it is just simple, no frills, but real, high-quality wine.
- For 500-700 rubles per bottle, you can count on wines of a certain region of origin, it is with them that you can already discuss the nuances of taste, tannins and any other “roundness”.
- 700-1000 rubles are, as a rule, already matured and reserve wines, that is, the pride of winemakers. They should be bought for the holidays the pleasure is guaranteed.
- Roughly the same price parameters apply to sparkling wines. But here it is important to understand that there are two technologies.
Tank, conditional Italian, according to which the base prosecco, which is now fashionable, is obtained, it is also improved in the Soviet Union to continuous, when secondary fermentation takes place in large containers. Secondary because sparkling wine is made from ordinary wine, which is called “still”.
Classical technology, aka French, is when this very secondary fermentation takes place in a bottle, followed by aging on the lees for 9 months or more. In Russia, they produce both, and, moreover, the same factories, for example, the famous “Abrau-Dyurso”. Inexpensive sparkling wine is, of course, Italian technology, and expensive (about a thousand rubles or more) is classic.
Bottles, corks, barrels
Wine is not only the drink itself. Wine is also equipment, and a lot of everything for its production.
The cork oak, of course, does not grow in Russia. The cork comes mainly from Portugal. But there are two “buts” here: firstly, they say that the cork tree still grows in the Sochi region and in the Crimea, so it is possible that some enterprising people will master the production. Secondly, many manufacturers are gradually abandoning natural cork, switching to synthetic or generally to a bottle with a screw cap both for the sake of economy and for the sake of ecology. Ours are still shy, but, for example, the “Sikora” winery allows itself to “spin” even on good wines, and this does not make them worse.
But the majority of manufacturers use domestic bottles, they are produced by several factories at once.
As for oak barrels, they are also made, albeit very few. The largest cooper house, which belongs to Fanagoria, makes about 300 barrels of various capacities a month the giant himself would have had enough. They are made, by the way, from the local Caucasian oak. So at other wineries, the barrels are still mostly imported.
But, generally speaking, aging in oak is not necessary. Wine is aged in both metal and concrete containers so their production in Russia is gradually being mastered.
By the way, just like wine bottling lines many, mostly small, wineries use domestic ones.
REAL SYMBOL OF THE COUNTRY
Will Russia Become a World Wine Power?
It has already become. Russia is one of the ten largest world wine producers. Moreover, we export it quite successfully.
“When we used to bring our local wine to Switzerland,” says Marina Burnier, “everyone treated it as exotic. And now something like a fan club of Russian wine has been formed. Especially everyone is interested in “krasnostop” a powerful, very complex variety with a lot of different nuances, it is very gradually revealed and after that leaves no one indifferent. I think that “krasnostop” is the real symbol of Russia.