New is well forgotten old: history of Ukrainian wine-making
Although the world has just begun to discover the tastes and aromas of Ukrainian wine, the history of wine-making in Ukraine dates back to ancient times. It is believed that the Greeks were the first to introduce viticulture to the region in the 5th century BCE.
The Scythians, known for their nomadic lifestyle, also made wine.
In the 9th century, the Slavic tribes living in Ukraine started growing grapes and producing wine, which became an essential part of their culture and traditions. By the 10th century, vineyards had spread throughout the whole region.
Wine production in Ukraine peaked during the 18th and 19th centuries when Austria-Hungary, russia, and Poland controlled the country. During this time, wine-making techniques were modernized, and new grape varieties were introduced.
The 20th century witnessed a decline in wine-making due to the Soviet era, which imposed collectivization and industrialization policies, resulting in the loss of many vineyards and traditional grape varieties. However, a few local wineries still managed to survive and produce wine.
Since Ukraine gained independence in 1991, the wine industry has been slowly recovering. There has been a renewed interest in traditional wine-making techniques recently, and many new wineries have emerged.
Today, Ukraine is home to over 150 wineries, with the majority located in the country's southern regions. Ukrainian wine is gaining recognition internationally, with several wineries winning medals at prestigious international wine competitions. The wine-making industry in Ukraine continues to grow, focusing on quality over quantity and a return to traditional technologies.
What is the problem?
Ukrainian wine at war
russia's war against Ukraine, which began in 2014, greatly affected the country's wine industry. Since the russian federation launched its invasion, vineyards and wineries in the country's eastern regions, where much of the wine production takes place, have been damaged or destroyed. The county's first wine-making region – Crimea, which is located in the southern part of Ukraine – was occupied in 2014.
Moreover, that had a negative impact on wine tourism in the country, which is a significant source of revenue for many wineries. In particular, the occupation of Crimea by russia has led to a decrease in visitors to wineries in the region. While fierce battles are ongoing in the South and the East of Ukraine, Ukrainian winemakers are to produce wine under constant shelling, risking their lives. Some wineries are still occupied.
Many specialists in the Ukrainian wine industry have joined Ukraine's army to resist russian occupiers. The news reports that two Ukrainian winemakers and seven wine trade professionals have died in the fighting.
In addition, the fighting has disrupted transportation routes, making it difficult to get supplies to wineries and ship wine to markets in other parts of Ukraine and abroad. Also, business reports indicate the loss of nearly half of the country's wine imports.
What is the solution?
Know and support Ukraine's wine
While Ukraine's armed forces are doing their best to eliminate the most significant problem – the russian occupiers – that prevents Ukrainian wineries from developing, everyone can also support Ukrainian winemakers by buying Ukrainian wine.
Wine regions in Ukraine to pay attention to
Currently, the country boasts many remarkable wine-making regions, each with its own unique characteristics and offerings. Here are some of the best-known wine-making regions in Ukraine.
1️⃣ Crimea. It is one of the oldest and most important wine-making regions in Ukraine and produces a variety of white, red, and dessert wines. The climate in Crimea is perfect for viticulture. After the de-occupation of the Crimean Peninsula by Ukraine's armed forces, tourists will be able to visit the Tavria Cellars. This winery is well-known for its unique approach to winemaking, using traditional methods and local grapes to create a truly one-of-a-kind wine experience.
2️⃣ The Odesa region. The region is known for its red wines, which are made mainly of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir grapes as well as the indigenous Ukrainian grape varieties Telti Kuruk and Odesa Black. The unique climate and the fertile soil make Odesa wines tastier, and wide varieties of wine have been awarded prestigious international awards. Among the most famous wineries located in the region are Shabo Winery, Kolonist Winery, and Guliev Wines, which produce a wide variety of wines, from reds to whites to sparkling wines.
3️⃣ Transcarpathia (the Zakarpattia region). The region is located in the western part of Ukraine and is known for its white wines and features unique grape varieties such as Riesling and Traminer. Transcarpathia also produces some premium red wines, including Cabernet and Merlot. Visitors can enjoy wine tasting while admiring the stunning mountain views. The recommended wineries to visit are Chateau Chizay, Contar, and Stakhovsky Wines.
4️⃣ The Kherson region. The last region is a relatively new winemaking region, but it is making a name for itself through exceptional production. Kherson, located in the Southern part of Ukraine, is considered one of the continent's largest wine regions. It is famous for its semi-sweet dessert wines, produced in the region's favorable climate. Trubetskoy Chateau and Inkerman are the region's wine visit cards.
Moreover, many local craft wineries producing quality wines can be found throughout Ukraine.
Why choose Ukraine's wines?
There are several reasons why foreigners should choose Ukrainian wine brands.
- Unique flavor profiles: Ukrainian wines offer an exciting range of flavor profiles that can differ from what one would typically find in other parts of the world.
- Rich history: Ukrainian winemaking dates back to ancient times, making it a part of the country's long and rich history.
- Affordable prices: Ukrainian wines are typically quite affordable, making them an excellent option for those on a budget.
- Quality control: Ukrainian winemakers take great pride in the quality of their wines and adhere to strict quality control guidelines.
Artwinery, Ukraine's leading sparkling wine producer, had to move from its base and historic cellars as its winery in Bakhmut was destroyed after fierce fighting. Still, the winery announced the release of a new sparkling wine named "Peremoha" (Victory).
Whether you're a fan of white or red, sweet or dry, you will surely find something to suit your tastes. Plan your visit to Ukraine after the war or order Ukrainian wines and discover the country's booming wine industry.