At first glance, Russia doesn’t look like a wine country: it’s famous for vodka, cold weather and long winters, which give a totally different impression. However, the country does boast several regions with the perfect climate for wine cultivation and for growing some grapes not found anywhere else. Here are some of the local wines worth trying.
Alma Valley winery is based in Crimea in the valley of the Alma River, which has a mild climate. The winery comprises 160 hectares of vineyards and is equipped to produce around 3 million bottles of wine per year. The winery releases five lines: Base Level, Special Cuvees, Upper Line, Reserve Wines and Ice Wines. Each line is distinct, but the Ice Wine is perhaps most unique, as the grapes are harvested in late autumn or winter, when the temperatures drop below -8C.
Gai-Kodzor is just five kilometres from the sea, near Anapa, and it is surrounded by the mountains. The unique climate and soils make it possible to grow grapes of the highest quality. Gai-Kodzor wines are divided into restaurant and retail. White wines from the restaurant category are usually mono-grape and are very pure and fresh. Reds and rosés in this category are either mono-grape or created using a classic combination. Retail wines are produced in lower quantities and consist of Gai-Kodzor Chardonnay, Gai-Kodzor Merlot-Grenache and Gai-Kodzor Shiraz.
Fanagoria was founded more than half a century ago on the site of the ancient town of Phanagoria. Today, it is among the leading wineries in Russia, occupying 2,300 hectares and delivers a full grape life cycle, from cultivating seedlings through producing the wine. Their wines are truly impressive. Some of the more notable collections include the Autochthon line, which is made using only autochthon local grapes; the Authoring line, made according to special recipes of Fanagoria masters; and the premium 100 shades line, created with the finest grapes.
Abrau Durso was founded on Lake Abrau in 1870 under a special direction of Tsar Alexander II and is acclaimed for their sparkling wines, which was the favourite drink of Russian aristocrats and emperors. Nowadays it is served on special occasions in Kremlin. One of their most popular lines is the Russian Sparkling Wine, which is a must-have on special occasions. It has a perfect balance, the result of a collaboration between Russian and French winemakers.
Yubileinaya was founded in 2011 in the Krasnodar region, between the Azov and Black Seas. This unique location and climate allows the winemakers to grow and cultivate a huge number of grapes, among them international classics and some autochthon grapes. Yubileinaya offers a wide selection, but for local grapes, opt for the Select line, which includes dry whites and dry reds made exclusively with local autochthon grapes.
Vedernikov is the northernmost winery in Russia, situated on the River Don in the Rostov region. Out of their 160 hectares of vineyards, 40 hectares are dedicated to autochthon cossack wine grapes. Vedernikov specialises in premium-quality white and red wines, though they have some rosé, as well. The winery uses three unique grapes with profiles that are unlike any other in the world: Krasnostop Zolotovsky, Sibirsky and Tsimlyansky Chernyi.
Massandra is a historical wine producer that was established in 19th century. For some time, it was under the direction of Prince Lev Golitsyn, who was famous for his wine producing business and experience. Situated in a stunning area of Crimea, the winery was frequently visited by Russian tsars and aristocrats. Today, Massandra is especially famous for its dessert and liquor wines, such as muscat. Their most popular ports are the Livadia and Massandra, which are also called tsar wines, as they were the most beloved ones by Nicolas II, the Russia’s last tsar.