Russian Wine Regions

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Back in the Soviet days, Russia (including the republics of Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan) was the fourth biggest wine producers in the world, amounting to 4.8 billion liters of wine every year.

However, wine production by the 1990s had declined to 1.6 billion liters primarily due to former USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol drive, thereby destroying several vineyards and wine-producing facilities. By the time the Cold War ended and USSR became dissolved, efforts to rebuild the ailing wine industry has been slow yet steady. So-called "wineries" from some parts of the country have chosen to produce "wines" from fruit concentrate, making it far from being called a wine in its truest sense.

The wine market in Russia almost entirely a table wine market, although there is a rise in quality wine consumption in recent years especially among young people. These regions also produce high-quality red and white wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Aligote, and Muscat, as well as Russia’s indigenous varieties like Rkatsiteli and Saperavi.

All of Russia’s premiere wine producing regions are located on its southwest, nestled in between, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and Asov Sea.

Stavropol – It is one of Russia’s best agricultural regions, located north of the Caucasus mountains and stretches from the Krasnodar region on the west to Daghestan to its east. Despite having pockets of wineries scattered throughout the region, the total area of wineries is estimated to 7450 hectares and capable of producing up to 950,000 liters of wine every year. Considered for its dry wines based on Riesling and Sylvaner, as well as its muscats.

Krasnodar – The heart of Russia’s agricultural producing area, stretching from the Black Sea on the west to the Stravropol region on the east. Viticulture tradition in Krasnodar region dates back 2,500 years ago when Greeks were the primary settlers in the area (about 26,000 Greeks are currently living here). Over fifty percent of Russia’s vineyards are located in Krasnodar, cultivating extensive varieties such as Riesling, Aligote, Sauvignon, Semillon, Pinot Gris, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This region has an early growing season primarily due to its mild climate and excellent soil conditions.

Rostov-na-Donu – A part of a bigger Rostov Oblast region, located along the Don River near the Sea of Azov. Literally translated as "Rostov on the Don (River)," this city has extensive vineyards. Most popular for its red Tsimlyansky that is best described as ranging from dry to sweetest.

Dagestan – A semi-autonomous republic in Russia, located north of the Caucasus Mountains and along the shores of the Caspian Sea. Because of its mountainous terrain, the region is a great location to produce red and dessert wines, with most of its vineyards located around the capital Makhachkala.