Ukrainian Wine Regions

Monday, June 25th, 2007 at 12:00 am

ukrainian vineyardUkraine is no stranger to wine. The country’s local wine industry has been around for quite a while and is known to produce great wine brands. The quality of the wines grown and processed in Ukraine is good enough to be exported to its neighboring countries in the European Union and North America. There are basically six main wine regions in Ukraine, the Crimea, Odessa, Kherson, Nikolayev, Transpcarpathia and Zaporozhy regions.

Like what have been mentioned before, the wine industry in Ukraine is a well established one taking roots at Crimea during the early parts of the 4th century B.C. There have been presses and amphoras unearthed in the southern coasts of Crimea indicating that early settlers were already into wine production or making of any alcoholic drinks.

Centuries later, the Ukrainians did not lose their taste for wine. It was estimated that during the days of the Soviet era the total area of vineyards in Ukraine was more than 250,000 hectares. Ukraine had such a huge area of grape cultivated lands and had a high production of wine that it supplied most of the wines in the USSR. But when the USSR collapsed, the wine industry suffered as well. About 80,000 hectares of vineyards were destroyed.

Fortunately, Ukraine’s wine industry recovered well and now enjoys better days. Among the wine regions in Ukraine, Crimea historically and still enjoys having the biggest area devoted to viticulture, about 63,000 hectares. Crimea is followed by Odessa at 50,000 hectares, then Kherson with 20,000 hectares, Nikolayev at 15,000 hectares, Transpcarpathia with an estimated area of 7,000 hectares, and Zaporozhy with roughly 2,000 hectares.

Among the regions, Crimea also remains to have the most favorable climate and soil properties for growing grapes. Popular grapes in Ukraine include Rkatsiteli, Aligote, Riesling, Saperavi, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Vert, Bastardo Magarach, Golubuk, Pervenets Magaratcha, Saperavi severnyi, Podarok Magaratcha, Fieltovy Rami, Karmraiut, Olimpiiski, and Stepniak. The very first vineyards in Crimea were cultivated in and around Yalta, which is also known today as a major tourist destination.

It was in the 19th century that Prince Lev Golitsyn and Count Mikhail Vorontsov began importing grapes and cultivating them on Crimean lands. Most of the varieties used were Semillon, Aligote, Pedro Ximenez and Pinot. You can find in the city the Magarch Wine Institute. The institute has produced 20,000 different wines from 3,200 vine species.

Meanwhile, Krym vineyards were cultivated with mostly Vinifera varieties. The stocks used in Krym were grafted onto phylloxera-resistant root stocks. They also cultivate Muscadines as well as a number of table grapes whenever they are able to. The same can be said with vineyards in Tauria.

In general, Ukrainians love sweet sparkling wine which is the reason why such wines are often in large quantities. The cities of Kiev, Lvov, Odessa and Kharkow are known areas where good quality sparkling wines are produced. The Pinot Blanc, Aligote, Riesling and Feteaska varieties of grapes are the most commonly used in creating sweet wines.

The country’s 290 days of frost-free days produces grapes that are harvested ripe. Some even intentionally overripe the grapes before harvesting so that they will add a natural sweetness to the wines.