$100m for grapevine breeding in Crimea as Russia’s wine habits turn local

Russian wine buying habits are being increasingly influenced by a patriotic wish to buy locally produced wines, Bloomberg reports.

Having been squeezed by the recession, Russia has experienced a social shift in wine buying habits as consumers move increasingly in favour of locally produced Russian wines rather than imported wines. The country is also looking to invest $100m into grapevine breeding in Crimea.

Sergey Aksenovskiy, brand sommelier at the Maison Dellos group of restaurants in Russia, told Bloomberg; “Russian officials recently stopped ordering the most expensive Burgundy and Bordeaux. They’ve been told not to show off amid the economic crisis.”

In 2014, Russia was the fifth-biggest wine buying country globally, but this year the imports have already decreased by thirty three percent.
According to Bloomberg: “Premium Black Sea marks like Abrau-Durso’s Usadba Divnomorskoye have benefited from the ruble’s 40 percent decline since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine last March, while Italian and French labels have suffered the most”.

Various winemakers and local producers who invested in high quality wines years ago have been the first to benefit from this change of habit, such as winemaker Mikhail Nikolaev, who invested $100 million into his Crimean winery Lefkadia, and sought help from experienced Bordelais winemaker Patrick Leon who worked at Château Mouton Rothschild.

Furthermore, Vitaly Polishchuk, Crimea’s minister of agriculture revealed that $100m will be used for grapevine breeding at one of Crimea’s biggest agricultural research centres, the Magarach Institute and the Nikitsky Botanical Garden.

This is the latest of investments from Russia into Crimean winemaking after Russia took control over the Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. A Russian government plan aims to make the country’s wine industry self-sufficient in terms of grapevine planting material by 2020. If Crimea is successful in this grapevine project, there is a plan to develop similar breeding centres in further Russian winemaking regions.

Written by: Lucy Prosser

Lucy Prosser 


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