Briefly and by periods about the history of Ukrainian winemaking.

The history of the development of wine-making culture on the territory of Ukraine can be traced back to the 4th century BC. Wine presses and other wine-making tools were found on the southern coast of Crimea.

"Well, here is an amphora from the time of Diogenes - IV century BC. The amphorae had a volume of approximately 12-15 liters," says Oleksiy Kulikov, a ceramic processing laboratory specialist, talking about the findings of excavations in the north-east of Crimea.

The Greeks imported their grape varieties here and cultivated them, developing winemaking. From here, viticulture spread to other regions of Ukraine. So, the rich and long history of Ukrainian winemaking did not begin with independence in 1991. Like all our culture, winemaking in Ukraine has a long, interesting, and fascinating history of development with its declines and failures.

  1. The first period in the history of Ukrainian winemaking is the Middle Ages. Viticulture and wine production were widespread in Kyivan Rus. Wine was used as a drink at many ceremonial events and in everyday life.

Historical information confirms that until the 11th and 12th centuries, viticulture and winemaking developed in the lands of northern Ukraine. During this period, almost all the most famous wine-growing regions of Europe were defined. In Ukraine, a large part of vineyards belonged to monasteries, in particular, Kyiv-Pechersk. Viticulture in the Middle Ages was close to modern technology in terms of complexity, but winemaking itself was very far from modern methods, so wine was consumed within one year after preparation, as this was the maximum period during which the wine would not spoil. Thus, winemaking in Ukraine in the Middle Ages was a significant branch of the economy, which played an important socio-cultural and economic role in the life of the population of that time. Wines and grapes were used as part of cultural heritage and were not only a product but also a symbol of important events and solemn moments. It is safe to say that Ukrainian winemaking in the Middle Ages developed in step with the rest of Europe.

  1. The second stage can be called the development of winemaking in Crimea in the 18th and 19th centuries. At that time, winemaking in Crimea was of great importance for the economy of the region and for the Russian Empire as a whole. Crimea was an important producer of wine due to its vineyards and favorable climate for growing grapes. In 1783, Empress Catherine II annexed Crimea and joined it to the Russian Empire. The authorities of the region invested efforts in the development of the wine sector, creating wineries and promoting viticulture. In 1829, the governor of Bessarabia, Count Mykhailo Vorontsov, planted new grape plantations near Yalta and founded a winemaking farm. Also in 1828, he founded the Magarach Research and Production Plant. From the end of the 18th century and during the 19th century, winemaking in Crimea began to rise to a new level. Many wineries were modernized, new varieties of grapes appeared, production technologies were improved. Crimean wines gained popularity both within and outside the empire. A great contribution to the development of the industry was made by the founder of the domestic wine industry, Prince Lev Golitsyn, who mastered the production of champagne by the classic bottle method in his own estate "Novyi Svit" near Sudak. In general, winemaking in Crimea in the 18th and 19th centuries had a gradual and stable development, was an important component of the region's economy, and was modernized in step with the times.
  2. The third stage is the development of industrial winemaking. The beginning of the development of industrial winemaking is determined at the end of the 19th century when an industrial winemaking farm was founded in the Yalta district - "Masandra" with a winery and cellars. Now it takes its place in the "Guinness Book of Records" as a place of storage of the largest collection of wines and is one of the largest industrial wineries in Ukraine and Europe. In the 20th century, a significant rise in viticulture and winemaking began in all wine-growing territories of Ukraine, as well as the development of new lands for vineyards. Although in the first half of the 20th century, winemaking in Ukraine developed very slowly due to restrictions, after the Second World War, numerous wineries were established in Ukraine, specializing in the production of champagne, fortified, and table wines. Therefore, the transition to the era of industrial winemaking, despite the limitations and obstacles, was successful because in this period the realization of the real winemaking potential of Ukraine began.
  3. However, what happened next was the Ukrainian SSR. Although in the 60s of the last century, vineyards on the territory of Ukraine occupied 400,000 hectares, and Ukraine took the first place in the USSR in terms of the area of ​​vineyards, and the second - in terms of wine production, since 1971, the area of ​​vineyards has decreased by 50%. Conventionally, this period can be further divided into three stages:

1. Transfer of vineyards to grafted culture (1971-1984)

2. Period of anti-alcohol campaign (1985-1988)

3. Times of perestroika (1988-1991)

The biggest damage to the wine industry of Ukraine was caused by the anti-alcohol campaign, during which 80,000 hectares of vineyards were destroyed. Wine consumption per capita in Ukraine in 1980 was 16.9 liters per person, and in 1997 it was already 1 liter per person. As of the summer of 2021, the vineyard area has decreased by nearly 5 times, grape wine production by 5.6 times, and per capita wine consumption by 16 times. Until the beginning of the 90s of the last century, Ukrainian winemaking was one of the significant sources of replenishment of the state budget. At various international wine, "cognac," and "champagne" competitions, vintage products of the USSR invariably won Grand Prix cups, gold, and silver medals.

  1. The fifth stage is the period after the restoration of independence. With the period of the USSR, everything was clear, the anti-alcohol campaign, the destruction of vineyards, but after the restoration of independence, everything had to change, and it did change a little. A sharp drop in incomes of the population reduced the demand for wine production because it is not a commodity of basic necessity (and for nothing). And so the small volumes of wine production in 1990 decreased in 1998 by 73%. Viticulture and winemaking of Ukraine were closely connected with other union republics. Winemaking equipment was manufactured and delivered to Ukraine from Georgia, Russia, and Moldova. With the collapse of the USSR, these ties were broken, and since then, Ukraine has been solving all wine production issues independently. However, in small steps, Ukraine is restoring wine production and creating new craft wineries. In 2019, Ukrainian sparkling wine entered the TOP-10 best at the London Wine Competition. In 2021, Ukraine brought 29 awards from the Decanter World Wine Awards

So our task now is to support the development of winemaking and craft winemakers who create unique vintages that impress and captivate not only the whole world but also Ukrainians.

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