2023 harvest: ‘The motivated endure’
The 2023 Ukrainian wine harvest reflects winemakers’ resolve. Amid the ongoing conflict, vintners display remarkable resilience; diligently tending vineyards, producing wines and exporting their products worldwide. Despite unique challenges, winemakers remain optimistic.
According to the Wines of Ukraine website: ‘Six wine regions have been officially approved in Ukraine. This is an outdated norm in our legislation, which has been in effect since Soviet times and does not correspond to today’s realities. The Association of Craft Winemakers of Ukraine [aka Wines of Ukraine] is actively working to expand the winemaking area to most of Ukraine. A large number of new wineries that have appeared in the last 5 years are located in cool climates.’
Svitlana Tsybak, CEO of Beykush Winery, reflected on a challenging 18 months, ‘Beykush is a family-owned winery that spans just 13 hectares, it’s located two kilometres from the occupied area. When full-scale war erupted last year, we faced uncertainty about our winemaking prospects. In July, we decided to bottle wines initially prepared before the war’s outbreak. We also dedicated ourselves to caring for the vineyards. Last September yielded high-quality grapes due to dry, hot weather, with no issues in the vineyard. This year could be a mixed bag – I hear reports of unfavourable weather conditions from Zakarpattia (near the Hungarian border). However, due to last year’s success, we expect to increase our production by 20% this year, thanks to two additional hectares maturing, despite the rockets above us.’
Tania Olevska, owner of Friends Wine Travel, added, ‘Winemakers had no alternative but to continue nurturing vineyards and pursuing their craft. Emotionally, it’s crucial to stay engaged during wartime; otherwise, despair takes hold. Thus, despite the conflict, we enjoyed a bountiful harvest last year. This year is looking promising too.’
Kolonist Winery, founded by the Plachkov family in Bessarabia, exemplifies resilience and growth. Initially producing 30,000 bottles annually, it has expanded to 350,000 bottles, with 63ha of vineyards. The portfolio features classic aged whites and reds, semi-dry, sweet and sparkling styles. Its specialities, Odesa black and Sukholymanske white, highlight Ukraine’s indigenous array. Even during the conflict’s early stages, when alcohol sales faced restrictions and night-time lights were banned, the winery persisted. It opened its doors to families from occupied regions and provided humanitarian aid. Hryhoriy Plachkov, co-owner of the winery, presently serves as a military officer.
Former tennis star Sergiy Stakhovsky, who now fights on the frontline against Russian, is the owner of Stakhovsky Wines in the Zakarpattia region. He spoke with decanter.com as he landed back in Kyiv safely, reflecting on the last two vintages, ‘We have 22.5 hectares of vines, producing 10,000 cases yearly. The 2022 vintage was very powerful and charismatic, but missile attacks left us without power for 2 weeks. The 2023 harvest faced weather instability, in our region, but we won’t fully know the results as we are just preparing for harvest starting the last week of September. Overall, the Russian invasion devastated wineries, making it difficult for the wineries to survive, but motivated vine growers and winemakers endure.’
Status quo: An overview of Ukrainian winemaking
The success stories highlighted above should not mask the devastating effect the conflict has had on some regional wine production. Many occupied regions have suffered significant impacts, leading to the loss of wineries in Kherson and other areas, producers said.
Tsybak, who is also founder of Wines of Ukraine, a pivotal organisation championing domestic producers born out of the collaborative spirit when the conflict started, anticipated it would take at…
Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/ukraine-wine-harvest-2023-sipping-resilience-512303/