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Crimea expects winemaking boom

July 31, 2014, 18:55 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Alexei Pavlishak

MOSCOW, July 31. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia can considerably reduce vine imports from traditional wine countries such as France, Italy and Spain in the near future. Experts predict a winemaking boom with a special contribution by Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. All the more so as foreign companies plan to participate despite the sanctions.

Legal entities for foreign investments can be set up in Russian territory, the then aide to the interim head of the region Rustam Temirgaliev said on Tuesday. “We’ll revive winemaking with investments from French and Swiss companies and even a Finnish company,” he said. Swiss companies demonstrated special interest in Novy Svet company specializing in sparkling wines.

Winegrowing was neglected when Crimea was when part of Ukraine, with resorts built on the territories of many vineyards and recovery will take about 5-7 years, he added. Meanwhile, great opportunities for elite winemaking are offered by Sevastopol, said former city governor Alexey Chalyi.

French actor G·rard Depardieu who has Russian citizenship has already been proposed as Crimea’s chief winegrower to head the planned state committee on winemaking. Crimea’s interim governor Sergey Aksyonov did not rule out Depardieu’s professional advice could come in useful.

Winemaking is second most important sector for the peninsula after tourism giving employment to 150,000. Russia without Crimea has 60,000 hectares of wineyards, Crimea - more than 30,000, the city of Sevastopol - about 8,000. Crimea is home to ten winemaking factories.

Immediately after the referendum on Crimea’s accession to Russia the region’s winemakers addressed Russian business ombudsman Boris Titov in a letter expressing concerns about decreasing vineyard areas and obsolete equipment at the factories. Another concern is Russia’s much higher wine excise.

Even so, Crimeans do not fear competition with winemakers elsewhere in Russia, in particular those in Krasnodar Territory, as imported wines are their arch-rivals, Novy Svet director Yanina Pavlenko is quoted by FederalPress agency.

Russian winemakers unite for the sake of common interests, she added. “For comparison, in 2012, 980 million bottles of wine were sold in Russia, and importers sold 450 million. This is a huge amount! Our chief goal is to protect our market,” said Pavlenko.

As Crimea joined the Russian Federation, the government decided to tackle Russian winemaking problems in earnest. At a special meeting in Abrau-Durso, a settlement home to a famous similarly named sparkling wine producer, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev promised winegrowers support and the long-expected Law on Wine, as well as higher state subsidies.

A total of 310 million rubles ($8.7 million) will be allocated for winegrowing development, Crimea’s Minister of Agriculture Nikolay Polyushkin said in July. By 2020, the peninsula will boast 140,000 hectares of vineyards.

Crimean winemakers believe they are on the threshold of better times. According to chairman of Crimean independent winemakers association Pavel Shvets, Russia will soon see a winemaking boom with its epicenter in Sevastopol.

 

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