Wine and War: the Current Ukraine War and Past Experiences of France and Portugal
How the World Beverage Industry is Supporting Ukraine
About the Ukraine: Wine and War
As reported by JancisRobinson.com Purple Pages, and the Wine Bureau Team in “Letters from Kyiv,” the Ukraine wine industry, like all other industries in Ukraine, is in disarray. The overwhelming concern, of course, is for the three million+ people who have been displaced, half of whom are children.
With Ukrainian cities now encircled and being bombed, supply chains are in tatters. Ukraine’s primary income comes from agricultural activity, which is being fully impaired by the war. The sale of alcohol is forbidden by the government in the time of war, so Ukrainian wine producers have no domestic business, and international orders and exports are almost impossible to fulfill. They also have almost no winery and vineyard employees available, as men either volunteered for the Ukraine army or were called up. Some employees “are simply afraid to work because the roads can be very dangerous, as the Russians are actively shooting civilian cars on the highways,” notes members of the Wine Bureau team, 23March 2022.
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The Ukraine wine industry had gained ground in the wine world since the fall of the old Soviet Union. Ukraine has over sixty designated viticultural regions, and has established their own wine laws. Many of Ukraine’s growing regions are found in the sunnier sections of Crimea, the Black Sea, and the Carpathian Mountains in the southwest. Although the wine production is minuscule compared to the agricultural production of wheat and vegetable oil, Ukraine has been the most significant post-Soviet Union wine producing country until this point. See below: How the World Beverage Industry is Supporting Ukraine.
About Stakhovsky Wines- Wine from the Best Ukrainian Tennis Player, Sergiy Stakhovsky
Right now, Stakhovsky Wines in Zakarpattia, western Ukraine, desperately needs 36,000 empty bottles to bottle their current vintage of “Ace by Stakhovsky.” They have a bottling line and word has gone out to the wine world for help in finding bottles for them.
Sergiy Stakhovsky decided to engage in winemaking at the end of 2015 - after being exposed to wine culture while competing in tennis for Vila Primrose (Bordeaux, France). Sergiy rented 20 hectares of wineries in Zakarpattia and began to cultivate the existing grape varieties Merlot, Saperavi, Rose Traminer, Chardonnay, Riesling, Zweigelt, and Cabernet Sauvignon. For two years the team of Stakhovsky Wines was planting vines, putting pillars, and replanting plots. In 2018 the first harvest was sent for maturation in French oak barrels. We hope that this endeavor endures past the current war.
Wine and War: Past Experiences of France and Portugal, and the Current Ukraine Refugees
Ukraine is just the most recent war-torn area whose wine fortunes have been stunted or decimated by war. See Above book: Wine and War: The French, the Nazis & the Battle for Frances’ Greatest Treasure. This remarkable book details the untold story of France’s courageous and clever vintners who protected and rescued the country’s most reassured commodity (wine) from German plunder during World War II. In 1940, France fell to the Nazis and almost immediately the German army began a campaign to pillage the French wine. Many producers took some daring measures to save their crops, protecting and hiding the stored bottles, and fooling the Nazis with adulterated fake wine. What a story.
This was not the first time France had to protect its famous wine industry and people. See my article in PrimeWomen Magazine: “Champagne Region: Luxury Brands Steeped in History.” The caves or creyères holding the aging Champagne bottles served an important function in World War I, sheltering the Champenoise people from the German bombings. Currently, Veuve Clicquot alone has approximately 15 miles of caves. Now, March 2022, the French government is preparing to accommodate 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
Similarly, the Port and Portuguese wine market and the Portuguese people have been affected by wars these last centuries. The industry is heavily dependent on exports, and the port trade is most vulnerable to international wars. In 1756, the Douro regions was declared the world’s first legally demarcated wine region. In the 19th century, the French and Spanish armies invaded Portugal, and occupied the town of Oporto, center of the Port industry, for three months. In 1820, Portugal erupted into a civil war, and Oporto experienced an 18-month siege reducing the population to starvation. In 1914 with the outbreak of World War I, the combat-age men left the industry to fight in the trenches on the side of the Allies. In 1939, when World War II broke out, the Port trade lost its export markets and supposedly no port company made any profit from 1939 until the 1960’s. Now, March 2022 the first Ukrainian refugees have arrived in southern Portugal and the Douro region are preparing for more.
We will continue to remember the new superheroes of the Ukraine and pray for their courage and endurance.
How the World Beverage Industry is Supporting Ukraine
*The French-based Association de la Sommellerie Internationale is launching an employment platform specially dedicated to helping Ukrainian refugees find jobs in the drinks sector. All job offerings/postings will be vetted by the association as reported by Forbes Magazine.
*Walla Walla, Wash.-based Nocking Point Wines, TKTK, launched a GoFundMe campaign featuring a specially branded wine to support #StandWithUkraine, collaborating with Ashton Kutcher on package design in the Ukrainian flag colors, and linking to the actor’s similarly oriented GoFundMe, which so far has raised nearly $35M. (Kutcher is married to Ukrainian-born actor Mila Kunis.)
*In New York’s Finger Lakes region, the Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery devoted weekend sales to Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen, which has been on the ground in Ukraine. This is an important cause this winery. Dr. Frank, founder of the winery, emigrated from Ukraine, his own family having been refugees during World War II. His winery’s efforts raised nearly $42,000 over the March 4-6 weekend. See my newsletter on this famous winery and their vice president: “ The First Lady of New York Wineries – Meaghan Frank.”
*The Decanter World Wine Awards, the largest—and one of the most prestigious—wine competition in the world, announced that it will waive entry fees for Ukrainian wineries. It has also cancelled the entries for Russian wineries that have entered the competition.
Some Wine Recommendations – Historic Wineries
Veuve Clicquot Brut Rose, Champagne, France $80
Wine & Spirits, 93 points. This winery was founded in 1772. Seven years after the founder, Phillipe Clicquot’s, death the house was renamed for his young widow, Barbe Ponsardin, who took over the family business. “Veuve Clicquot” means “the widow Clicquot.”
Dr. Konstantin Frank Sauvignon Blanc, 2021 Finger Lakes, New York $20
Pairs perfectly with roasted chicken, lightly grilled seafood, and goat cheeses. With the winery founded in 1962 Dr. Frank proved that European wine grapes could be grown in the Finger Lakes, NY region.
Croft Reserve Tawny Port Portugal $22
House of Croft was founded in 1678 and was one of the earliest shippers of Port wines.
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