Wine Law

THE 2019 RUSSIAN LAW ON VITICULTURE AND WINEMAKING 529 modern agronomical developments Russian entrepreneurs created a whole new sector of the economy, making proofs of good choices and exquisite taste4. By the end of the 19th century, domestic viticulture was already firmly established even if the imported West European wines continued to dominate the internal market5. At the same time, the launch of recreational activities on the Black Sea coast developed new prospects for combining the touristic interest with the wine production. However, the turmoil of 20th century Russian history three times annihilated all these efforts6, and only one hundred years later a new start for this far-flung ancient terroir is underway with new political and climatic realities. Notwithstanding, in 2009, according to the Financial Times, the South of Russia was still a “virtually uncharted corner of the wine world”7. Even for the author, with her, as she puts it, foreigner’s preconceptions on the Russian wine scene, it was evident that, at the time, “wine laws” were needed for the Russian market. It seemed devastating that a mere 70% of the wine labelled as Russian was made up of bulk imports of cheap wine from around the world, and wine made from actually Russia-grown grapes accounted for just 20% of all wine sold in the country. Nevertheless, a trend was visible for the increase of local production, and, in 2014, the authorities officially “set the aim of boosting the total territory of Russian vineyards to 140,000 hectares in 2020 from 90,000 hectares now”. Such a substantial increase was planned to match, in the near future, at least the vineyards’ area of the Soviet times at its height – in the early 1980s, in the then Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, they reached about 200,000 hectares8. This objective was not met though, and, in the years since, the planting of new surfaces stagnated as the decision to take more active efforts shifted to the legislative sphere. 4 Unusually, the grape-growing was developed in the most distant settlement of the Russian empire – Fort Ross in California, situated some 80 km north from San Francisco. It was locally so renowned that even after the Russians left it, in 1841, the newcomers used it for years, finding there reliable vine planting material. Today, the nearby toponymal Russian River designates one of California’s top producing wine regions; available in: 5 Source: 6 During the Civil War (1918-1922), World War II (1941-1945) and Gorbachev’s Perestroika (1985-1990), when due to the anti-alcohol campaign allegedly up to 30 % of the vineyards were destroyed; available in: 7 Robinson, Jancis, Russia’s wild world of wine, 24 October 2009; available in: 8 Source: