Black Sea Wine Regions
Russia’s principal wine producing area lies along the northern Black Sea of Krasnodar region. It stretches from the port Novorossiysk on the south, through the coastal children’s resort at Anapa and then north through the Taman peninsula at the south end of the Azov Sea where wines were produced in Greek settlements over 2,500 years ago. Although there are now about 20 wineries in this area, only a few still produce authentic wines from their own grapes.
Krasnodar Region is the heart of Russia’s primary agriculture producing area, bordered on the west by the Black Sea, and on the east by the Stavropol region. The southern border of Krasnodar region is formed by the Caucasus mountains, the highest range in Europe. Over fifty crops are grown in Krasnodar region including grapes, tree fruits, vegetables, and grains. Krasnodar region has an early growing season due to its mild climate and has excellent soil. Krasnodar region has over fifty percent of Russia’s wine grape vineyards.
Krasnodar Region is also home to many Black Sea resorts including Anapa and Geledzhik.
“Rostov Oblast borders Ukraine and also Volgograd and Voronezh Oblasts in the north, Krasnodar and Stavropol Krais in the south, and the Republic of Kalmykia in the east. It is within the Russian Southern Federal District.”
“Stavropol Krai is bordered by Krasnodar Krai to the west, Rostov Oblast to the north-west, Kalmykia to the north, Dagestan to the east, and Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia-Alania, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia to the south. It is one of the most multi-ethnic federal subjects in Russia, with thirty-three ethnic groups with more than 2,000 persons each. The western area of Stavropol Krai is considered part of the Kuban region, the traditional home of the Kuban Cossacks, with most of the krai’s population living in the drainage basin of the Kuban River.”
Thanks to Shiraz Mamedov for sharing comments about Azerbaijan wines:
Despite the fact that Azerbaijan is a predominantly Muslim country, it has a long wine tradition dating back more than 2,000 years. The Gandga, Shemakha, Gabala, Akstafa regions, and particularly Shemakha area produce good wines. There are 450 local grape varieties in Azerbaijan, some of which are unique to the region. In addition, Merlot, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Rkatsiteli (Georgian), Saperavi (Georgian) and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are also grown there. In the Shakmhor region, winemaking has been influenced by a German colony named Annenfeld, and in the Ismailli Region by a Russian Tsarist colony named Ivanovka.
Georgian wines have a royal lineage; it is considered the source of the first cultivated grapevines. Tools of grape and wine production, clay vessels for wine, and art and jewelry depicting grapes and grape leaves found in Georgia have been dated as far back as 5000 BC. The ancient symbol of Christianity in Georgia, which arrived in the fourth century, is a cross woven of grapevines.
Georgian grape varieties are little known in the West. The two most important grapes used in Georgian wines, Rkatsiteli and Saperavi, have the potential to produce excellent, if not great wines. Rkatsiteli is a white variety that is so widely grown in Eastern and Central Europe that it ranks fourth in the world in hectares grown. Saperavi produces substantial deep red wines that are suitable for extended aging, perhaps up to fifty years. Saperavi has the potential to produce high alcohol levels and is used extensively for blending with other lesser varieties.
Georgia has five main regions of viniculture, the principal area being Kakheti, which produces seventy percent of Georgia’s grapes. Traditionally, Georgian wines carry the name of the source region, district, or village, much like French regional wines such as Bordeaux or Burgundy. As with these French wines, Georgian wines are usually a blend of two or more grapes. For instance, one of the best-known white wines, Tsinandali, is a blend of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grapes from the micro regions of Telavi and Kvareli in the Kakheti region.
Georgian wines are traditionally fermented in large clay vessels called kvevris and left with skins and seeds for an additional three or four months, but certain wines such as the dry, red Mukuzani are aged in oak casks. Georgia produces a number of sweet and semi-sweet wines such as the semi-sweet red Khvahchkara and sweet Kindzmarauli.