Khutor Vedernikov is the birthplace of Russian winemaking

Thousand years ago

The famous history of viticulture and winemaking on the territory of modern Rostov region dates back to the times of ancient Greeks. Greek colonists produced, drank and sold wine more than two thousand years ago which is confirmed by archeological finds such as characteristic vessels and instruments of labour. The technology of growing and covering vineyards in Don region described by the ancient Greek historian and geographer Strabo resemble the modern techniques. During the subsequent centuries various tribes and peoples inhabited and roamed about the Don region, following each other, including Scythians, Sarmatians, and Khazars. The latter, being mostly judaists by faith, used wine for their religious ceremonies which contributed to the development of viticulture and winemaking.

Don cossacks

The invasion of Tatar-Mongols in the middle of the XIII century and the subsequent yoke drastically changed the course of history and brought centuries-long devastation to the Don land. Russian people are believed to begin populating the right bank of the river Don only by the middle of the XVI century thus initiating the Don cossack history in its commonly known sense. In 1570 a cossack town Cherkassk was founded, in 1571 the main town of Don cossacks Razdory was mentioned in historical documents for the first time. The first documentary evidence of khutor Vedernikov dates back to 1672, but in fact the future village was founded twenty- twenty-five years before.

In 1756 in the first Russian periodical which was published in the Imperial Academy of Science in St. Petersburg, "Monthly writings for the benefit and amusement of employees" there appeared an article "On the cultivation of grapes" where the author urged his fellow-citizens who were used mostly to foreign wines, to actively engage in viticulture in Russia, noting that a vine is quite capable of growing at the latitude between 46,5 and 50,5 degrees, that is from Astrakhan and farther to the north up to the present Rostov-on-Don. As an example, he described the Cossack settlements in the town of Cherkassk and the village of Vedernikovskaya where, inspite of severe climate, "substantial gardens" produced such an excellent harvest of grapes that the locals provided themselves and sold a lot on the side. Also the article said that the Cossacks achieved great success as the quality of wine was concerned and it was every bit as good as the quality of the wines from the Crimea, Moldavia and many European samples. Generally it may be stated that the author’s message to readers has not lost its relevance today. The information from this most curious article has never been a secret and and was known to many people interested in the history of viticulture and winemaking in Russia but it is unlikely that anyone happened to come across the original of this historical document. Thanks to the help of our friends Alexander Stavtsev and Alexander Sidorov we got an incredible opportunity to do it and to see with our own eyes what exactly was written by a learned scholar of the XVII century about the Russian viticulture and learn about the place of khutor Vedernikov in the history of Russian winemaking.

The Soviet period: sovkhoz winery "Vederniki"

Back in the late 1940s the USSR Government designated a task to change the structure of alcohol consumption by the population. The intention to reduce consumption of strong alcoholic drinks (vodka in the first place), and to replace them with beer and wine was considered reasonable. But to produce wine in quantities sufficient to satisfy the needs of a huge country, a large-scale campaign was launched thanks to which dozens of sovkhoz wineries were built in the regions suitable for growing grapes. Some of them, for example, those in Taman, were astonishing in size and were focused on mass production of wines mostly from international, well-established grape varieties. Others had their local specifics. On the whole, the program aimed at viticulture development was successful, and in the 70s / 80s of the 20th century, wine became a universally accessible and popular drink.      

It is well-known that Rostov region has been home for dozens of local grape varieties. Some of them were imported "foreigners", renamed by cossacks, but the majority of grape varieties were evidently genuinely autochthonous. In order to preserve and multiply unique autochthonous grape varieties of the Don region the sovkhoz winery with a production facility was founded in khutor Vedernikov. One can only imagine how laborious the work of specialists was, collecting planting material for small nurseries and private homesteads. One way or another this work was completed, and sovkhoz winery "Vederniki" started its work. Sometimes the total planting area of grapes was up to 800 ha, mostly being of laborious covered type. One could surely assume that the important task of preserving unique grape varieties was solved, and not to the detriment of performance figures, the main of which were yield and production volume, but not quality.  

At the turn of the century

On the territory of the former Soviet Union hard times started for viticulture and winemaking in the mid-80s of the 20th century. The dry law brought about devastation of vast areas of vineyards, and very many wine grower farmsteads never survived the subsequent breakup of the country which in the first place resulted in severance of economic ties. In the Don region areas of vineyards plantings had already been reduced almost by a third by 1992, and during the next decade were rapidly declining. By the beginning of the 21st century all capable enterprises of the region could be easily counted on the fingers of one hand. A phrase "Russian wine of premium class" caused everyone's laugh and bewilderment.

And exactly in these conditions the newest stage in the history of viticulture and winemaking in khutor Vedernikov started. In 2003 a new team of managers headed by Valery Troichuk came to the khutor. Since 1998 he had been successfully managing "Millerovsky Winery", having made an enterprise on the brink of bancruptcy one of the branch leaders. During those years Rostov citizens who at least occasionally bought wine, knew and appreciated the trademark "Vinniy Quartal". It was an inexpensive and high-quality wine produced from the wine materials from the farms of the Rostov Region, Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories. Luckily, Valery Troichuk did not become content with this local success, setting himself the task of producing a wine of completely different level. It became possible only after buying his own vineyards.

The farm business in khutor Vedernikov had long been in a deep stagnation by that time, but to the credit of its management was alive and relatively capable. Most importantly, in the plantings of the former sovkhoz the unique Don autochthonous grape varieties were preserved - Krasnostop Zolotovsky, Tsimlyansky Black and Sibirkovy. The wine production facility was in a deplorable state, equipment and wine tank park were obsolete and worn-out, and an approach to winemaking remained at the level of the late 70s. And yet it was a working base, on the basis of which it was possible to launch a new stage of development. In 2004 the former "Vederniki" sovkhoz winery and "Millerovsky Winery" organized a group of companies, thus having formed a full cycle from a grape berry to a bottle. It was the beginning of one of the most important projects in the newest history of Russian winemaking.
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