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A wine culture existed on the south coast of the Crimean peninsula, in what is today the Ukraine, in the 4th century BC, as evidenced by amphorae and wine cellars found that date from that time. In the north, viticulture developed much later, and was spread by monks in the 11th century AD. Genoese traders, who owned the town known today as Sudak at the time, traded with Crieman wines all over Europe in medieval times. Under Katharine II. (17291796) the Crimean peninsula became part of the Russian empire in 1783. Her protegé Grigori Alexandrowitsch Potjomkin (1739-1791) made the land there arable, and encouraged viticulture. The count imported vines from Italy, Spain and France, from regions with a similar climate to that of the Crimea. Under his tutelage, viticulture became a matter of state. Towrds the end of the 18th century followed a period in which property and farms were distributed as private property. In particular, the soils around the town of Sudak were very fertile, and therefore very valuable. Count Michail Woronzow (1782-1856) had vineyards established close to Yalta in 1820, and founded a large wine estate there. In 1828, he founded the Magaratsch viticultural research instutute close by. An important contributor to Russian viticulture was Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811), a German scientist and member of the academy who hailed from Berlin, and was brought into the country by Catharine II, he established large vineyards in the Sudak area. He was the first to describe around 40 inidgenous grape varieties in detail. In 1878, prince Lev Golizyn founded the Nowyj Swet (New World) wine estate in Sudak, which is still I nexistence today. Sparkling wine was produced for the first time in 1799 in the towns of Sudak and Aluschta, which enjoy a particularly favourable climate. However, the quantities were small. Golizyn is considered to be the founder of the famous Crimean sparkling wine Schampanskoje Krimskoje. He later founded the state wine estate Massandra, which is still in existence today, on orders from czar Nicholas II. (1868-1918).
Ukraine consists of four major wine-growing regions. These are the Trans-Carpathian region, which borders on Slovakia, Roumania and Hungary, the region in the south-west around the city of Odessa, the region south of the Dnjepr river, close to the cities of Cherson and Dnjepropetrowsk, as well as the Crimean peninsula on the Black Sea, with the port and famous spa town of Yalta. The climate is continental, characterised by hot summers and freezing winters, with temperatures going down to below minus 30 °Celsius. In the mid-1980s an anti-alcohol campaign initiated by Michail Gorbatschow was started, and the result was that many vineyards were uprooted. The wine industry on the Crimean peninsula is still suffering from the after-effects of this today, as grapes have to be bought in from other countries. In 2000, around 600.000 hectolitres of wine were produced from a total vineyard area of 125.000 hectares, in 1980 the production had still amounted to 5,8 million hectolitres. The most widely planted grape varieties are Rkatsiteli, Aligoté, Cabernet Sauvignon, Saperavi, Riesling, Sauvignon Vert, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Sercial, Bastardo and Feteasca. Important indigenous varieties include Kefessiya, Kokur Belyi, Soldaiya and Sary Pandas. Well-known new crossings, most of them developed at the Magaracha institute, are Bastardo Magaracha, Magarachah Ruby, Olimpiiskii, Pervenets Magaracha, Podarok Magaracha, Saperavi Severnyi, Sorok lyet Oktyabrya, Stepnyak and Sukholimanskii. Well-known branded wines include Aluschta, Kagor, Naddniprjanske, Solnetschnaja Dolina and Tschorny Doktor.