Wine Tourism Spikes in Crimea

Recent reports have a huge increase in the amount of wine tourism in the region of Crimea. Roads have been reported busy leading into Sevastopol and there’s been a noted increase in drinking by locals as well as a noted upturn in the amount of Russian visitors normally seen in in Crimea this time of year.

With the amount of Russian visitors numbering in the tens of thousands, there have been Russians seen entering Crimea in exotic vehicles not typically associated with tourists such as armored personnel carriers, tanks and all terrain vehicles. Demand for airspace has been high with an odd number of Ukrainian speakers leaving on extended vacations at the same time yet little traffic returning traffic on the same flights. Turns out Russians like visiting the Ukraine more than Ukrainians like visiting Russia. Who knew? So, crafty Russians seemed to have chartered military transport planes to help bring the thousands of Russians who all seemed to have made last minute bookings to visit this emerging new wine mecca. Can you say anyplace is a wine Mecca? Hmmn.

Seemingly the Russian tourism agencies have a sense of responsibility about dispatching a horde of rowdy Cossacks upon the unsuspecting Crimean locals. As part of their charters, the agencies have sent an inordinate amount of security personnel along with the tourists (seemingly mostly off duty soldiers) to make sure no one gets out of hand. The sudden influx of tens of thousands have unexpected visitors has overwhelmed local hotels, youth hostels and bed and breakfasts so so thousands of tents have been sited spouting up on both sides of the Russian/Crimean border.

Although the Ukraine, as well as many Former Soviet Union nations is a relatively large producer of wine (ranked 20th in production with about 168,000 tons of wine grapes harvested in 2011), it hasn’t quite yet made a name for itself in the realm of quality wines.

So one might suspect that this sudden upswing in tourism in Ukraine’s Crimean region might have to do more with just the wine. Russians have long envied Ukraine for its Black Sea beaches and a warmer water port at least warmer than anyplace Russia has to offer in either the Baltic, North Atlantic or North Pacific.

Russians have been seen storming their way onto Ukrainian ships harbored in Crimea yet Ukrainian crews were not ready for the sudden increase in demand. Rumors have Russian crews on their way south making themselves available to service their comrades desire to set sail.

One Ukrainian travel agent was heard saying he was surprised since the spring isn’t typically that busy with Russian visitors. “Russians most often come in the summer months to swim but this winter they seemed to be especially restless to visit. We were all taken a bit off guard. We hope they don’t overstay their welcome so we have time to prepare a better reception next time. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice shame on us. We have hope next April, they don’t make fools of us again.”

About the Author
David Rhodes is a California-trained sommelier and wine educator who moved to Israel in 2008. David has written over 1,000 articles and radio shows and also has been a political writer since the 1980's. He also has two published poetry books working on his third. David regrets he only has one liver to dedicate to Israel.