Alexander Panasyuk: "Caucasus is the land of grapes"
Today in Moscow at the conference "Russian winemaking and international standards" industry experts summed up the results of the year, discussed the problems of development and support of domestic winemaking, analyzed the experience and prospects of growing autochthonous Russian grape varieties and the production of autochthonous wines, as well as issues of international cooperation. On the sidelines of the meeting, Alexander Panasyuk, deputy director of the All-Russian Research Institute of the Brewing, Non-Alcoholic and Wine-Making Industry, shared his vision of the development of the industry with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- How is winemaking developing in the Caucasus today?
- If we evaluate the role of the North Caucasus in the development of viticulture and winemaking, then in this region one of the most favorable conditions for growing grapes of various varieties. Grapes have been grown there for centuries. This is one of the most ancient places. The homeland of grapes is the Caucasus - present-day Armenia, Georgia, northern Turkey, northern Iran. If we talk about Russia, then this, of course, is Dagestan, where they make excellent strong cognacs, dessert wines. Only Crimea can be compared with them in quality. If we talk about Azerbaijan, then it has very good prospects. Before the revolution, the Germans built the local enterprises there. When they traveled around the Caucasus, the best climatic conditions were found in Azerbaijan - in Shamakhi, Kurdamir. Remember, the name of the wine "Kurdamir" sounds in the film "The meeting place cannot be changed."
But, unfortunately, in Soviet times there was a bias towards port of very mediocre quality, which spoiled the reputation of Azerbaijani wines. But there are very good wines, both fortified and port - Akstafa, Alabashly. I was in Azerbaijan relatively recently. There is a renovation, production is being restored. Now they produce dry wines of very high quality, especially red, as the climate allows. I am sure that winemaking has a great future in Azerbaijan. After all, there are virgin lands, in contrast to the same Bordeaux, where grapes have been grown for centuries, and the earth loses trace elements. On virgin lands suitable for grapes, a very good product can be obtained for 50 years.
Azerbaijan joined the International Organization of Winegrowers and Winemaking. An intergovernmental organization is a high level. Now it has 47 participating countries that must comply with the requirements for grapes and wine recorded in their documents. Since 1956, the Soviet Union was a member of the organization, but after its collapse they left only Russia, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. Then Ukraine left, but Armenia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan entered. It can be seen that Azerbaijan is serious about winemaking, considers wine a agricultural product that can be exported.
- What are the requirements for quality standards in this organization?
- The most important thing is the harmonization of all requirements - nomenclature, terms, definitions, technological methods and, very importantly, analysis methods, quality control. There is a European regulation on the organization of the world wine market. Wine materials travel around the world. In our stores you see wines from all over the world, and so that there are no problems when buying and selling, there must be uniform requirements. If there is a technological technique permitted in Germany, then it should be allowed in our country, and vice versa.
- And how do countries that are not members of the International Organization of Winegrowers and Winemaking work?
- Not all countries grow grapes. Let's say it's too hot in Central Africa. The northern part of the development of viticulture itself is our Rostov region and the Lower Rhine region in Germany, and the southernmost is the Canary Islands. Interestingly, the organization includes even countries that only buy, but do not produce wine themselves - Belgium, Norway, Sweden. Once upon a time in this organization were the United States and Great Britain. But due to friction with the European Union, they slammed the door and left. The remaining English-speaking countries remained - Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. It is possible that now the United States will reconsider its position and return to this organization, because they occupy the fifth or sixth place in the production of wine.