WASHINGTON — Many Crimeans voted to join the Russian Federation in the hope of improving their well-being. Ukraine's crumbling economy has hurt businesses throughout the country, while Russia has accumulated considerable wealth through its energy sales. One Crimean winery's management hopes it will benefit from the region's annexation by Russia.
The Crimean peninsula may be best known for its Black Sea coast with beautiful beaches and naval ports, but the region's main industry is food production, including a centuries-old tradition of wine making.
Crimean Novy Svet winery, best-known for its sparkling wines, became the property of the Russian state after last month's annexation of Crimea. Winery deputy director Lina Domatievskaya said this could be a good thing.
"I assume that now our factory will be getting more attention. Before, our factory was a property of Ukraine, it was a state owned factory, and they didn't help us, financially I mean. We hope that now the Republic of Crimea will be paying more attention to us. Our factory is 136 years old. This is history," said Domatievskaya.
Domatievskaya said Novy Svet is likely to lose some of its Ukrainian market and will have to compete with other wine makers to attract buyers in Russia. She hopes that Moscow will help.
"Last year we were selling more than 35 percent to the Russian Federation and the rest was sold in Ukraine's market," said Domatievskaya.
Production specialist Lyudmila Zadorozhnaya said the quality of their sparkling wine is sure to guarantee success, but added that the company will have better opportunities to develop if it can obtain property rights for some vineyards in the area.
"I think the factory will be reviving. It has the name, it has everything, and the only thing is missing, we always wanted to have our own vineyards. We are a state-owned factory and we work with materials produced by others. Our not-yet-fulfilled dream, I hope this dream will be fulfilled, is to have our own primary wine production, as it is in Abrau Durso [in Russia], and we will keep on producing sparkling wine using a classic French method," said Zadorozhnaya.
Domatievskaya believes Novy Svet Winery will prevail.
"The bottles are tied to each other with Saint George ribbon, which is a symbol of victory. This is the symbol of what we have today, of what every person feels like," said Domatievskaya.
"Novy Svet" means "New World" in Russian. The winery was founded during the days of the Russian empire in order to produce top-quality sparkling wine to compete with popular French Champagnes.
Ukraine was the largest supplier of wines to the Soviet Union, but its wine production was hit by Soviet government efforts to reduce alcoholism, which included destruction of many vineyards.