Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the war has caused incomprehensible losses: millions of displaced citizens, thousands of dead and wounded, as well as the destruction of untold buildings and houses, to say nothing of entire cities and towns. Another victim is Ukraine’s wine culture, which has blossomed in recent years after decades of neglect—and intentional destruction—under the Soviet Union.
While not as globally renowned as other neighboring wine regions, Ukraine has a lengthy viticultural history, with some important international connections. New York winemaking pioneer Konstantin Frank was born in Odessa, now Ukraine’s third-largest city, and used his knowledge of cold-weather viticulture to help launch the wine industry in the Finger Lakes region. In Ukraine, immigrant vintners from Switzerland planted the vineyards in Shabo, south of Odessa, as early as 1822, while the country’s oldest winemaking company, now known as OdessaVinProm, was founded by a winemaker from France in 1857.