Having left the ranks of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) in 2008, Ukraine has again joined the leading intergovernmental institution. This brings the total number of member countries up to 49.
The renewed membership is effective from 30 October and was formalised on Friday 4 November at the OIV’s General Assembly in Baja California, Mexico. The plenary session, which closed the institution’s 43rd annual congress, had its most symbolic and heartfelt moment when the Ukrainian representatives were given the floor to address their counterparts.
‘Ukraine has returned to the big home [of wine]. The producers of Ukraine reaffirm the fundamental principles of the treaty that gave birth to this organisation,’ said Volodymyr Pechko, head of Ukraine’s delegation.
‘Many things have happened, in the world and in our country in particular. The world is not the same it was a few years ago. Our land is experiencing violence but I can assure you that the moral of our wine people is as strong as ever,’ he added.
‘We bring greetings from all Ukrainian wine regions. We also bring greetings from all the wine professionals who are not able to dedicate their time to their passion because they have been called to defend their country.’
Both Luigi Moio, president of the OIV, and Pau Roca, director general of the OIV, highlighted the deep symbolic relevance of Ukraine’s return to the institution as an active and full member. ‘Wine has long inspired values of peace and agreement,’ said Moio. ‘Wine catalyses agreement between countries with disparate interests and helps surpass any antagonism.’
Roca agreed and highlighted the OIV’s experience, during its more than 100 years of history, in creating agreement between countries which, beyond wine matters, might be at war. ‘It’s a source of great satisfaction to be able to sit all members at the same table.’ He stressed that ‘Ukraine has been welcomed back to the OIV by ALL [his own emphasis] members’ – a group that also includes Russia.
Roca went on to contextualise this reintegration as part of a larger movement in which Ukraine has been ‘forced back to the international stage as a result of a delicate situation’. He added: ‘The conflict has catalysed its participation in international forums.’
Ukraine was an active member of the OIV from 1997 to 2008. As a signatory of the organisation refoundation agreements of 3 April 2001, Ukraine requested to be accepted as a member again. The country’s government ratified the legal document on 30 September to formalise its legal adoption and the reinstatement process.
Ukrainian wine industry
With a total 41,800ha under vine, Ukraine has the world’s 31st largest vineyard surface area. In 2021 the country produced 660,000hl of wine. It was also an important import market for wine, with consumption rates increasing slightly (against global trends) until the Russian invasion in March 2022.
Speaking after the assembly, Pechko explained the diverse and serious impact the conflict has had on the Ukrainian wine industry. Vineyards have been destroyed and occupied; wineries have been shelled and looted; supply chains are broken; the country’s bottle factories have been destroyed. More dramatically, many winemakers and their families have been injured or killed.
As an active member of the OIV, Ukraine will benefit from its network of 1,000 experts, as well as important information and cooperation channels. This gives the country’s wine industry an essential support network, as it grapples with severe economic and structural challenges.
In the long-term, membership will also allow Ukraine to access important resources to fully reestablish itself and give the country a much-needed role in shaping the evolution of the wine sector. Pechko stressed the importance of meaningful support from winemakers from other countries, in the form of equipment and know-how.
A meaningful step has been taken, with Ukraine now back at the wine industry’s most important forum.