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Winemakers protest in Ukraine as Russia dispute bites

Hundreds of winemakers have protested in the streets of southern Ukraine over concerns for their industry’s future.  

Around 200 Ukrainian wine producers from the Odessa region recently blocked roads, asking the government to pay more attention to the problems in their industry.

It was the latest in a series of protests by winemakers in Ukraine.

Despite government announcements about promoting domestic winemaking, some in the industry fear a serious crisis is looming.

Protesters in Odessa said that businesses were on the brink of collapse due to the loss of the Russian market.

Ukraine winemaker protest

The winemakers protesting. Credit: Ukranian Bessarabia

The route to Russia has been cut due to the dispute between the country and Ukraine over Russia’s annexation of Crimea – itself a wine producing region that has since seen investment by Russia’s government.

At the end of 2018, the Ukrainian government announced plans to attract more foreign investment to the country’s wine sector, in order to boost quality via improved winemaking techniques.

There has been speculation that vineyard land could be offered to foreign investors at below market prices, in order to foster growth.

A conference for winemakers was held on 14 February 2019 in Odessa to discuss regional variation and geographical indications for wine, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Ukrainian wine exports rose by 20% in 2018, versus 2017, to $38m, according to figures posted on Facebook in January this year by the then-deputy agriculture minister, Olha Trofimtseva.

But, she added that Ukraine remained a net wine importer.

Wine sector analysts in Ukraine and winemakers themselves have warned that financial problems for existing wineries could lead to a major crisis, and that this may curtail government plans.

See also: Wine targeted as Russia and Georgia tensions mount


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