Yalta’s Exquisite Massandra Winery

Located outside the town of Massandra near Yalta in Crimea, Ukraine’s oldest winery has been producing superb wines for over 100 years. The subtropical climates of the region together with the protective shield formed by the surrounding mountains create perfect conditions for grape cultivation. Add to this the expertise of Massandra Winery’s wine-makers and the ingeniously crafted cellars in which the wines mature, and it becomes clear why the fortified and dessert wines produced at this historic winery have earned international acclaim.

Massandra Winery was built in the late 19th century for the express purpose of supplying wines for the Tsar’s summer Palace, near Yalta. During the following decades, Massandra Winery produced a variety of top class wines to more than satisfy the needs of the Tsar and his court. The winery has continued to produce a range of wines that it has become famous for, including Tokays, Pinot Gris and Muscats. A firm favorite is a wine named in honor of the pioneer of local wine-making, “Prince Golitzin Seventh Heaven”.

Prince Lev Sergervich Golitzin was appointed by Tsar Nicholas II to oversee production at his winery. As an accomplished wine-maker, Prince Golitzin made it his goal to develop wines that best suited the region. It is the wines blended by Prince Golitzin that made Massandra Winery famous and continue to delight wine connoisseurs, both in Ukraine and internationally. Unfortunately, he was not too diligent in note making and some of his blends went with him to the grave.

The fate of Massandra Winery was uncertain when Stalin’s troops invaded in 1920. However, after sampling some of the wines, Stalin decided to preserve the winery along with most of its historic collection. He even went so far as to order all bottles of wine found in the Tsar’s many palaces to be moved to the Massandra cellars, some of which bear the Tsar’s seal and can be seen in the treasure trove of ancient wines known as the Massandra Collection. Massandra’s cellars, which were built in 1894, are a series of tunnels carved deep into the mountainside. The temperature in these amazing tunnel-cellars remains a constant 13 to 14 degrees Centigrade, resulting in the ancient wines remaining in perfect condition.

From time to time some of the ancient Massandra wines are released for sale and are snapped up by wine connoisseurs who appreciate not only the high quality of a wine produced at Massandra Winery, but also that they are savoring part of the history of Ukraine.