My visit to the peninsula of Crimea in Russia was full of amazing and unforgettable memories. And one of the most unique experiences I had involved tasting sweet wines and enjoying a medieval Russian dinner at the impressive Koktebel winery in Crimea.
Koktebel is one of the most famous wineries in Crimea. It is also one of the largest producers of wine for the Russian market. And it also has the largest open-air storage facility for madeira wines in the world.
VISITING KOKTEBEL WINERY IN CRIMEA
The directors and managers of the winery showed me around their wine production facility one day. I was really surprised because they make their own wooden barrels for wine; and one of their storage facilities is two kilometers in length, and it is full of giant wooden barrels of wine.
“We make wine the classic way,” one of the directors told me. And this was easy to see, when I walked through the tunnel filled with giant wooden barrels of wine.
WINE MAKING, RUSSIAN-STYLE
But then we entered another production facility on the other side of the estate. This time it was a high-tech mass production wine facility for crushing grapes and the fermentation process. This production facility was so large that I had to catch my breath and simply say, “Wow. This is Russia.”
Yes, this was a Soviet-style wine facility. It was massive and everything was mechanical. It was a very interesting contrast to the classic wine facility I had just seen earlier.
THE LARGEST STORAGE SPACE FOR MADEIRA WINE IN THE WORLD
But two surprises still awaited me. We walked on further and soon we came upon a very large courtyard filled everywhere with wooden barrels. The director said: “This is our madeira wine facility. It is probably the largest in the Europe.”
There were wooden barrels of wine as far as my eyes could see. And I’m pretty sure that if this was the largest madeira wine storage facility in Europe, it would be the largest in the world as well.
PRECIOUS WINES AND A MEDIEVAL RUSSIAN DINNER AT KOKTEBEL WINERY
Eventually, we walked into another wine storage facility. This was where Koktebel keeps its most precious wines in a cave-like storage room with little shelves for each year. Some of the wines date back to 1941. They are not for sale but they are part of the Koktebel collection of fine wines.
Here, a most amazing Russian dinner awaited us. It was like a medieval banquet in an antique wine cellar. I’ve dined in all the best places in the world, but I’d never seen anything like this Russian dinner spread before.
FOOD FOR A CZAR
More appropriately, the dinner was like a feast for a czar. The food consisted of dishes from a tradition Russian kitchen, using local materials. But each one was plated so beautifully that it was like a scene from a movie about the Medieval Ages.
We sat on art deco iron chairs so heavy I could not budge them. Then one of the ladies gave me a blanket to keep warm, and filled my glass with the first of many Koktebel wines. And all night, we feasted on fine food and fine wine from Koktebel, living a #Travelife.
Read more about historical Russia in Travelife Magazine.