Only ten years ago, wine tourism was the privilege of sophisticated connoisseurs. Now there are plenty of destinations tailored to the demands of both professional sommeliers and wine tasting beginners who just decided to learn more about wine. To help both categories with planning their trips, the republic's Ministry of Resorts and Tourism developed a new travel itinerary, the Wine Trail of Crimea.
Supervised by experienced guides, tourists can visit vineyards and wineries, learn some of the trade secrets and enjoy the best of the exquisite Black Sea cuisine.
Crimean travel agencies offer various wine tours lasting from two to five days and covering either the entire route (from Simferopol to southeastern Crimea, the southern shore and southwestern Crimea) or only a part of it.
The Wine Trail of Crimea tours include:
• an experienced guide
• visits to wineries
• wine tasting
• visits to historical landmarks, museums and natural sites
• hotel accommodation
• meals (full board).
Thanks to the convenient location of the peninsula's winemaking companies, travellers can organise their own wine tours without the help of travel agencies. The Wine Trail runs mostly along the coastline of the southwestern, southeastern and southern Crimea.
The tourists who are not ready to dedicate several days to exploring wines or those who prefer a specific grape should remember that each winemaking region of Crimea specialises in its own wines.
Vineyards located in the eastern part of Crimea (Sudak, Koktebel, Solnechnaya Dolina and Stary Krym) are widely known for their dry wines, including indigenous grapes such as kokur and kefesiya, which have been cultivated since the Byzantine era. Equally famous are the sparkling wines of Novy Svet.
Southern wineries specialise in dessert and fortified wines. Port, sherry and Madeira wines from Massandra are all symbols of Crimean viticulture. This area also produces the iconic Crimean Muscat wines, which, thanks to the hot climate, are more saturated and fragrant than European Muscat wines.
The western winemaking region around Sevastopol, Balaklava and Bakhchysarai is known for its quality, bright, luscious sparkling wines that will not break your bank. Local producers are also widely represented in the market by popular dry and semi-dry wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Malbec and Riesling.
The high season is not the only time to explore the Crimean viticulture and taste various sorts of grape. The Novemberfest wine and gastronomic festival is a must for Crimean wine and cuisine enthusiasts. The festival is traditionally held around National Unity Day (November 4).
The three-day festival is a trade fair for Crimean winemakers during which 15 major wineries located on the Wine Trail hold free wine tasting and welcome visitors to their vineyards.