London’s first Ukrainian wine tasting to launch in October

Raise a glass: Wines of Ukraine are coming to London  (Press handout)
Raise a glass: Wines of Ukraine are coming to London (Press handout)

The inaugural tasting of Ukrainian wine in the UK will be held next month following the opening of a Wines of Ukraine office in London.

The association is made up of 15 small, family-run wineries and was co-founded in 2021 by Svitlana Tsybak, CEO of Beykush winery.

The tasting will be held for the UK drinks trade and media on Monday October 9 at 67 Pall Mall, the wine-focused members club in St James’s. Eleven wineries from six Ukraine wine regions will show 60 wines covering different styles including sparkling wines, sweet wines and unfiltered orange wines, as well as still reds, whites and rosés. Several of the wineries attending the new event already sell wines in the UK, though others are seeking distribution.

Beykush winery is in Mykolaivm in the south of Ukraine and is part of the country’s biggest wine-producing region of the Black Sea, which also includes the wine-growing areas of Bessarabia, Odesa and Kherson. It has, Tsybak admits, been a challenging 18 months for Ukrainian wine production.

“Kherson was occupied by Russian troops at the start of the full-scale invasion in February last year. While it has now been ostensibly liberated, the area remains under constant fire. The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam caused widespread flooding in Kherson and Mykolaiv. Some of the vineyards are completely submerged, and producers lost wines ageing in steel tanks and oak barrels in the cellars.”

Svitlana Tsybak (Press handout)
Svitlana Tsybak (Press handout)

And yet Tsybak says there are reasons to be hopeful. “Many wineries are still working properly despite the tense situation. Beykush is located a few miles from the occupied territory but we have increased the volume of wine we produce since 2022. And new family wineries continue to appear in regions such as Bessarabia, Kyiv and Lviv.”

Ukrainian wine production can be traced back to the 4th century BC but declined for much of the 20th century during the years of the Soviet Union. The past decade, however, has seen a renaissance in the industry, not least following new legislation between 2016 and 2018 which has allowed small winemakers to flourish. Today there are 180 Ukrainian wine producers and the country is introducing the UK and EU system for protected designation of origin.

There has been strong interest in Ukrainian wine from the USA, Japan and Germany since the Russian invasion but the UK may turn out to be the most important export market of all.

“The UK is always open to something new,” Tsybak says. “Ukraine produces a lot of Pét-Nat and orange wines, which British consumers appreciate. If you buy a bottle of Ukrainian wine you help us a lot and we are very grateful for all the support the UK has shown Ukraine during the war.

“But our ultimate goal is to prove how interesting and competitive our wine is and tell the world that Ukraine has its own unique place in winemaking.”

Members of the drinks trade and press can register for the tasting here.