Explore Ukraine: Exquisite wine tasting during harvest season
There is no other drink celebrated across cultures like wine.
It has been praised by the world’s brightest minds, philosophers and poets for centuries. It is an equally essential element of a dinner in Argentina, Italy, Australia and elsewhere. It is simply delicious and can enhance the flavor of any meal.
But wine culture is much more than its consumption. Wine tasting offers a rich experience of flavor exploration and can be a great excuse to travel.
Whether one is a wine connoisseur or can’t tell a difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, visiting wineries is often an unforgettable experience. Besides discovering the various kinds of this delectable drink, wine tourism is also a great way to explore rural destinations and the local traditions of winemaking.
Although Ukraine’s south has long been known as the main winemaking region, the country has more to offer than the tours to popular destinations Shabo and Koblevo. The industry has now expanded to almost all corners of the country, with 60 wineries operating across Ukraine, according to the Heart of Wine online publication.
As the harvest season, considered the perfect time for wine tours, is about to start in late August and last until late October, now is the time to plan a trip.
Here’s the Kyiv Post’s guide to some of the best wineries in Ukraine.
Chateau Chizay, Zakarpattia Oblast
Chateau Chizay is one of the most picturesque wineries in Ukraine.
Although its main office is located in Berehove, the company offers tours to its winery near Mala Mountain, which is completely covered by Chizay’s 70-hectare vineyard.
Chizay has two options for those who want to sample its wines and take a peek at the winemaking process. For Hr 145 ($5), Chizay offers a one-and-a-half-hour guided tour during which visitors can see the winery and the museum of wine as well as sample eight types of table wine — red, white and rosé — along with a selection of local cheeses and nuts. Those who want to try more exclusive wines, such as the aged sweet white wine Rose of Carpathians, will pay Hr 240 ($8) for a two-hour tour.
Another option includes a guided tour to Chizay’s vineyards and a wine-tasting session followed by dinner in a gazebo in the middle of the vineyard. The price is Hr 380 ($14) per person. Children and those abstaining from alcohol can also book tours for Hr 75 ($2) and sample some of Chizay’s mouthwatering fresh grape juice instead of wine.
All of the winemaker’s tours can be held in English or Hungarian languages upon request for the same price as in Ukrainian.
Travelers who would like to expand their wine adventure to a whole weekend can stay at Chizay’s hotel right by the vineyard. The room price is Hr 1,190–1,900 ($44–70) per night.
Berehove, Zakarpattia Oblast. 1 Chizay Tract. Hr 145–380. Book at +380504320525
Prince Trubetskoi Winery, Kherson Oblast
Prince Trubetskoi Winery is one of the most popular wine destinations in Ukraine. Located in the renovated 20th century Prince Pyotr Trubetskoi chateau, the winery overlooks the Dnipro River and offers a scenic view.
Fine wines, of course, are the main offering of the menu here.
There are several types of wine tours for all budgets, depending on the number of people in the group. A person in a group of 6–40 people will pay Hr 350 ($13) for a tour to the winery and tasting of five different types of Trubetskoi’s “ordinary” wines — less expensive wines, aged in metal containers. The pricier option includes tasting of six vintage and exclusive wines, aged in the oak barrels. It costs Hr 700 ($26) per person.
Those who want their getaway to be more private can book a tour for two-five people — Hr 500 ($18) per person for the “ordinary wines” tour and Hr 900 ($33) for the “premium” one. The winery’s special offer is a romantic one-hour night tour to the winery for Hr 700.
Although there are no English-speaking guides at the winery, some of its employees speak the language and are ready to help foreign tourists, says the winery’s tourist manager Yuliia Voronina.
Those who want to cover all perks of visiting Trubetskoi — explore the historic chateau and the 180-hectare vineyard nearby and try all the wines available — can stay for a whole weekend or more at the winery’s hotel for Hr 2,000–2,500 ($74-92) for a double room per night, breakfast included. The complex also has a swimming pool and a restaurant.
The prolonged stay will also allow travelers to discover the abundance of natural beauty nearby: the Kherson waterfalls, famous Askania Nova biosphere reserve and the Pink Lake.
“It’s a very beautiful, historic place,” Voronina told the Kyiv Post.
Vesele Village, Kherson Oblast. 3 Sviridova St. Hr 350–900. Book at +380508784738
Slivino Village, Mykolaiv Oblast
Slivino Village is far from an ordinary wine producer.
The small family winery is among the few Ukrainian producers of natural wines, also known as naked or raw wines — the trend in which no industrial or other modern technologies are used for winemaking. Such wines are distinguished by their particular sour taste, resembling cider or kombucha.
“We hand-pick grapes and use wooden presses,” the winery’s co-founder, Heorhii Molchanov, told the Kyiv Post.
Although the winery currently produces only six types of red and white wines, it is still a hot spot for wine lovers.
Slivino Village is located on the banks of Ukraine’s second-longest picturesque river Pivdennyi Buh (Southern Bug). The area is known for the winery’s monthly one-day Wine and Jazz festival, where travelers can taste wine, walk along the vineyards and enjoy live jazz shows.
The next festival will be held on Sept. 4. The entrance fee, which includes a welcome drink and some snacks, is Hr 250 ($9).
Apart from the festival, Slivino also arranges two-hour wine tasting tours, during which one can sample each of their natural wines and some appetizers. Molchanov says that their absolute must-try is Odesa Black — dry red wine that is usually aged in oak barrels for six months.
Besides wine tasting, the tour of the winery gives its visitors a chance to explore all the stages of the winemaking process, from grape cultivation to storage. The price is Hr 250 per person.
English-language tours are available for foreigners. Although there is no hotel at the winery, a 20-minute drive can take travelers to downtown Mykolaiv, which is full of decent options to spend the night.
Slyvyne Village, Mykolaiv Oblast. 7 Prodolna St. Hr 250. Book at +380938222148
Kolonist, Odesa Oblast
Another winery in a scenic location is Kolonist, overlooking Ukraine’s biggest natural freshwater lake Yalpuh.
The winery marks the start of the harvest season with the month-long Young Wine Festival on Aug. 23 — Sept. 26. Throughout this time, travelers have a chance to spend a whole day at the winery, see the ripe grapes being harvested, go on a guided tour to the vineyard and cellars, explore the traditional and modern winemaking of Kolonist wine. The price is Hr 1,500 ($55) per person.
Another option is spending half a day at the winery savoring seven types of Kolonist fine wines, including the beloved sparkling drink Bisser, Chardonnay, Merlot and more. The Hr 1,000 ($37) ticket also covers breakfast, lunch and dinner at the spot.
Here, one can also learn to open a champagne bottle with a saber and try grape-stomping, “like in the Adriano Celentano movies,” says the company’s tourist manager Veronika Grishko.
There is no hotel at the winery, but Kolonist features nearby hotels on its website. The winery staff speak English and ask visitors to book at least a week in advance.
Krynychne Village, Odesa Oblast. 4 Bolhradska St. Hr 1,000–1,500. Book at +380673350118
Biologist, Kyiv Oblast
A short drive south of Kyiv will take wine enthusiasts to what resembles vineyards in Italy — the Biologist winery.
The winery mainly sells biodynamic wine, the production of which implies organic farming and eliminates the use of all chemicals. They grow eight grape varieties right outside the capital.
Since Biologist is a small winery located at the house of its founder, Ukrainian businessman and winemaker Igor Petrenko, wine tasting here is reminiscent of some cozy dinner with friends. The number of people is limited to four and Petrenko himself hosts tastings and tours around the winery.
During a minimum five-hour stay, the guests will get a chance to sample 5–6 Biologist wines along with a fresh meal. The price is Hr 4,500 ($167) per person. Each guest also gets a bottle of Biologist wine as a gift.
Lisnyky Village, Kyiv Oblast. 7 Haiova St. Hr 4,500. Book at +38098383607
Vinoman Winery, Chernihiv Oblast
Vinoman is the first and only winery in Chernihiv Oblast. But that’s not the only reason why it’s worth visiting.
The winery is located in a thickly forested area and is surrounded by numerous bodies of water, including the Desna River.
Vinoman offers its guests a three-and-a-half-hour tour to explore the vineyard and production facilities, and taste six of their wines such as Chardonnay, Rose Pinot Noir, Merlot Reserve and others.
The price of the tour depends on the appetizers served with the wine. A group of eight and more people will pay Hr 6,900 ($257) for a tour and wine tasting accompanied by a selection of cheese, meat, olives and grissini. Another option is Hr 10,800 ($402), which gives the chance to also try locally produced black and red caviar.
Zhavynka Village, Chernihiv Oblast. 11 Dachna St. Hr 6,900–10,800 for groups of 8 and more. Book at +380932527176.