Russian Orthodox Church Launches Own Winery

Source: The Moscow Times

August 10, 2016

Russia’s Orthodox Church is to start producing its own
wine in the country’s southern region of Krasnodar,
the RBC news agency reported Wednesday. The church’s
vineyards, built by subsidiary company Mezyb, stretch over
70 hectares of land on the Black Sea coast — just
next to summer residence of church leader Patriarch
Kirill.

The winery is expected to produce its first bottles of
wine next year. Mezyb was registered as a company by the
Russian Orthodox Church last year, and is to handle the
entire wine-making process from grape cultivation to
retailing.

The Church has significantly expanded its territories in
Krasnodar since the construction of the Patriarch’s
summer residence began in 2005. From the 12,7 hectares of
land granted to the church by the Krasnodar Region
administration nine years ago, church assets in the area
have grown to some 83 hectares divided into 170 plots,
according to the Unified State Register of Rights.

Some 70 hectares were given to the Church by private
companies or individuals, RBC reported. A former plot
owner told RBC that buyers had “made an offer that
[he] couldn’t refuse,” telling him that the land
would be handed over to the Church as an act of charity.

“With such an area [the winery] will be able to
produce more than 500,000 bottles a year,” Vadim
Drobiz, director of the Research Center for Federal and
Regional Alcohol Markets, told RBC.

“It’s long been known that the Church was
planning to sell wine. This is a long-term project,”
said Pavel Titov, chairman of the board for local
winemakers Abrau-Durso winemakers. “It will take at
least four of five years before the vineyards give the
first competitive crop.”

Church spokesman Alexander Volkov said that major
monasteries currently needed to purchase wine from
Russian, Ukrainian and Moldavian factories. “Wine is
used in every rite, in every liturgy,” he said.

Churches use about half a bottle of wine per every 100
parishioners during routine services, said rector of St.
Sergius of Radonezh Church, Father Sergius.

If Mezyb plans to sell its production, it will need to
obtain a proper trading license, Drobiz said. The
church’s label on the bottle is unlikely to draw much
attention from customers, he said.

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