A new wine group emerges in Russia

Two Russian billionaires have been snapping up important wine assets. Eugene Gerden reports.

Inkerman in Crimea
Inkerman in Crimea

Russian billionaires Gennady Timchenko and Yury Kovalchuk are expanding their presence in the domestic wine market with the acquisition of Inkerman, one of Russia’s largest wine producers, based in Crimea.  

Inkerman will be the third large wine asset acquired by the businessmen, who have recently acquired the Divnomorskoye Manor winery in Gelendzhik on the Black Sea, and the Novyi Svit sparkling winery in Crimea. These wineries are now part of Moey wino, the company created by Timchenko and Yury Kovalchuk – both close associates of President Vladimir Putin.

Inkerman, which last year produced 11.5m bottles, was one of the few Crimean wineries to remain under the control of foreigners after the annexation in 2014. The owners included Hartwell Capital of Finland, Pan Chung Group of China and Ukrainian businessman Valery Shamotiy. 

In 2017, the owners came into conflict with Sevastapol’s regional authorities, which demanded the company terminate the land lease arrangements. The group sold Inkerman to Crimean winemaker Valery Zakharyin in 2019. He will continue to lead Inkerman.

“We are planning new investments in the development of the brand,” said Zakharyn, adding that new vineyards are also planned, as is a brand overhaul and restructuring of the portfolio. “Inkerman is one of Russia’s oldest brands. Our market is huge.”

Earlier this year, Novyi Svit also announced plans to expand. It is one of Crimea’s most historic wineries, founded in 1878 – which means that Moey wino now has a number of prestige properties in its portfolio. Yet, even so, it may be difficult for Moey wino to break into the top ten market players.

According to Inna Golfand, a partner in NEO Center, one of Russia’s leading agricultural consulting agencies, Moey wine will need to increase its overall production by up to four times if it wants to make a big impact in the market. It will also need to invest heavily in modernization and promotion.

Eugene Gerden




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