Massandra Vineyards History
Yalta is probably the most famous spot on the
Crimean peninsula, the southern tip of the Russian empire in the
In February 1945, Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill
held talks in Livadia Palace, the summer residence of the former
Tsar. Churchill resided in the neighboring ‚Alupka Palace‘, Count
Woronzow’s moorish fairy-tale castle.
Michail Woronzow, Bessarabia´s and Crimea´s
General Gouvernor and one of the most richest men in the Russian
Empire owned huge areas of land and had ‚Alupka‘ built at immense
costs between 1828 and 1847. There he
started his first vineyard and later on imported new grapes to the
Crimea, such as Sémillon, Aligoté, Pedro Ximenez and Cabernet Sauvignon.
tsar Nicolas II., who settled down with his family in Massandra,
the neighboring village, started up his own vineyard and had miners
penetrate deep into the rock to build seven galleries on three levels,
thus providing ideal storing conditions, as the temperature only
varies by 1 degree between 13 and 14 degrees Centigrade and because
of a natural humidity of 90-95%.
The barrels are made of regional oak and are
mostly 20 – 40 years old, although some are considerably older.
They are not replaced regularly by new ones, but only repaired if
necessary. The vinification methods are traditionally similar to
those of port, sherry and madeira in their respective countries.
In 1898, Alexander
Alexandrovic Yegorow was ordered to Massandra. He survived the ‚Revolution‘
in 1917 and, despite his pre-revolutionary past, was appointed Master
His nephew, Yuri Yegorow became the third generation
master of these wine cellars after his parents had been executed
by the NKDW. Yuri was permitted to present his wines in London,
a family tradition still in existence today and carried out with
immense pride. This is a definite stroke of luck for Massandra.
This extraordinary quality of wines, based on
the traditional vinification methods and furthermore the well-stocked
wine cellars of Massandra, which easily could have been lost during
the ‚Revolution‘ are owed to the Yegerow family.
The wines were safe in Massandra during the
‚Revolution‘ as the entrances to the galleries were walled up. When
the ‚Red Army‘ took over the Crimea in 1920, they found the wine
cellars completely intact. In 1922 the wine stock from all the Tsar's
palaces in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Livadia was ordered to Massandra
by Stalin and put under lock. Soon after that Massandra again took
up its wine production. As a result of this ‚Revolution‘, a minor
loss in production in the 1920´s has to be accounted for.
At the beginning of 1941 the vineyards were
endangered by approaching German troops. Alexander Yegorow started
to evacuate the precious contents of his cellars.The last load left
Massandra, together with Yegorow on September 21st. The German Invasion
of the Crimea began on November 8th. The wine cellars´ contents,
which were hidden in three different places were returned to Massandra
at the end of 1944. When the Conference of Yalta took place in 1945,
everything was back in its usual place, as during the Tsar period.