Odessa Black.

It’s the name of a (Ukranian) grape variety. But it could almost be code for the desperate times the people of Ukraine are living through.

In this episode, we explore the history and current context of Ukraine, hearing first-hand insights from Tania Olevska of the Ukrainian Wine Company and Svitlana Tsybak of the Beykush winery.

Despite the chaos and devastation in Ukraine, wine represents a point of hope, an expression of Ukrainian culture, terroir, identity and resilience.

Although what is Europe’s second largest country has a long relationship with the vine, quality wine isn’t one of Ukraine’s most emblematic products. 

That started to change after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and since 2010 there has been a quality revolution as a new wave of craft winemakers captured the public attention.

Then came full-scale war with Russia in early 2022. 

But Ukraine’s winemakers are refusing to be cowed. They soldier on, ministering to their vines as the relentless rhythms of winemaking insist they must. 

Despite the shells and rockets overhead. Despite the mortal peril that has already cost so many lives, including many from the wine community.

‘We didn’t pay money for our PR; we paid [with] the lives of Ukrainians for our PR,’ says Tania, grimly.

And yet celebrating and savouring Ukraine’s new wave wines is an act of joy, resistance and solidarity in its own right.

In this episode, we raise a glass for exactly this reason, and hear many an eye-opening, heart-warming story along the way. 



  • Here’s a link to the article we refer to in this episode: The release of the Ukrainian ‘Grad Cru’. No spoilers here but the two photos below are taken from that article.
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The following are Ukrainian Languedoc wines we tasted in October & November 2023.

These wines will be available in the UK via the Ukrainian Wine Company from January 2024 (prices quoted by the same).

  • Shabo Telti Kuruk Reserve 2022, Odessa, 11.8% (£16.50)
  • Biologist Sukholimanskiy 2022, Kyiv, 12.5% (£17)
  • Beykush Lerici Timorasso 2021, Mikolaiv, 13.5% (£35)
  • Kolonist Odessa Blanc 2021, Bessarabia, 13% (£18.50)

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