The Kherson region is a rich place full of natural wonders of Ukraine. Like Askania Nova or the Dzharylhach. However not many people know that here is also located the only proper wine chateau in the entire country – the winery of Prince Trubetskoy. During my time in Kherson I decided to do a degustation and tour of winery Prince Trubetskoy, and I have to say I was quite pleased with it.
I will note that the tour and degustation is entirely in Ukrainian (or Russian) so English speakers won’t be able to understand what the guide is talking about. However, if you want you can still visit the property on your own and do a tasting at the tasting room. The winery also has a hotel on site.
The chateau was opened in 1896 by Prince PM Trubetskoy. Trubetskoy was descended from four royal families of Europe and was quite a rich person. In his younger years Trubetskoy started to buy the land around Kherson, although his first intendency was breeding sheep. Unfortunately for him, and luckily for us, the sheep busines didn’t bring the expected profit and Trubetskoy decided to get rid of the sheep and start a new business. At the same time, his relative Prince Lev Golitsyn, who was trying to make wines in Crimea using French technology, convinced Trubetskoy to start a wine business.
Before understanding why there is just one proper wine chateau in Ukraine, you need to understand that in the 1900s people mostly drank homemade fruit wines that were very sweet and high in alcohol. French wines were consumed mostly by the Russian aristocracy. So, there was just not a demand of dry French wines.
To make his business successful Prince Trubetskoy had a long and complicated plan. First, he would invite French specialists and build a proper chateau, then bring over French vintners and vines to grow, make a fantastic dry wine, and finally convince the Russian aristocracy to switch from French wine to his own made in Kherson vintages. How would he do this? Simply win the Grand Prix in Paris among all the best wine chateaus. It does not sound like a simple plan, right? Except if you are sure that you will win the competition.
In 1900 Prince Lev Golitsyn, relative and business partner of Prince Trubetskoy just so happened to be on the committee of the competition in France. And of course, Trubetskoy got the highest prize for his wine. This award catapulted his recognition and caused the replacement of French wines with the Russian aristocracy.
Nowadays, the chateau of Prince PM Trubetskoy produces a smaller amount of wine and it is difficult to find it in the major grocery stores of Ukraine. The one place you certainly can buy it, try it, and learn about it, is the chateau itself.
The winery of Prince Trubetskoy offers excursions at the chateau along with a tasting. There are two types of excursions. The first one includes the tour of the property and a tasting of 5 young wines with some crackers on the side. The second one is a premium tour that includes the tour along with a tasting of 6 vintage wines with a plate of different cheeses, nuts, honey, grissini, and antipasti. Both tours last 2 hours during which you are taken into the wine cellars with the French oak barrels and the collection of old wines starting from 1950’s.
During World War Two the Nazis occupied this area and made a base at the chateau. The German soldiers emptied all the cellars, so that is why there is no wine left from before the 1950’s, except for a few recovered bottles from before the turn of the century.
During the tasting the tour guide explained how to observe the color, aroma and taste of each wine. I must say that the wine was exquisite and also complimented the local cheese and honey.
After the tour Cody and I got a bottle of Malbec (dry red), one of Cody’s favourites, to bring with us to Arabatska Strilka.
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To book a tour is quite simple, you just need to call the chateau and say which tour you want to attend (the standard one or the premium) and what day. The worker of the chateau will tell you at which time the tour starts. That’s it, you just need to show up on time and bring money.
Click here to go to the official website of the winery of Prince PM Trubetskoy.
There are two ways to get to the chateau of Prince Trubetskoy: hire a private car or get to the chateau by public transportation.
Since Cody and I were quite excited the day we had a tour and knew that the day is going to be rainy, we hired a private car for our convenience. To do that you will need to go or to call ХерсON travel agency and say that you need round trip transportation from Kherson to the chateau. This service cost us 1000 UAH ($37). The driver picked us at our accommodation and drove us to the chateau, waited while we had the tour, and took us back.
To get to the winery you can also go by public transportation. For this you need to get on the bus from Kherson to Kozatske. Get out at the stop Shynomontazh. Cross the road and walk just strait to the chateau of Prince Trubetskoy.