Thriving Vineyards in the Steppes: The Story of Arba Wine
As we already know, the wine industry is quite small yet steadily growing in Kazakhstan. And, while Kazakhstan definitely doesn’t produce wine on the scale that other countries such as France and Italy do, Kazakh viticulturists are making strides to enhance winemaking in their home country.
The small amount of vineyards in Kazakhstan isn’t necessarily due to Kazakh people disliking wine or the climate. In fact, Kazakhstanis have been enjoying wine for over 1,300 years. And, Kazakhstan used to have many more wineries than they do now. What happened was that, during the Soviet times, the Communist Party launched an anti-alcohol prohibition in which 70% of Kazakhstan’s vineyards were destroyed.
Former Kazakh government minister Zeinulla Kakimzhanov came across one of these decimated vineyards and decided to purchase it in order to revive it. Resting in the foothills of the Tian Shan Mountains, giving the vineyard new life seemed like an impossible task to Kakimzhanov after he bought it. However, since he purchased the land in 2006, the vineyard has seen extreme improvement.
Between Kakimzhanov’s careful attention, the rich soil, and perfect winemaking climate, the once barren vineyard is now the home to Arba Wine. During the warmer months, the vineyard is lusciously green and adds beauty to the already gorgeous landscape. The winter doesn’t bring any worries to Kakimzhanov either, as he admits they bury the vines in order to preserve them during the frosty months.
Arba Wine offers a variety of wines due to the array of grapes they harvest. These include: Auxerrior, Cabarnet Franc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Malbec, Merlot, Riesling, Shiraz and more. The oldest bottle of wine that Arba Wine sells is a 2010 Kyzyl Bastau, and, though they are growing as a winery, it will still take at least a couple of years for them to make any profit due to the amount of work it took to grow their vineyards.
Perhaps Arba Wine will see a spike in sales soon, as it seems that the interest in wine drinking is growing among Kazakh people. Most people drink beer and vodka, but lately wine is being sought out by many people in the middle-class.
What sets Arba Wine apart from the other Kazakh wines, though? Arba Wine makes their product naturally with grapes, while others use concentrated juices and chemicals. Upon tasting Arba, though, the Kazakh people can definitely tell a difference in quality. At local wine tastings, Kakimzhanov and Arba Wine has been able to win over the palate of those who have been skeptical about trying local Kazakh wine. Hopefully those who have tried the Arba Wine will rave about it to their friends to help boost business and bring the Kazakh wine industry back to where it was in the Soviet era.
Well, readers, there you have it. If you are planning on visiting Kazakhstan anytime soon, give the local wine a try. Who knows, you may even try Arba Wine and fall in love with it. This will not only please your taste buds, but it will also help out the struggling Kazakh wine industry that is trying to make a comeback.
Sources: www.eurasia.net; www.arbawine.com