In the past, Russian wine was of very poor quality, with great adulteration, sugar and other additives, but new labelling laws have greatly improved this.
In Russia, wine is a drink for social aspiration rather than mass consumption, and there is no wide knowledge of wine quality. The typical drinker is female and sweet wine is the most popular.
Until 2006, the alcohol industry was full of small importers and there was a considerable mafia presence with imports from Georgia and Moldova. But these irregular operators were then banned.
The new labelling laws introduced in 2006, successfully drove many wine sweetening operations out of the market, and licences were split between importers and distributors. This dual licence system complicates matters for legitimate wine industry members, but it ensures that irregular operators find the market too difficult.
Russia has cleared the market of the mafia as well as low quality vendors. As a result, wine importers and distributors in Russia are now increasing market share relative to other alcohol.
At Volga Trader, we specialise in locating the very best distributors for wine makers. However, this is not a trivial process. Getting samples into Russia is extremely difficult. It is better to invite the wine buyer to the vineyard. Bulk wine needs to be aggressively priced. Fine wine needs to be sold sommelier by sommelier, a lengthy and expensive process.