From ancient times whole land of South Ukraine was known as a best place for agriculture. Local soil and winds from a Black Sea made the land around Odessa perfect for wine making. Ancient greeks were the first, but not the last, who understand uniqueness of a soil and climate along Northern Black Sea coast and started to make a wine. Today here living man, which as a colonists of 19th century, found this place exceptional for a grape and began his own wine producing. This story is about him.
Two hours by car from Odessa overcoming awful ukrainian roads we reach Shabo village. This place founded by switzerland colonists in 19th century and famous by wine making. Right from the main road to village one can see little farm in a field – Chateau de Lacarin. Dog Bonaparte rushing to a gate to meet new guests. After him coming the owner – Christophe Lacarin, french man, who founded private winery on this land.
Christophe Lacarin came to Ukraine in the beginning of 2000. It was a time, when the country step by step get up from a crisis, normalizing of economy and political stability. Christophe worked in Lviv, most famous western Ukraine city, and spent his free time in Odessa. Once he traveled to a countryside near Odessa and was astonished by remarkable local climate. The land represent unique mix of a year-round winds from the sea and fields, sandy soils and big number of a sunny days. “The place is perfect for a wine making” – thought Christophe. And then he get to know a story, that this land was a colonist settlement from switzerland, that have produced a wine. The decision came very fast.
All the lands around Shabo village used to be a part of soviet sovkhoz. As it usually happens in post soviet countries, the land lies unused, because government refuse to sell it, but everyone could get it for a rent. The absence of a land market in Ukraine is a black hole used by corruptionists of all kind. “When I came and said, that I want to rent the fields for a vineyards, they looked on me like I am crazy one” – tells Christophe. “I got 70 hectares of land, most of which was of poor quality”. Despite this fact, Christophe was satisfied and start to work.
“This land is amazing” – says Christophe, – “Sand soil is very suitable for a grape”. Sand absorb all rain water, so even after cats and dogs, grape roots are not rotting. Year round winds rid of all disease and there is no need to use agricultural chemicals. And that is the most interesting – wine produced by Christophe Lacarin is eco product and no filtered. How is it possible today? “Selection” – said Christophe, – “First year I lost nearly 50% of a grape, but the rest survived!” Then he planted new ones instead of lost and again some survived, some not. And that’s how only the strongest grapes left, which have natural strength for grow and there is no need to use chemicals for supporting.
But people remain people and when they see someone else’s success, envy begins to sprout. In a village nearby appeared big wine brand, which bought the other lands of sovkhoz. Business in Ukraine remain wild and uncivilized. Any big owner trying to become monopolist and it is not hard to do using corruption of the government. Immediately after, appeared some officials and demanded land back. Once Christophe woke up, went to the vineyard and found all his grapes pulled out from the earth. It was beginning of the war that continuing still.
Small break in the war happened when former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili became a governor of Odessa region. Leading his war against corruption he visit Chateau de Lacarin to protect small business. The monopolists put the head in a sand for a some time, but after removal Saakashvili from the post, everything turns back. The locals three times set fire Christophe’s grape fields trying to force him left the place and the last one happened in 2019. “Business in Ukraine is a challenge” – says Christophe, – “And you have to take it, otherwise there is nothing to do here”.
“I would leave Ukraine, if I wasn’t so happy” – says Christophe. He living on Chateau de Lacarin in old house from a times of german colonists with a wife and two kids. The Chateau represent a small paradise: horses, goats, sheeps – walking everywhere even get a noses into a house. The dog Bonaparte near the master and a few cats sleeping on benches. His wife Marianne preparing wonderful meals using the natural products of their farm. Being hospitable man, Christophe receive guests and spend a time spend time at the table telling about life, wine, business and watching that wine glasses are not empty.
Thanks to Christophe Lacarin, Odessa wine map has additional point of interest and people have unique opportunity to test natural wine directly from the maker. Christophe has regular customers of his wine throughout Ukraine and abroad. Chateau de Lacarin wine impossible to buy in a simple stores, but you can taste and buy directly on the farm. The guests is always welcomed here!