Having fallen in love with Zakarpattian vineyards and local wines, remembering his French period of life and to promote quality Ukrainian products, musician, leader of the group “BB”, cultural activist Oleg Skrypka became a…. winemaker.
Rosé is his favourite: Oleg Skrypka prefers the wine made from the red grapes according to the “white method”. Juice for this drink is taken without mechanical squashing and it’s considered to be rich on the most valuable substances and exquisite taste. Mr Skrypka searches the gentleness in the bouquet and special character in the wine that he got down to make this season.
Rosé from the Pinot Noir vineyard, harvested on the southern slope of the Mala mountain near Zakarpattia, Beregove, will be one of the two wines with the brand name “The Land of Dreams”. The second one is from Traminer, of noble sort, which has once glorified local winemaking across Europe: legendary “Troyanda Carpathians” is the starting point. However, Skrypka’s variant of wine won’t be dessert at all: he considers popularisation of noble wine necessary according to European and world trends. By the way, rosé is also among the world trends of winemaking but Skrypka says that he followed only his taste. Without a doubt, one of the most important things is that this is the Ukrainian product, made with Ukrainian hands, from fruits of Ukrainian land.
Oleg Skrypka tells, “I wrote the song ‘The Land of Dreams’ in 1988. The song is 30 years and the festival is 15. Now, for me, ‘The Land of Dreams’ is a superb idea, this is the way of thinking, the way of self-attitude, the attitude to Ukraine, this is a prospect, the place we’re heading to. Each of us has an idea, vision of the country where we’d like to live. We’re realizing this too. Once, my friend-Frenchman said a very interesting thing. It was in the times when in our team were French, they came to stage with us, came and fell in love with Ukraine. “Ukraine is special, it has its enormous energy!”. And he said this in the 90s when we had nothing: no roads and sugar by cards. But they liked Ukraine in those times… We asked: “We love Ukraine because we live here, it’s ours, we feel potential and believe that sooner or later our country will open. Why do you, the foreigners, love our land?”. He answered, “Because we feel that you have high dynamics, the will to do wonderful things. Yes, in Europe we have a lot of good stuff but we’re lack of young energy that you have.” Yes, they’re even jealous of our will to create something wonderful. And young wine (good light and pink wines are indeed young) – this is a fabulous metaphor, good image of the future beliefs and the desire to make Ukraine the land of dreams”.
Yes, the wine isn’t only about the wine. Oleg Skrypka confesses, “The idea of the author’s wine as everything that I do in life connected to culture for me. In particular, with the culture of consumption the quality products. Politics, low economic level, different shortfalls… I think that the presence of culture in different spheres of life will help to align all these – when we actively work with culture, the life we’ll be bettering. I’m firmly convinced: Ukraine has high potential. People want to work, live with dignity, want to live in a wonderful country. If you open your heart – everything is possible. If you shorten the topic to the problem of alcohol abuse, the question is in culture consumption as well. If you drink moderately and exceptionally quality beverages – you’ll only benefit from it. It’s pleasant to observe the wine fad in Kyiv. The foreigners get interested in Ukrainian wine. And I want to show that wine’s worth this attention!”.
Skrypka himself defined areas of vineyards on the Mala mountain, the crop of which will give birth to his dream. The grapes for author’s wine Mr Oleg chooses himself: selective harvesting of the best, the warmed by sun berries is one of the key features of the wine. “What is the peculiarity of my wine? The wine isn’t made from raisins but from the best Zakarpattian grapes”, smiles the winemaker-newcomer. “The conditions for its growth are excellent. This is terroir, where several important factors are preserved for the grapes of exceptional quality. The winemakers are also great here. There are several wine regions in Ukraine. But, excuse me, Zakarpattia is my favourite, it tastes the best for me. I travel around the world and try wine from different countries and several years ago I discovered Switzerland. I was in the town not far from Geneva lake called BB, it’s close to Montreux where the Jazz Festival takes place, the vineyards grow there, on the slopes as well, very beautiful, interesting wine is made there, which I like a lot. The vineyard of the Mala mountain emotionally resembled me that place… And I didn’t make a mistaken choice: it’s nice here. Local wines became a discovery for me. It’s worth knowing that it’s about Ukrainian wine, which is made with the help of the best technologies that exist in the world”, stresses the musician.
Author’s sign of technology – a special race of French wine yeast that will be used for the wine “The Land of Dreams”. The love for wine appeared in Mr Oleg in the French province. “We played the concert in the tiny town near the Alps. After the performance, we, exhausted, were invited for dinner to a… church. We saw that the tables were empty except for the huge cheese rounds, bread and… the fountain of wine. We’re so surprised. But it was so savoury, incredible! It was the moment when I understood those French, who take the wine for food. Previously, I wondered at their way of eating, the way they keep the form: croissant with butter and untasty coffee for breakfast, baguette with cheese for lunch and potato with meat for dinner. How do they manage to be slim with such a diet? And I realized how: they drink at least one bottle of wine in a day. But only quality wine! At the weekends – more!”, Skrypka laughs.
After the Soviet stereotype that wine is like dessert has been destroyed, the rejection of this drink passed away and the curiosity appeared”, tells the winemaker. Travelling, Skrypka discovered wine culture not only in France but also southwards. This is how the dream became the idea and in November it’ll be poured into the bottles. Now Skrypka’s two wines, made with the help of technologists-winemakers of the Zakarpattian company on the basis of which “The Land of Dreams” will be released, has been already fermenting.
At the end of the autumn – the beginning of the winter, first bottles of wine will be opened, the wine will be presented at the exhibitions and festivals. In Ukraine, Skrypka is the first musician-winemaker. Maybe, the author’s wine from the famous Ukrainians will become a new fashion. Who knows!
“Actually, wine is in the Ukrainian tradition, but it was lost. Winemaking in our country is famous from the Middle Ages, has a good history, more so in Zakarpattia. The cossacks drank wine, had this culture! What about alcohol drinking, I personally think that wine, on the contrary, can fight these problems. I’m totally convinced that in this battle the approaches must be changed. Just imagine that in some village guys, who, let’s say, tried rosé from Pinot Noir on Friday evening and went breaking fences and pummel each other. It’s impossible! The wine is about culture! It’s proved that moderate drinking of quality dry wine is good for your health. All over the world, it’s considered a part of the meal, not an alcoholic beverage. I guess that this promotion of a good and natural wine is a contribution to the struggle with problems connected with alcohol abuse. And it’s time to disclose Ukrainian wine to us and to the world. I always aimed at discovering our culture. It was important for me to make people believe in the Ukrainian song and we see what’s happening now, it’s a fad, it’s a trend, our music is blooming now. I crave to make everyone believe in the Ukrainian cuisine either traditional or high-brow, the author’s one – and here it’s experiencing its boom. And now about the quality wine. I believe in Ukrainian wine!”, says Skrypka.
As it usually happens to the creative and inspiring initiatives, Mr Oleg was lucky with the time of realizing of his dream. The 2018 year Zakarpattia winemakers call one of the best in a decade. In professional slang it’s called a “vintage year”: wines from this harvest are exceptionally successful and have prospects to become collectable.
In the supermarkets, you won’t find this product because the edition is limited, only five thousand bottles of each of two wines. Since the musician-winemaker assumes that in this business presentation, the story about the wine, creation of a special mood are very important, it’s easier to try the drinks with the direct participation of Oleg Skrypka himself. “The wine within the context gets another taste. Emotions, the mood are important. I feel it with the drinks of my friend Pierre Richard, who has a chateau in France, closer to the border with Spain. The feelings from tasting are absolutely special!”, the artist says. He plans to have wine dinners, during which he’s going to talk not only about the music and art but also about Ukrainian cuisine and Ukrainian wines. And the wine itself he considers an art. He even plans to throw a concert next season for his grapes and wine.
“Why not? Letting you fantasy go, the wine could be treated as a living creature. Actually, that’s what it is – wine is made from the natural resources with the help of microorganisms. And every living thing feels positive vibrations. It means that you can play music to it or just talk to the vine and the wine which fermenting and to the wine which is stored in bottles at home. You’ll definitely feel it in the taste, this good energy. Wine should be kept in a beautiful place and manufacture should be tidy and the people who work there should be pleasant. It seems metaphysics but in the world people who make good and unique wine are always interesting and unique individuals”, says Skrypka, eating the grapes just from the bush.
The aim of producing “The Land of Dreams” isn’t commercial but patriotic one: to show that Ukrainian and Zakarpattian wines, in particular, aren’t worse than Chilean, Portuguese, Australian, and even Italian or French… Strolling along the vineyard of the Mala mountain with a glass of rosé (the prototype from the partners – local chateau), Oleg Skrypka asserts with all responsibility. Even more, he says that there’s a special attracting note in the bouquets of local wines: they’re made not only from the best grapes by the leading experts but also they’re made with love. And with a dream, of course.
Text by Alla Khayatova
Photo by Serhiy Gudak