HISTORY WITH SECRET:
SPARKLING WINE FROM UNDERGROUND CITY
Could an enterprising Prussian engineer Edmund Farke think, entering a contract with Bakhmut authorities for the construction of plants in the late ХІХ century that he would greatly contribute to the establishment of the unique sparkling winery in the centre of Eastern Europe?
The point is that according to that contract the European manufacturer undertook to improve municipal infrastructure, in return for the expenses he was allowed to lease a land plot with plaster deposits to develop alabaster works. Farke’s plant soon became the largest and prosperous enterprise in the East of Ukraine in its industry, while the unique microclimate multi-kilometre underground city of the plaster mines was later used as the basis for the unparalleled winery.
Underground kingdom – a by-product of plaster grooves – silently kept its secrets nearly till the end of the World War II. In the mid-1940s upon Joseph Stalin’s personal order, works on developing manufacture of «Soviet Sparkling», which would not yield to the French champagne by its quality, started. Celebration of the Great Victory demanded a special beverage, and its recipe was soon found. Creation of the new exquisite wine for the winning country became possible owing to the unique microclimate of Artemovsk plaster tunnels, then discovered by Soviet wine experts. All year round the halls kept constant temperature of 12-14oС above zero and stable air humidity of 88-90%, – these were the conditions for manufacturing sparkling wine in the French province of Champagne.
The resolution on establishing the Artemovsk works was approved in 1950, and in 1954 first 500 thousand bottles of sparkling wine were produced. The beverage was of such high quality that soon it became the best and the most demanded and deficit sparkling wine in the USSR, being mainly distributed in closed shops for the party officials. Unlike the practice applied at most Soviet wineries, here the sparkling was manufactured not under simplified and fast but under the classical French technology, suggesting long bottled ageing from nine months to three years, depending on the brand.
In order to convert abandoned tunnels with walls, richly covered in black mould, and sometimes completely flooded, without good lighting and free passages into the modern production facilities, – the enterprise founders put a lot of efforts. The contemporary image of the winery is a man-made monument erected by several generations of Artemovsk wine-makers who, over decades, since the 1950s, have both thoroughly been building up the architecture of a reliable high-technology production cycle and formed favorable atmosphere, which is indispensable for creating high-quality sparkling wine. Today the walls of the plaster tunnels are painted in different colors, – the rainbow palette as a horseshoe for luck – for the good mood of the sparkling and excellent spirits of the employees, doing fine, almost jewelry work in the winery shops, the work that demands patience and love.
Artemovsk underground city is large, but real mastery of wine-making does not tolerate fuss, noise and hurry, – it is impossible to manufacture more sparkling wine than harvest this or that year allows or more than the capacity of the underground wine secrets storage. Even in the conditions of the state-of-the-art production that meets the most advanced international standards, the annual output of the high-quality products from Artemovsk tunnels does not exceed 25 million bottles.