Why Moscow is not Hong-Kong

There are things we miss in Russia. Some of them are wine-related. Fair wine prices and a broad selection are just two of them. Looking at the astonishing rise of Hong-Kong as a world wine hub and culture, I say:...

There are things we miss in Ru...

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American wines: gambling on Russians

There is no easy way to say it. Wine market in Russia is subject to serious diseases – with subsequent choking and loss of conscience. It’s violent, it’s turbulent. It’s bureaucratic and irrational most times. Ah, yes – it’s corrupt, too. Wine is widely and openly treated as a serious problem by the Russian authorities. Wine is a political instrument for the relations with the former USSR-bloc countries. There are banning taxes and even greater margins in the major networks and wine shops. You would probably ask – why would any sane US winery be willing to be here? Obviously – there are reasons.

Drinking it easy in Moscow

It’s a happy time of year in Moscow: everyone’s stuck in huge traffic jams caused by snow and officials’ lousy road planning abilities. But the holiday spirit is here, everything is sold, everything is bought. Our mailboxes are full of spam messages of every sort. Sometimes it feels like we are living in the country of the richest people in the world. The only problem is we are not. The simple fact that we are overpaying for every product we buy doesn’t make us richer – or smarter. Still, they say more than 40% of all alcohol sold in Russia is sold during this hot pre-New Year season.

Puttin’ on the risks

In 2010 Russia imported about 400 million bottles of wine – a huge number. Oddly enough it’s not too much for a 142-million nation that has no real experience and culture of drinking fine wines. During Soviet times Russia was...

In 2010 Russia imported ab...

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The castaway market

In the second half of 2011 I was consulting a well-known British wine merchant. The topic was entering into business with the Russian wine distributors and have wealthy Russians buy wine stocks and hold them in Britain - an understandable...

In the second half of 2011 I w...

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New regulations threaten wine business. Again.

If you are a foreign winery exporting wine into Russia, then you do remember 2006 – the EGAIS scandal with new licensing and stamps that delivered Russia from most of fine wine for some 2-3 months when we were astonishingly observing empty shelves where the imported wine used to proudly stand. Since then the market has almost recovered.

But the Russian government and the Ministry of Mr. Onischenko do not sleep. All this time their minds were actively working on new barriers to make wine imports even harder. And a new Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan gave a really nice opportunity to create some new sophisticated bureaucratic tools to benefit well on wine business. New licensing was the first bird in winter 2010 – all of a sudden the importers were put in front of the fact that they have to re-certificate most of their bottles. If you remember that EGAIS (the electronic system controlling the turnover of the alcoholic products) was set up to cancel some stupid paper licenses. But in 2010 the licenses came back – and amazingly EGAIS was not cancelled. The new rules also made almost impossible to send wine samples to Russia via ordinary transport companies like DHL or TNT. But this is a minor problem compared to the others stupid rules we have now.