Amber bunches boast domestic flavour

First crop of grapes gathered from Gomel Region
By Yuri Chernyakevich

Grapes in Belarus? Fifty years ago, people could only dream of such a thing but vineyards are now a reality. Sadovyi, near Pinsk, began the trend, which has now spread more widely across Polesie, reaching even the Gomel Region. At the end of summer, Vostok vineyard collected its harvest of over two tonnes of grapes, with another five expected by the end of the season. Its crop is being sold in shops across the city on the River Sozh.

Four years ago, Vostok planted its 10 hectares, explains agronomist Svetlana Nechaeva. The traditionally southern berry needs long months of sun and heat, so the venture was a leap of faith but the Hungarian ‘crystal’ and ‘bianca’ varieties are doing well. Each vine is banked in earth over the winter, with branches pruned and treated against disease. This summer, 20,000 grape bushes thanked agrarians with their first crop.

“The grapes cultivated at our enterprise are industrial varieties, intended for making cognac,” Ms. Nechaeva tells us. “However, the good taste of this year’s crop has enabled us to sell them freshly, directly to buyers.”

The vineyard is yielding up to 600kg of juicy white-green bunches daily and the crop is in great demand locally, being sweet and affordable, at just 6,500 Roubles (about 70 cents): half the price of imported grapes from neighbouring Ukraine, which are also sold across Gomel.

Vostok agrarians have no intention of resting on their laurels, planning to supply various related enterprises and to implement some innovations — such as a new watering system. This would raise yields sufficiently to enable the vineyard to pay for itself faster than the predicted seven years. Gomel’s shops are likely to be selling Vostok sweet grapes for many years to come.
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