We’re crossing the Thames in a black cab, speeding over Tower Bridge.
We’re on our way to meet Pavel Titov the managing director of Abrau-Durso, a Russian winery. We’d never heard of Russian wine before until last week, when the sommelier of a fancy restaurant here in London made us taste an interesting sparkling Russian wine.
We take a left at Tower Hill and drive west past London Bridge.
After last week’s dinner and our discovery of Russian wine, we Googled Abrau Durso and found out that it’s European office is located right here in London and Pavel often comes and is living here. We got in touch and arranged to meet him at the Savoy, in 10 minutes from now – if we make it…
The cab turns left onto Canon Street, we turn left, then right and pass St. Paul’s Cathedral on our right-hand side which has dominated the London skyline for 300 years.
When we Googled Abrau-Durso, we also found out that the region has a long history of wine-making that started under Tsar Alexander II in 1870.
Abrau-Durso is located in the Russian part of the Black Sea region, just on the west of Sochi, where the 2014 Winter Olympics were held. It is one of the very few places in Russia with a subtropical climate, with warm summers and mild winters – ideal for wine production.
The cab stops in front of the Savoy, we get out and enter the hotel. I look around in the impressive lobby and recognize Pavel from his profile picture on LinkedIn.
“Our family bought the winery in 2006,” he says as we sit down in the comfortable chairs. “I immediately saw the potential, not only of Abrau-Durso as a high-quality Russian wine house but also as a region with great touristic interest.”
“Do you have a background in wine making?” I ask.
“Not at all,” Pavel laughs, “my background is in finance. But when I saw the vineyard, the lake Abrau, and the mountains… I had a vision. Actually it’s a vision I share with my father. We want to breathe new life into the vineyard and into the region at the same time. It’s a long-term vision, which includes educating people on Russian wines and developing infrastructure in the region. We’ve already built several restaurants and a spa hotel.”
Pavel takes a sip of his coffee before continuing. “It’s all part of a bigger picture, bring back the glory days of Abrau-Durso. You guys should go there to visit the winery and see for yourselves.”
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