Tight security is nothing unusual for wineries: when there are multimillions worth of liquid assets being aged in the cellars, it’s often a must. Yet the security at the gates of one estate near the Black Sea shore is a bit more demanding. Not only do the guards check everybody’s IDs and put visitors through metal detectors, but well in advance of the scheduled visit, visitors are obliged to provide the model of their mobile phone and details of their current employment.
When they do get through the gate, visitors will find themselves inside one of the most technologically advanced wineries in Russia: Usadba Divnomorskoye, a name which translates as “beautiful place by the seaside”. It lies near the town of Gelendzhik, a well-known seaside resort 1500km south of Moscow and just 250km from the Olympic city of Sochi. Not surprisingly, given the extensive chunk of seaside land covered with pine forests, this is the region where many of the rich and influential build their estates and summer houses. Usadba Divnomorskoye (‘Usadba’ means manor house in Russian) is typical.