Wine for the Patriarch: how the Russian Orthodox Church runs the wine project

The vineyards around the city of Gelendzhik, Krasnodar Krai

The Russian Orthodox Church began the wine project — it is a subsidiary company planted vineyards in the village of Divnomorskoe in the Krasnodar region on the Black sea coast.

“Daughter” Church called mezyb’, OOO, its in 2015, has registered the financial management of the ROC and another subsidiary company of ROC — “Sofrino”, which is engaged in the manufacture of candles and religious items. The main activity mezyb’, OOO according to EGRUL — grape wine production and grape growing, production of ethyl alcohol from fermented materials, wholesale and retail trade of alcoholic and other beverages, and packaging.

Winery “Mezyb ‘” now “under construction”, said a source in the company. The production of wine, the company plans to start in 2017. According to the source, now the crop is already give “trial” vineyards planted in 2012. On the site “Avito “Mezyb ‘”posted an ad looking for workers for weeding, trellising, debris, trimming, watering grape harvest”. When RBC called the listed number, all the jobs were already closed.

“Buy wine while it is impossible”, — said General Director of the company Svetlana Dmitrieva, when RBC called under the guise of a buyer. “We don’t advertise this project,” she wrote in response to a request to RBC. According to SPARK, Dmitriev is also co-founder of the parish of Gelendzhik Cathedral of St. Andrew, and her name coincides with the name of the rector of this parish. Prior to that, Svetlana Dmitrieva was the head of logistics company “Soll-R”, registered in Novorossiysk, and OOO “smit Terminals Sakhalin (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk), and she also manages a construction company “Andreevsky pass” (Novorossiysk belongs to the diocese). In “Sofrino” and the financial-economic Department of the Russian Orthodox Church by the time of publication to a request to RBC did not answer, their representatives, interviewed by RBC are not aware of the project. “Don’t piss me about,” asked the head of the Bishop mark.

What kind of business leads the ROC

In 2000, the last available data — the income of the ROC from its commercial enterprises accounted for 55% of the total budget, wrote RBC, the rest — donations and contributions of dioceses. The largest company — co-owner of Mesabi” art production plant (KHPP) “Sofrino” and the hotel “Danilovskaya”. The revenue of “Danilovskaya” in 2015 amounted to 100 million rubles financial indicators “Sofrino” were not disclosed. “Sofrino” produces candles, icons and bowls, various Church utensils — according to sources in the ROC, the company products are supplied to about half of all parishes, wrote RBC. For almost 30 years, “Sofrino” headed by Evgeny Parkhaev, he to Jan 2015 was head of the “Danilovskaya” and the Bank “Sofrino” to the revocation of his license in 2014. The Moscow Patriarchate is also a co-owner of ZAO “Pravoslavnaya Ritualnaya SLUZHBA, now not existing, but functioning “daughter” — JSC “Ritual Orthodox service” with revenue of 70 million rubles in 2015. Sretensky monastery belongs to the agricultural cooperative “Resurrection” in the Ryazan region, revenue in 2014, 52.3 mln RUB non-taxable revenues of the Church, reported by the Federal tax service, in 2015 amounted to 5.9 billion rubles in 2014 and 5.6 billion rubles.

The wine lands of the Russian Orthodox Church is located close to the summer residence of the Patriarch, which is officially called “Patriarchal and Synodal spiritual and administrative and cultural center of the Russian Orthodox Church.” As stated on the website of the Moscow Patriarchate, the center is equipped with chambers of the Patriarch and the permanent members of the Synod, the offices, the meeting rooms.

“A few administrative activities there have been cultural — not once”, — told RBC former Chairman of the Synodal Department for Church and society of the Moscow Patriarchate Vsevolod Chaplin.

In total, according to the unified state register, the Church has about 170 sites with a total area of approximately 83 ha South of Divnomorskoye village, Gelendzhik district of the Krasnodar territory. Since the beginning of the construction of the spiritual center Church managed to expand their holdings several times. Previously it was known only about 12.7 hectares, which are managed by the Church in Noumea, according to the administration of Krasnodar region, the Russian Orthodox Church was allocated free of charge in rent in the territory of forest Fund lands Kabardian Gelendzhik and forestry. Another 0.7 hectares of the Russian Orthodox Church, according to the unified state register, in the property received.

In 2009-2014 the financial management of the ROC has received about 70 hectares of the property from private companies and individuals. This land for agricultural use, and in them all one of the sections of area of 1.4 ha States that it is designed for vineyards.

One of the former owners told RBC that a few years ago, his “voluntary-compulsory” were asked to sell the land for subsequent transfer to its Russian Orthodox Church. Buyers explained that he wanted to buy his land and to transfer the Patriarchate in the form of charity. The amount of the ransom, according to the interlocutor of RBC, its completely staged. According to him, the buyers made an offer I couldn’t refuse”.

In 2009 a plot of land near the cottage of the Patriarch” was purchased by the Bank of Moscow and the Moscow trading Bank (STB), and then transferred to the ownership of the Moscow Patriarchate. The ex-owner of STB German Gorbuntsov told RBC that wanted to make a gift to the Church. The request for assistance, he said, came to him from the Russian Orthodox Church, but the amount was too big for the banker, and he found a partner. Banks bought a plot, follows from the data of the unified state register, and then donated it to the ROC. According to Gorbuntsov, he actively helped the Church financially, but always invested “in something poor, marginal”. Banker doubts that could “do something” to the Patriarchal residence. That donated their land to grow the grapes for wine production, Gorbuntsov nothing bad to see.

Another plot, near STB and presented to the Bank of Moscow, the Church has redeemed itself in 2012. The owner of the company — the owner of the land confirmed to RBC that it was a cash deal “on a voluntary basis, but the details refused to disclose.

Cahors and other perspectives

“The fact that the Church will produce a wine known for a long time”, — told RBC two participants of the market. “I know that the Church received land abandoned vineyards and they planted new vines. But details of the project are unknown to me” — said Pavel Titov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of “Abrau Durso”, whose structure own the vineyard next door. According to him, if all 70 hectares will go under the vineyards, you get a winery a medium size. “With these areas with a good harvest they can produce over half a million bottles of wine” — calculated Vadim Drobiz, the Director of branch Agency tsifrra.

“Before the first “battle” of the crop must pass a minimum of four to five years since landing. To get wine for sale — for another two years. This long-term project”, calculates Pavel Titov.

In order to get a good harvest, the seedlings need to buy abroad, says Yelena Denisova, a member of the Board of Directors of the company Chateau le Grand Vostock, which owns vineyards in the Krasnodar region. According to her, in Russia there is no high-quality nurseries that can provide trees for this area. The investment is estimated in the sum from 600 thousand to 900 thousand rubles. per hectare: this is the value of imports of seedlings, planting and maintenance for four years, that is, planting vines on 70 hectares could cost 42-63 million rubles excluding the construction of the winery.

Wine country

In the area of Gelendzhik, which is the residence of the Russian Orthodox Church, there are other wineries in the area. Close to the Church property is located 80 hectares owned Gelendzhik APEKS South”, the main activity of which is the cultivation of grapes. This company belongs to Nikolay Egorov, Vladimir Putin’s classmate, the famous lawyer, co-owner of one of the largest Russian lawyer Bureau “Egorov, Puginsky, Afanasiev & partners, the owner of 20% of Antipinsky oil refinery. He has registered “apex South” at the end of 2014, and the land was purchased in February 2015.

30 hectares wine-growing land to the North of Divnomorskoye and the same in the village Praskoveevka (near Cape Idokopas) belong to LLC “azure berry”, which is owned structures “Abrau Djurso” Boris Titov.

“Wine is used on every service, at every Liturgy. To ensure quality, a large monastery where many pilgrims bought wine at plants in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova — anywhere,” — said the press Secretary of the Patriarch, the priest of Alexander Volkov. This wine is not purchased on sale, but for internal purposes, he added.

The need of the parishes in wine depends on the number of parishioners in the service — you need about half a bottle of wine for 100 people, says the rector of the Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh in Chapayevsk father Sergius. In the festive service of wine requires three times more, adds the rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in the Old beacon hill father Nicholas. Suppliers each parish chooses their own, often due to small volumes of wine just buy at the store, also donations in the form of Cahors are submitted by grateful parishioners. Only the ROC — more than 34.5 thousand temples, but not in all of them the services are held daily.

About 100 thousand bottles of wine a year in the parishes directly supplies “Massandra”, said the General Director of Association “Massandra” Yanina Pavlenko. According to her, the plant’s output into the temples and put their distributors. “This year we for the first time will produce a dry wine with no alcohol — it was requested by the priest, and we listened to their wishes”, — said Yanina Pavlenko.

In 2015, Russia imported from abroad 840 thousand liters of Cahors wine (this sort of dessert, red fortified wine is traditionally used in worship services), mostly Abkhaz and Bulgarian, for six months of 2016 — 471 thousand years, according to data logistics operator ILS. The cost of the imported wine for the half year amounted to $2.4 million.

It is not known whether mezyb’, OOO to use only wine for Church use or intended sales through retail. “They will have to obtain a license for trade in alcohol,” says Drobiz. According to the expert, the reference to “ecclesiasticism” of wine is unlikely to provide the benefits on the shelf.