When the French made champagne of Odessa was famous in the world
The story of the Odessa’s “French Boulevard champagne factory” celebrated in the literature of XIX century.
According to historians, champagne always flowed like a river in Odessa. There are legends that even Lev Sergeevich Pushkin, the brother of Aleksandr, came to Odessa after reading the letters of his famous brother. Although the poet was in political exile for his revolutionary ideas, he spent a joyful time in the Black Sea city, frequenting parties and official receptions where the champagne was poured generously.
But, initially the champagne was imported, until a far-sighted French merchant from Bordeaux, François Nouveau, decided that it was more sensible to produce the fizzy drink directly in Odessa, than to carry it from abroad. He was a seller of wine in Rue de Ribas, the most prestigious street of Odessa, and was well received by the Governor-General of Novorossia Mikhail Vorontsov.
Officially, the French Boulevard Champagne plant was born in 1857. And its place of birth was the land plot of Victor Enno, a chemist and founder of the Odessa Society of Artificial Mineral Waters. The area in the borough of Odessa, called Malofontanskaya road, was 1.7 hectares, and François Nouveau equipped the catacombs located under the boulevard with cellars for the production and storage of sparkling wines.
In thirty years the successful location of Nouveau’s wine cellars drew an attention of the Specific Wine-making Ministry of Emperor Alexander III. The Monarch representatives in 1888 bought out the enterprise from the owners for a huge amount of money (250 000 rubles) and created the “Central Warehouse of the Appointment Office”.
In 1889, the new wine production started with 30 employees. The staff was anew filled up with Frenchmen. Specialists in wine ageing (cavists) were invited from Bordeaux, Provence and Burgundy. Very quickly, this winemaking activity became one of the visiting cards of Odessa. The plant, located in the renamed French Boulevard, became a landmark of the city and its level of quality reached international standards. The wine made in Odessa was appreciated in various parts of the world. Even the writers Ivan Bunin, Alexander Kuprin and Isaac Babel mentioned it in their stories.
The city authorities turned the French Boulevard into an elite part of the city. Therefore, the representatives of the winery commissioned the architect Lev Vlodek to create a project and build a new plant building with new modern standards.
With the advent of the soviet government, both the new building and the neighbouring one were nationalized and transferred under the “Ukrvindelpravlenie”, an administrative body with the rights of a ministry that led the wine industry in Ukraine in the 1920s. At the same time, French Boulevard was renamed into Proletarsky, and the wine factory into the “First Experimental Winery”. Then, the plant was renamed several times, until it turned into “Odessavinprom CJSC”, in 1991.
Today, the house built by Lev Vlodek still hosts the office of the old winery. In the cellars of François Nouveau, restored by the sculptor Aleksandr Tokarev, there is a workshop for the production of champagne.
Recently, there were news about the possible sale of land at 10 French Boulevard, exactly where Odessavinprom CJSC is located. It is sad to imagine the place where the famous “French Boulevard Champagne factory” has been located for more than a hundred years to be populated by those new high-rise buildings, that are growing at an incredible pace on French Boulevard.