Before Lev Golitsyn purchased his estate in Novy Svet, the village was surrounded by what could only be described as a desert. Connected to Sudak by a single mountain road, the village attracted few tourists and was basically unknown. However, it wasn’t long before everything changed, and Prince Golitsyn not only became the first Crimean winemaker but also proved that Russian champagne is superior to French! One variety of his New World champagne was called “Coronation”, having been served to guests at the coronation of the emperor.
Surprisingly, despite the winemaker having achieved huge success and notoriety, Golitsyn disliked courtiers, rarely appeared at court and lived a relatively modest life.
The mountain estate of Lev Golitsyn in Novy Svet is located almost on the shore. Covering an area of more than 110 hectares, the estate included vineyards where more than 500 grape varieties were cultivated and a house where an enoteca of branded wines were stored in the private wine cellars. The peak of development occurred between 1878-1912 at which time Golitsyn gifted it to Emperor Nicholas II. However, after the events of 1917 the property fell into disrepair, and it was only in the 1970s that a group of enthusiasts constructed an exhibition in memory of this great Crimean winemaker.
Golitsyn’s Estate in Crimea: a memorial to the prince and a museum of Crimean winemaking
In France, Golitsyn was known as the “king of experts” for his ability to distinguish the finest shades in wine bouquets. He was described in the memoirs of his contemporaries, as “famous rubbish, an ardent debater, always boasting loudly that he was not ashamed by any ranks and orders …” (Gilyarovsky). He was also called a “wild gentleman” because of his appearance and his propensity to wear a beard, sheepskin coat and hat. Who could imagine that such a person was destined to discover the Crimean Paradise.
The Golitsyn manor in Novy, known as the “Bolshoy House” (Big House), was built in 1880 according to the specifications of the prince himself. While the house is in no way pretentious, a hint of aristocracy is still present.
The original architecture combines classic elements with a Moorish style. Constructed on only one level of a little more than 200 square meters, the red-tiled roof is visible from afar, and a balustrade with columns adds elegance to the façade. The basement was used not only as a place to store wine but also as a tasting room. When guests gathered here, it was lit with many candles.
The basement fireplace also has a special design feature. After the fire was lit the dampers were opened, and smoke filled the basement, thus protecting the walls from damp and mould. Despite the humid marine climate, so many years later, there is still no sign of mould.
What does exposition include?
Almost all the sights of Novy Svet are united by stories of how one person subjugated nature, and the beauty of the Crimean landscape is closely linked with the success of these strong personalities.
In the museum exhibition, in the prince’s house, this is also interconnected, and it is easy to imagine how this tall, strong, grey-haired man, sat at his writing desk receiving visitors, and relaxed by studying the beautiful views from his window and from the terrace.
The exhibition includes both personal belongings of the prince and his family, as well as surviving parts of his art collection and library, including tableware; musical instruments; vintage looms from the champagne factory, photographs of the factory and examples of storage for bottles with champagnes in different stages of the production process. Even after the revolution, the house retained its original appearance and furniture, including musical instruments, numerous documents and French books. Here you can also see the grand piano and the writing desk of the prince, while another part of the exhibition is dedicated to the history of winemaking in Crimea.
Today, Lev Golitsyn’s estate also hosts champagne tastings, so it is easy to imagine yourself at some grand social gathering. After all, in its time the Golitsyn Estate was the place where all the Russian aristocracy gathered from all over the country.