Russia's influencer

Despite severe restrictions on the dissemination of information about alcohol, Russia still has some influencers. Anton Moiseenko reports.

Anton Moiseenko and Vlada Lesnichenko
Anton Moiseenko and Vlada Lesnichenko

Being a wine influencer in Russia is not a trivial thing: numerous measures restrain the flow of information from journalists and critics to wine consumers. A strict alcohol advertising ban doesn’t help, causing magazines to think twice before featuring wine. Nevertheless, there are popular commentators – and Russians don’t need prestigious wine letters after their names to be influential. 

Vlada Lesnichenko 

A former general manager of the Grand Cru chain of wine stores, Lesnichenko is a key media influencer both on- and offline. A natural-born wine promoter, she is in charge of the Russia Wine Awards, a restaurant wine list competition judged by an independent jury. She is also the brains behind the Wine Wrestling blind tasting game for wine enthusiasts. Lesnichenko has a large social media following and contributes to magazines such as Time Out.

 
Anton Obrezchikov

A writer for Restorator magazine since 2005, Obrezchikov has contributed multiple stories on wine and spirits to a range of online and offline wine magazines. He works closely with wine importers doing brand journalism and storytelling. Today he also contributes to Afisha Restaurants and Afisha Daily online publications.

 
Leonid Parfenov

“Too much alcohol is bad for your health,” warns the lead in to his new YouTube program called “Parfenon” where wine bottles, stories and tasting notes go hand in hand with poetry, history, politics and discussions of breaking news. Since the late 1980s, Parfenov has been a news presenter, publicist, popular TV show editor and a mainstream figure in independent wine journalism. He is no wine professional and that’s what makes his wine stories intriguing and appealing to the general public as well as the professional community. Having attracted 450,000 subscribers after just 15 shows, his channel is destined to grow.

Vassily Raskov

A former editor of Simple Wine News magazine, published by the eponymous wine importer, Raskov has grown his social media following thanks to the poetic way he expresses his wine thoughts. Now he has the DipWSET Level 4, he is in charge of developing a new wine school that combines professional education with distance learning. He is a contributor to a number of magazines including Aeroflot Premium and Kommersant Weekend.

Denis Roudenko 

When Denis Roudenko quit his tech job to establish himself as a blogger on the Russian version of LiveJournal, he created a new career. In just a few short years, his opinions on wine and the market situation have become sought after and his articles on sourcing wines for everyday drinking are popular among wine consumers. Besides his own blogs, Roudenko runs the 750ml wine club which educates people about wine. He also contributes to numerous online and offline magazines and newspapers. 

Igor Serdyuk 

Serdyuk is a pioneer of wine journalism in Russia; he founded Magnum wine magazine and had a wine column in the Vedomosti business newspaper, both of which have been instrumental in changing Russia’s wine culture. Today Serdyuk continues to contribute to numerous magazines, including Forbes, although he is now deputy managing director if Alma Valley winery in Crimea. 

Other notable opinion leaders 

Vladislav Volkov of wine import company Vinoterra has gained great respect among Russian sommeliers for his professional knowledge, while Vasily Shomov, editor-in-chief of Aeroflot Premium in-flight magazine, is a passionate wine enthusiast promoting wine culture both off- and online. Though still an extremely niche product, natural wines have developed in Russia’s capitals, thanks to the efforts of Vladimir Basov, Julia Tskhakaya and Sasha Sutormina of RAW wine importer. Arthur Sarkisyan is known for the publication of the first Russian wines guide. Anatoly Korneev of Simple is a known wine expert and educator as well as the publisher of numerous books on Italian wines. And although he doesn’t write about wine, Pavel Shvets, with his eponymous biodynamic winery near Sevastopol, has a large following.

 

Anton Moiseenko, the author of this piece, has an online Russian wine site called by-the-glass.ru. Prior to 2014, he worked as a communicator for a number of wine import companies. Today he also has a wine video project with Vlada Lesnichenko called WineDate. FC

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