Despite the disintegration of the USSR into many states, Russia is still the largest country in the world with 17 million km². However, the situation in viticulture is changing enormously as a result. South of the Caucasus, perhaps 8,000 years ago, vines were already being cultivated and vines were already being grown and the Transcaucasian region is considered, along with Mesopotamia, to be the cradle of wine culture. The oldest wine-growing region in present-day Russia is the North Caucasian South Dagestan in the coastal strip of the Caspian Sea. At the beginning of the 17th century, vineyards were planted in Astrakhan in the Volga estuary near the Caspian Sea to supply the tsar's court with wine and grapes. At that time, however, wine culture was underdeveloped and wine was imported in large quantities from France and Germany. Exceptions were the vineyards of Count Voronzow (1782-1856) and Prince Lev Golizyn. The latter is also considered the founder of the famous Crimean sparkling wine at his estate Nowyj Swet. Golizyn also built up the famous present-day state winery Massandra on behalf of Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918). These three vineyards on the south coast of the Crimea (Ukraine) produced sweet dessert wines in the style of Château d'Yquem, Madeira, Port and Sherry, which were also much sought-after by the aristocracy.