The fact that a certain winery is associated with Russian officials or oligarchs may be indicated by strange financial indicators. If an enterprise remains unprofitable for many years and continues to work thanks to infusions from outside, this may indicate that it was founded not for profit, but as entertainment for its owner. The most notable example is an interest-free loan of 7.5 billion rubles received by JSC Divnomorye , a winery at Putin's palace. A more modest case is the Chateau de Talou winery by Alexander Tkachev. The construction of a pompous Provencal-style chateau for the former Minister of Agriculture was 69% secured by a loan from the Russian Agricultural Bank in the amount of 1.6 billion rubles. As Minister of Agriculture, Tkachev influenced the choice of investment objects, and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the RHSB, he influenced the approval of loans.
The financial statements of the Krasnodar winery Burnier raise similar questions. Her official history is written in romantic tones. In the 90s, the seventh generation Swiss winemaker Rene Burnier fell in love first with a Russian student Marina, and then with the vineyards of the Taman Peninsula. But the romantic story does not fit well with the real state of affairs of their enterprise.
Winemaking is a long-term business: the vine begins to produce grapes of the desired quality only in the third year after planting, and premium wines need further aging. But even these factors cannot explain how a working winery has been making losses for twenty years of its existence and does not close. Burnier Domain was founded in 2001, one of its investors was the Russian Commercial Bank in Zurich, which allocated two tranches in the amount of 6 million francs . If this loan was repaid, third-party sources were used for this. According to the statements of two legal entities of the winery, Grand Vino LLC and Burnier Wine House LLC ended with a negative balance for the last 10 years out of 11, and the total amount of losses amounted to 1.134 billion rubles. Perhaps this was the main reason for the partial sale of the business.
The two legal entities mentioned above, Grand Vino LLC and Burnier Wine House LLC, belong to YugProduct Holding LLC, which in turn was owned by the Cypriot offshore Dinerco Ventures Limited (its owners are Rene and Marina Burnier). In 2018, Dinerco sold 51% of YugProdukt Holding to DB Holding LLC, which is owned by YugAgroProm JSC. The beneficiary of this joint-stock company is now Denis Norenko, and earlier - Sergey Malyavin. What are these people?
In addition to Norenko and Malyavin, Alexander Muravitsky, the new director of Grand Vino LLC, and part-time, YugProduct Holding LLC, deserves attention. Hardworking Alexander combines the management of the winery with the management of a dozen more enterprises. For example, until March 2020, he served as director of the Vostochno-Yarainerskoye oil and gas enterprise in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.
Both Malyavin, and Muravitsky, and Norenko are associated with companies that are not at all associated with Swiss wines or Kuban autochthons. Malyavin and Norenko are the founders, and Muravitsky is the director of Double-U.S. Capital Ventures, associated with the Volga Group, which manages the assets of Gennady Timchenko. Double-U.S. Capital Ventures is the founder of F.B.S., whose CEO Olga Kiryanova was the CEO of Businessstrade Volga Group. In addition, Malyavin was the general director of Belona LLC, owned by Timchenko.
Tuscan trace and son-in-law Timchenko
Another Riecine winery associated with Timchenko's entourage is not located in the Krasnodar Territory, but in Italy, chosen by the Russian elite. Information about it in RuNet is strikingly different from what can be found in other languages. In Russia, even on the distributor's website , the Englishman John Dunkley, who bought the winery back in 1971, is listed as the owner. At the same time , the website of the winery itself indicates that since 2011 it has been owned by Lana Frank. This is also confirmed by documents, only Lana's full name is Svetlana Frank, and she is the wife of Sergei Frank, the former Minister of Transport, and now the head of the board of directors of PAO Sovcomflot.
The son of the Franks, Gleb, never lived in poverty, but after his marriage in 2010 to Ksenia Timchenko, the daughter of an oligarch, gifts of fate fell on him like from a cornucopia. A year after the wedding, Gleb became a co-owner and member of the board of directors of the Russian Fishery Company. By the beginning of the war with Ukraine, Timchenko's son-in-law became the sole owner of RRK and made it the largest pollock producer in Russia. He also owned the Russian Crab Group of Companies, the largest crab catcher in the country. After the imposition of sanctions, Frank Jr. quickly got rid of these assets, formally transferring them to the managers of his own companies.
Two years after the wedding of Gleb and Xenia, and a year after the purchase of Riecine, a generous stream of investments spilled onto Tuscan soil. In 2012, a new winery building was built , the vineyard area increased to 21 hectares.
The Riecine tank park is constantly replenished with new fermenters, such as trendy vats made of special concrete from the French company Nomblot. The winery's consultant is Carlo Ferrini. He is one of the world's top professionals, was awarded the title of the best winemaker of the year by the Wine Advocate and works with top Italian estates such as Brancaia, Fonterutoli and Tenuta San Leonardo.
Unlike her son, Svetlana Frank was not subject to sanctions and can freely dispose of her European property. The family, which owes its prosperity to Timchenko, sells wines in the US through Arizona-registered distributor Societa Agricola Riecine SS LLP. Rene Burnier, who sold his stake in the Russian winery to Timchenko structures, can also import Krasnodar wines to Europe through his own distributor Artvino Sarl and develop Domaine Renaud Burnier on more fertile Swiss soil.