Heritage

Volzhenka: from the 15th Century to the Present Day, and Beyond

When the industrial production of caviar first took place in Astrakhan in the 15th century, the Caspian Sea provided a plentiful variety of wild beluga with the Volga River alive with bountiful sturgeons. However, over-fishing led to sturgeons becoming an endangered species, putting them at risk of extinction by 1994.

During this time, Volzhenka and its parent farm Beluga began experimental work on the domestication of Russian Sturgeons and Caspian Beluga breeders, making gradual steps towards forming its own breeding stock. Caviar was produced, not by the conventional method of killing the sturgeons, but by a humane approach which involved stripping off the roe so that the fish could be kept in an artificial environment.


These experiments resulted in the first hatchery on the Volga River and Volzhenka has been committed to fish-processing and cruelty-free caviar production ever since. By 2002, Volzhenka became the only farm holding and cultivating Caspian Beluga. Our farmed production technique was the first in Russia to be certified and attested by the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO) and by the Federal Agency for Fishery of the Russian Federation. Today, our hatchery contains more than 3500 domesticated breeders of Russian Sturgeons and Caspian Beluga.

BELUGA

THE QUEEN OF THE CASPIAN SEA – I S THE LARGEST FRESH WATER FISH IN THE WORLD, AND MANY OF OURS ARE MORE THAN 60 YEARS OLD AND WEIGH OVER 300KG.

In parts of the world where we cannot export and distribute Russian-produced Caviar due to limited quotas or exporting restrictions, we produce our caviar through collaborations with highly trusted farms. Our own Astrakhan experts control, hand-produce and oversee the production, enabling us to guarantee the consistency of Volzhenka’s high quality trademark which shines through every single one of our products.

History of Sturgeons
in Astrakhan

Ivan the Terrible grants fishing areas to Trinity Monastery, founded in 1568

1557
1684

Voivodes publish an edict of monitoring the correctness of fish trade in the city to facilitate buyers’ provision and supply

A Jesuit missionary and explorer Philippe Avril transferred a vessel laden with Caviar to the royal family as the Astrakhan Caviar was one of the secret wonders of the world

1687
1720

A nominal decree to the first Astrakhan governor A.Volynsky, ordered experiments to be carried out on fish preparation and herring salting

A visit for Peter I and Empress Catherine to try black Caviar in Astrakhan

1722
1762

Caviar extracting is given at the mercy of 16 thousand Russian rubles annually to Astrakhan merchants

Russian expeditions in the basin of the Volga River and in the North Caspian reveal many interesting facts about the Royal delicacy

1768- 1774
1803

The establishment of the Astrakhan expedition of fish and seal hunting under control of the provincial government

The K.M.Bar expedition arrives to explore the Caspian Fisheries that were considered as one of the secrets of that time

1853
1858

New sectors of the economy emerge- Caviar trading – and one of Volzhenka’s ancestors begins caviar trading

His Majesty approves Charter of the Caspian fish and seal hunting

1865
1867

The opening of free fishing

The Ichthyologic-al Laboratory is established

1897
1900- 1917

Studies see progressive methods of fishing and management of fish resources

The entire fishing industry of the Astrakhan region is nationalized and is under control of the Volga-Caspian Regional Management

1919
1929

The Astrakhan scientific fisheries station is launched, with a family member on the board of directors

The establishment of Fisheries and Fishing Industry Technical Institute (later reorganised into the Technical University)

1930
1946- 1950

The restoration of the fishing industry after the war brings about further mechanisation and modernisation while also ensuring conservation of the secret old techniques

The first fish hatchery Kizansky is put into operation

1955
1965

The establishment of FSBSI (CaspNIRKh)

Mr. S. Aptekar is appointed as the general director of the biggest shipbuilding yard on the Caspian Sea and he helps to develop state-of the art fishing ships

1985
1992

Mr. E. Aptekar privately owns the previously state-owned Caviar processing facility on the Caspian Sea and he starts farming Sturgeons

Mr. S. Aptekar wins personality of the year and is recognised among the top 30 personalities in the 20th Century for his contribution to the Astrakhan region and marine industry

1993
1996- 2007

With his outstanding achievements in the fish industry, from Caviar harvesting to helping to increase the population of the Sturgeons in the Caspian basin, Mr. E. Aptekar wins two Medals of the Order for ‘Merit to the Fatherland’