The Devastating Death Of Ukrainian Sommelier Viktoria Zamchenko

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has occupied much of the news since February 2022, and much of that coverage has focused on the global effects of the war, in terms of casualties on both sides, the devastating impacts on corn and grain production that affect millions of people around the world, as well as the impact of the war on a wide range of industries in Ukraine with effects that ripple throughout the rest of the world. Tasting Table has covered stories like the re-opening of McDonalds, a hopeful indicator that life may someday return to something like normal for the residents of Ukraine.

And while the global impacts of Russia's war on Ukraine are important, given that 400 million people worldwide rely on food supplies that come from the war-torn country, according to Euronews, it's easy to lose sight of the devastating impact of Russia's aggression on millions of individuals. On October 17, 2022, José Andrés drew attention to the heartbreaking death of one Ukrainian family.

Andrés tweeted about the death of Ukrainian sommelier Viktoria Zamchenko

Award-winning Spanish chef and humanitarian José Andrés tweeted The Kyiv Independent's coverage of the death of Viktoria Zamchenko, a Kyiv sommelier, in a Russian drone attack. Andrés wrote, "A Sommelier trying to have a life! I remember buying wine on that Market! @GoodWineUkraine no one deserves this! Everyone needs to be with @Ukraine and the Ukrainian People!"

According to The Kyiv Independent, Viktoria Zamchenko was 34 years old and worked as a sommelier at a high-end retailer, Goodwine, in Kyiv. Zamchenko, who was six months pregnant at the time of her death, was killed, along with her husband and cat, when a Russian drone hit her apartment building in central Kyiv. The bodies of the family were discovered in the rubble of the destroyed building following the drone attack. Goodwine, in an October 18 Facebook post, said, "Today is a very dark day for our company. Today we lost Vika, our sommelier, an incredibly kind and sensitive person, part of our family."

Remembering Viktoria Zamchenko

Close friend, Anna Petrukova, told CNN that Zamchenko and her husband Bohdan were a "wonderful couple" who "had a lot of plans — they dreamed of their own home, children, a full-fledged family, travel. They had very big plans for this life." Association de la Sommellerie Internationale paid tribute to Zamchenko on Facebook, saying she was a beloved friend and "a passionate, many would say fearless sommelier," who reached the semi-finals of the 2020 Best Sommelier of Ukraine contest.

Goodwine remembered Zamchenko by saying, "Six years ago, Vika became a sommelier of the goodwine store on Mechnikov. She was the only girl in the department, but she never showed a weakness, there were no difficult tasks, challenges for her. She truly loved wine and her job," adding, "Finding the right words is hard. But let's say Vika's phrase, which she kept repeating: you should feel less sorry for yourself. This is how strong we will remember her. Forever."

Mirror reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky commented on the attack as well, saying, "In Kyiv they killed a young family by hitting an apartment with an Iranian drone. A man and a woman six months pregnant... Vladimir Putin can score another 'conquest', he killed another pregnant woman." The loss of an expectant mother and dynamic member of the wine community encourages us to remember not only the global impacts of Russia's aggression but the individual tragedies as well. We mourn with the friends and family of Viktoria Zamchenko.