In 1822 a few dozen Francophone Swiss families from Vevey canton, led by botanist Louis Tardane, packed their belongings into horse-driven carts and drove across Europe to the Odesa region, which was touted at the time as Russian California. Taking over old Turkish vineyards in the estuary of the Dnister River, they set up a colony of wine-makers. It ceased to exist 120 years later, with the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia in WWII, when the descendants of the settlers packed up again and moved back to Switzerland.

Today the newly revived Shabo winery is a slick modern operation, but its owners – Georgians from Odesa – are absolutely obsessed with the place's Swiss heritage. Although conducted in Russian, tours of the winery are interesting and fun. You'll see 200-year-old cellars (look out for the Romanian king's autograph on the wall), an entertaining museum that contains objects from Bessarabian-Swiss households, and a great silent movie taking viewers through all stages of wine production.

It all culminates in a wine-tasting session, which is when you can build camaraderie with Ukrainian and Russian tourists by giving thoughtful looks before and sharing opinions after each emptied glass. Across the road from the winery there is Shabsky Dvorik – a Georgian restaurant, to which you can repair (be carried to by new friends) afterwards.