Stolichnaya (Russian: Столичная, also known as Stoli) is a vodka made of wheat and rye grain. A well-known Soviet brand, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the ownership of Stolichnaya has been disputed between the Russian state-owned company FKP Soyuzplodoimport and SPI Group, a private company founded and owned by Russian billionaire Yuri Shefler.
Stolichnaya has its origins in the Moscow State Wine Warehouse No. 1 which was opened in 1901 by the authorities to ensure higher quality vodka production.
There is confusion about the actual birth date of Stolichnaya vodka. The earliest confirmed production date is 1948, but the label design clearly predates 1946. It is likely that it was created by V. G. Svirida around 1944. However, there is a trademark registration dated 1938, which is sometimes quoted as another birth date.
In 1953, Stolichnaya was introduced at the international trade show in Bern and received a gold medal. Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the product was made in Ukraine for export.
In 1972, the PepsiCo company struck a barter agreement with the government of the Soviet Union, in which PepsiCo was granted exportation and Western marketing rights to Stolichnaya vodka, in exchange for importation and Soviet marketing of Pepsi-Cola. This exchange led to Pepsi-Cola being the first American consumer product to be produced, marketed and sold in the U.S.S.R. Directly after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Stolichnaya vodka continued to be produced for export in several of the ex-Soviet republics, including Ukraine. The bottles retained their Soviet-era labels.
During the dissolution of the Soviet Union, steps were taken to transform state-owned Stolichnaya producer VO Sojuzplodoimport (later VVO Sojuzplodoimport) into a privately held company. Since the early nineties, the personnel of the vodka factory and control of the trademarks had been managed by VAO Sojuzplodoimport (later: VZAO Sojuzplodoimport). In 1997, they were transferred to ZAO Sojuzplodimport which, in turn, sold them to the SPI (Spirits) group in 1993.
The SPI Group is a private company chartered in Luxembourg, founded and owned by Russian billionaire Yuri Shefler, that distributes a wide variety of Russian spirits, having purchased a number of former Soviet brands and operations. While FKP produces in Kaliningrad, Russia (for the Russian market and the Benelux market), SPI Group distributes and produces from Latvia. State-owned company FKP Sojuzplodoimport and the SPI group have been in dispute over the ownership of various trademarks since 2003.