Moldovan Wines

In Moldova, there are several types of wineries that specialize in the production of table and sparkling wines and strong alcoholic drinks. About 40 wineries produce and export bottled wines. In a global sense, Moldova ranked the 7th in the list of world wine exporters in 2011, having exported almost 3 million hectoliters of bottled wine to more than 30 countries around the world.

History

Viticulture and winemaking on the territory of Moldova originated from 4000 to 5000 years ago, when Dacians learned how to make wine from grapes. Winemaking developed when Greek settlers who arrived on the black sea coast by the end of the 3rd century BC brought their winemaking traditions and shared them with the local population. In the prosperous times of the Roman Empire in this area, in about 100 AD, winemaking intensified.

With the foundation of the Moldovan feudal state in the 14th century, viticulture began to develop rapidly. It flourished in the 15th century during the reign of Stefan cel Mare (Stefan the Great), who imported new sorts of grapes and stimulated the production of quality wine, having created the position of "paharnic" (cupbearer), whose task was to control the vineyards and winemakers to ensure the high quality of wine production. His reign also gave an additional impulse to winemaking due to increasing the area for vineyards, the improvement of the technology and the creation of home cellars.

In the early 16th century, the territory fell under the control of the Ottoman Empire, where winemaking was banned. Thus, over the next 300 years, winemaking experienced a serious decline.

However, the destiny of wine changed after Bucharest Treaty in 1812, when the region became a province of the Russian Empire. Russian nobles acquired the wine estates and began to produce mostly the local varieties such as Rara Neagra, Plavai, Galbena, Zguiharda, Batuta Neagră, Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Neagra, and others. In the second half of the 19th century, the importation of French grape varieties and winemaking began – this is the reason why Moldova has so many noble grape varieties today. During the same period, the famous region Purcari was founded in Moldova. This industry flourished, and by 1837 Moldova had been producing more than 10 million litres per year.

Unfortunately, another blow was struck to winemaking in the late 19th century, when the outbreak of phylloxera ruined many vineyards. However, by 1906, the vineyards had been restored and grafted with planting material, and by 1914 in Bessarabia (the territory of modern Moldova between the Prut and the Dniester) there had been the largest number of vineyards in the Russian Empire.

The first and second world wars took their toll of the vineyards of the region; many of them were damaged, winemaking also suffered. Until the end of World War II Moldovan vineyards had not been restored. They recovered only after a large-scale transplanting in 1950, and by 1960 the total vineyard area had reached 220,000 hectares. Over the next twenty years, Moldova became the main wine making republic in the USSR. Every second bottle of wine and every third bottle of sparkling wine was produced in Moldova.

In the mid-1980s, the Moldovan wine industry suffered another blow, this time it was the prohibition of alcohol in the USSR, proclaimed by the head of the state Mikhail Gorbachev. The vines were cut down on a huge scale, the wines were destroyed. For Moldova it was a national tragedy.

After Moldova became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991, the wine industry began its slow and difficult recovery. By the mid-1990s, most wineries were privatized, and new owners began to invest in the modern equipment. Significant investments in vineyards were made from 2000 to 2005, when many wine making enterprises decided to plant European clones of popular varieties. During this period, many grape nurseries were also created; sales of local rootstocks in combination with European planting material took place as well.

In recent years, the industry has continued to evolve and develop. Many wineries have started to work with the winemakers from major wine making countries such as Italy, France, Australia and New Zealand. They work together with local winemakers, sharing their knowledge of modern methods of winemaking, including those required to produce young, fruit wines that have become popular all over the world. Moldovan wine producers have quickly adopted these practices and combined them with the traditional styles of winemaking, which are characteristic for Moldova.

Today you can see Moldovan wines in many countries of Europe, North America and Asia, as well as in traditional Moldovan markets– in Russia and the former Soviet Union republics, which historically consume more than 90 percent of all Moldovan wine exports. The temporary embargo on the import of Moldovan wine to Russia in 2006-2007 was a significant obstacle for the industry and many millions of dollars were lost. However, this fact has caused a growing attention to the quality of production, modernization and diversification of markets, and all these have led to the new investments in vineyards, machinery and equipment for winemaking. Today, Moldovan wine is better than ever.

CHATEAU VARTELY Winery

Chateau Vartely is located in the center of Moldova, near the city of Orhei, just a 45-minute drive from Chisinau. This is one of the newest wineries in Moldova. Vartely winery produces a wide range of wines; there are several packages of wines to choose from. The tours about the winery can be arranged as well.

The winery has several tasting rooms where guests can taste Vartely wines, as well as the wines of similar value from the famous wine regions of the world. The facilities are impeccable. The winery has its own restaurant with a capacity for more than 250 people, which serves dishes of national and French cuisine. Vartely also has a small but excellent hotel complex with 8 luxurious suites and 4 VIP apartments overlooking the city of Orhei. The rooms are decorated in elegant pastel colours, what creates a harmonious and romantic atmosphere. The winery also has a small wine and souvenir shop. Tours and tastings must be arranged in advance, but small groups do not need a restaurant reservation. Through its own travel agency, Vartely winery can meet all the needs of most tourists.

PURCARI Winery

Purcari is the oldest wine estate in Moldova, founded in 1827. The winery has a long and illustrious history of manufacturing some of the most iconic wines of Moldova, i.e. Negru de Purcari and Rosu de Purcari. It is located in South-Eastern Moldova in the village of Purcari in Stefan Voda region, one of the most prestigious regions of the production of wines in Moldova.

The micro zone Purcari is known for its well-drained soils, rich in calcium, as well as a good climate due to its proximity to the Black sea, which creates ideal conditions for the production of outstanding wines, especially the red ones. In 2003 Purcari was acquired by its current owners who completely reconstructed and modernized the enterprise to preserve the heritage of Purcari.

The winery produces a wide range of wines. The guided tours about the winery accompanied by wine tasting are offered. Tastings take place in the main dining room, a fully renovated castle-style building. The winery’s restaurant serves national and French cuisine dishes, every detail is carefully considered by the owners. Purcari also has 8 large and well-furnished suites. There is also a small wine and souvenir shop. The hotel accommodation must be booked in advance, but for small groups the reservation is not necessary for excursions, tasting and for the restaurant.

MILESTII MICI Winery

Milestii Mici is the largest underground wine cellar in Moldova. It has more than 200 km of limestone tunnels, 55 km of which are used for wine storage. The depth of the tunnel varies from 30 to 85 m underground.

The tunnels were created by excavating limestone blocks for the construction of Chisinau. They were converted into an underground wine cellar in 1969. Natural limestone helps to maintain a constant temperature of 12-14 C (54-57 F) and humidity 97-98%, which creates optimal conditions for wine storage. Most wines are stored in huge oak barrels made of Crimean or Krasnodar oak, which range in size from 600 to 2000 decaliters.  The largest ones can accommodate a small car. The tunnels were named after the wines stored there.

In the basement there is a huge collection of wines consisting of more than 2 million bottles - the largest collection in the world according to the Guinness book of records. Over 70% of the stored wine is red, 20% is white and 10% is dessert wines. The gold collection of wines ‘Milesti’ has been containing wines since 1969, and it is the pride of the cellar. The most valuable items from this collection were produced in 1973-74, now they are exported exclusively to Japan. The wines stored here are made from grapes harvested in different years, since the year 1969. The wine was produced in accordance with the old traditions of Moldova. Today, the winery produces wines according to the new modern standards.

In the center of the cellar complex there is a large restaurant and tasting halls. The tasting rooms are luxuriously decorated with elements of water, stone and wood. The walls are made of natural limestone and skillfully illuminated. In the cellar there are also aquariums with mosaics and goldfish, nice sculptures and beautiful stained glass. Here the guests can enjoy a selection of wines. The winery produces dry, semi-dry and sweet wines. Depending on the tour, the tasting may include young red and white wines, old collection wines and sparkling wines. Tour packages range from the basic tasting with simple snacks to the large tastings with full lunch/dinner and souvenirs.

BRANESTI Cellars

Branesti is located in the forest near Orhei Vechi in the village of Branesti. The winery contains 50 km of underground cellars, reaching the depth of 60 m below the ground. There are two tasting rooms in Branesti, one of which is underground. The halls are decorated with wood and metal, which represent the images associated with the cultivation of grapes and winemaking.

Here you can enjoy dry white and red collection wine as well as sparkling wines. Lunch is offered as an option when you participate in excursions and tastings. The guests must book a visit in advance.

Asconi Winery           

Asconi winery was founded in 1994 and is still a family business. Our goal is to make good wine using all the modern technologies at our disposal and preserving the traditions of previous generations. We also want to share all our achievements with our visitors, both with compatriots and foreign guests.

Any wine starts with grapes and a true winery must have its own vineyards. Therefore, over the past 10 years, we have planted more than 500 hectares of our own vineyards. Our vineyards are located near the village of Jamana, Anenii Noi region, about 10 kilometers away from the winery.

Wine and Cognac Factory KVINT

Kvint is a cognac factory in Tiraspol, the largest city in Transnistria. Kvint also produces vodka and wine. Founded in 1897, Kvint is the oldest operating enterprise in the region. Initially, Kvint produced only vodka. It began producing cognac in 1938.

Since then, Kvint has become well known in the region and around the world for its high quality cognacs, which are produced by classical French technology. The cognacs are aged in oak barrels for 3-50 years, depending on the product. Kvint offers daily tours and tastings, which vary in price depending on the number and quality of the samples served.

 

ET CETERA Winery

Et Cetera is a family winery, which produces high quality wines and has earned a good reputation in Moldova. The owners of the winery are the two brothers, Alexander and Igor Lukyanov. They planned the foundation of their vineyards in 2003 in the village of Crocmaz, Stefan Voda region, in the unique Purcari micro zone, where the climatic conditions for growing grapes are ideal.

The winery was built in 2009 and is surrounded by 50 hectares of vineyards. It is located 130 km from Chisinau and 70 km from Odessa (Ukraine).

Besides such well-known classic grape varieties as Traminer, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, in 2009 Et Cetera also planted Syrah, Negro Amaro, Petit Verdot, Albarosa, Marselan, Malbec; in 2011 the vineyards were expanded by the addition of Feteasca Neagra, Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Rara Neagra and Saperavi. The winery produces no more than 10,000 bottles of each variety per year.

Visiting Et Cetera is a unique chance to get acquainted with the Moldovan wine industry on a small scale. The standard tour with tasting costs 14 Euros per person and consists of the visits to the vineyards and wineries, including the grape processing department, the wine aging department and the bottling line. The tour includes a tasting of five wines, mineral water and light snacks - walnuts, crackers – are also served. The tastings can be arranged in the vineyard or in the winery, where you can also taste the wine directly from the barrel. For an additional sum of 20 Euros per person, in the vineyard or in the wine cottage you can enjoy traditional southern dishes of Moldovan cuisine prepared from the local food-stuffs.

All the guests must reserve a visit in advance by phone or fill in a reservation request form on the winery's website.

Cricova Wine Cellars

Cricova is a national treasure and the most famous winery in Moldova. It is the second largest underground wine cellar in the country after Milestii Mici.

Cricova boasts almost 120 km of underground tunnels that are large enough to drive a car. At the deepest point, the tunnels are 100 m below the ground level. The tunnels were created when limestone blocks were extracted for the construction of Chisinau. They were converted into an underground wine cellar in 1950. The natural limestone helps to maintain a constant temperature of 12-14 C (54-57 F) and the humidity 97-98%, which creates optimal conditions for wine storage. Half of the cellar tunnels are used for this purpose. The tunnels were named after the wines stored there.

Cricova owns a huge collection of more than 1 million vintage wines, including French, Italian and Spanish ones, as well as the samples from many other countries. In Cricova there is also a more limited collection of rare and unique wines, some of which belong to such famous people as Russian president Vladimir Putin. This is an old wine from 1902, Jewish Easter wine and the oldest bottle of Jan Becher Liquor, from the same year. The private wine collection of Hitler's general Goering is also there; the general brought it to Moldova during the Second World War for it to be closer to him on the Eastern front.

In the center of the cellar there are generously decorated thematic banquet and tasting rooms, all recently renovated. Here the guests can enjoy fine white, pink and red wines, old collection wines and sparkling wines which are the pride of the winery. Cricova is the largest producer of sparkling wines in accordance with the traditional method of champagnization in Moldova. Cricova offers the visitors daily tours and tastings. The tour packages range from those that include basic tasting with simple snacks to those that consist of large tastings with a full lunch/dinner and souvenirs. It is difficult to get a tour without a prior request, so the guests must book a visit in advance. However, a new restaurant Orasul Subterean, which accepts the guests without reservation, has been recently opened in the winery.

CHATEAU COJUSNA - MIGDAL P

Chateau Cojusna is located in the heart of Moldova, just 15 km from Chisinau. The winery produces wine and cognac. It has beautiful cellars that store the collection of the most famous wines produced at the winery. Such grape varieties as Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are used.

The winery offers tours and wine tastings. The tastings are held in the medieval themed room that takes the visitors back in time. The entrance fee starts from 10 Euros and increases depending on the purchased tour and the number of people in the group.

Lunch is available as an option for those who participate in excursions and tastings. Since it is not possible for the guests to arrive without a prior notice, they must book their visit in advance. The winery is open for conferences, seminars and photo shoots.