Archeological finds indicate that grapes have grown on the territory of Moldova in the Neolithic Age already. Well-preserved fossils of grape leaves were found near the village of Naslavcea.
Although Moldova is often regarded as the poorest European country, according to the FAO it was the 21st largest wine producing country in the world in 2013. Some fans of Moldovan wine say that even the map of the country looks like a bunch of grapes. The wine production in Moldova survived the Ottoman‘s rule – although it was not prohibited, the taxes were so high that only monks in monasteries produced wine. It also survived the anti–alcohol campaign carried out by Mikhail Gorbachev, which interrupted the tradition and considerably weakened the economy. It survived the Russian import ban of Moldovan wines in 2006 (80% of the production was exported to Russia) behind which we have to see political reasons. But in the upshot, all the difficulties motivated many producers to improve the quality of their wine which could be offered on new markets. We also visited some wineries with young people in management who make an effort with enthusiasm and passion to develop the wine tourism in their country.
All kinds of wine are produced in Moldova – light, table, sparkling and dessert wines and also brandy which is called “divin” here. You can find here not only European varieties but also Moldovan original wines like Rara Neagra, Feteasca, Isabella, Plavai and others are enjoying their renaissance today.
1. CARPE DIEM
One of the best examples I wrote about. A cool wine shop and bar with a young dynamic staff. Modern labels on the bottles, specially designed so that they evoke a feeling of happiness. It was the first wine shop of this type in the capitol of Moldova. By serving wine by the glass they try to educate their customers to understand wine. They offer a selection of distinctive local wines and also wines from all over the world. Great catering. If you visit Chisinau, do not miss this wine store and bar!
More info: here
2. CHÂTEAU VARTELY
A modern resort that opened in 2008. Suitable also for a family holiday. Accommodation facilities in guest houses. Every house represents one region in Moldova. They collect 900 t of grapes a year and produce 3 millions of bottles. We visited also a barrel cellar and tasted wine in a nice tasting room with geometrically arranged wooden shelves.
Address and contacts: here
3. ET CETERA
A small, family-owned company founded by two brothers who spent some years in the US. After their return to their home they decided to devote themselves to wine making. They started from zero – there was nothing here, just a small house. But they are still learning and gaining experience – this never-ending process is expressed also in the name of the company: et cetera – and so forth. An unique location, directly in the middle of vineyards. We enjoyed a pleasant seating on the terrace with wine tasting and traditional pastry filled with cheese or potatoes (placinta) and also a beautiful view of endless lines of vineyards. They process 200 t of grapes a year. There is also a modern guest house with 6 rooms.
More info: here
Wine which can also be found in some shops in Slovakia comes from this company (also called Château Cojusna) with a logo with a stylized grape leaf and wine glass, founded in 1995. As other visitors we visited the production sites and cellars, tasted wine in the tasting halls which represent a time machine and did not miss the tour on the tower either. The tower is a symbol of the winery and offers a nice view of the whole resort as well as the village of Cojusna.
More info: here
5. CASTEL MIMI
This is a place I am sure we will hear more and more about in the future. It is not only the sole authentic wine castle in Moldova but it is already listed among the most beautiful architectural buildings in the world of wine.
The castle was built in 1893 by Costantin A. Mimi, the last governor of Bessarabia, an excellent politician and diplomat. He knew that the railroad connecting Moscow with Chisinau would be placed here so he decided to build his castle on this place and also to plant grape vines. He made a contribution to set telephone in Moldova, had the support of the Russian tsar and even supplied the Russian and Rumanian armies with wine. Kings and other chiefs of state were among his guests at his castle.
The new concept was designed by the Italian designer Arnaldo Tranti. It connects modern design with traditional Moldovan symbols – everywhere you can find rhomboids, eyes or ram horns.
The unique and ambitious project includes not only a restaurant and accommodation facilities but also a herb garden, a green terrace where you can have a picnic, a children pavilion, labyrinth, wine spa, pool and fountains. The project is still under construction but once it is finished, I am sure it will be a place worth visiting.
Like in the other wineries we visited the young owners and managers here have also struggled with the difficult change from a huge production of bad wine to a smaller one of boutique wine.
The wine tasting and hospitality were great! We did not know where to start to take pictures and felt sorry for ruining the gorgeously arranged table.
More info: here
6. NATIONAL WINE DAY
Moldova is not only among the largest wine producing countries in the world but also among the countries with the highest alcohol consumption. According to the WHO Moldova was even No. 1 in the past but Belarus overtook the first place in the last years. I am sure the increased consumption is measured in the first half of October because that is the time the National Wine Day takes place in Chisinau and wine is running in streams. 🙂
This year, on 1st and 2nd October, it was already the 15. year of the festival. All important local wineries of Moldova were presented on the main square.
Except their stalls, there were also stands with typical souvenirs.
Wine tasting, barbeques and other food specialties were offered.
Music was playing and folk groups were dancing on the stage.
However, people did not just put up with listening to music, they spontaneously threw their bags and coats away on a pile, took themselves by the hand and danced their typical dance in a circle – pelenitsa. I could see several circles like that, both young and old people, local and foreigners were dancing. The National Wine Day have become a point of attraction for wine lovers, explorers and travellers from all around the world.
If you visit the festival in Chisinau I am sure that the very first word you will learn will be: Noroc! – Cheers!
You may also like the posts about some other wineries in Moldova:
If you like to visit Moldova contact Tatrabis per e-mail in English.
Text: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri
Fotos: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri