While Europe’s big players such as France, Portugal, Italy and Spain all had the smallest harvests in years, Moldova’s wine makers had a great vintage. How did this Eastern European winemaking country manage to record the largest crop of the last four years – about 54,2 million bottles and a 5.5% growth in exports? The answer lies in favorable weather conditions, and in introducing policies focused on developing the wine sector, improving wine quality, and expanding into new markets. All of these helped make 2017 a phenomenally successful year for Moldovan wine.
As Gheorghe Arpentin, director of the National Office for Vine and Wine said, “Recognition for Wine of Moldova internationally is growing and so is demand among foreign consumers. The volume of exports has grown, but our greatest achievement has been in managing to increase their value. The current price per bottle is over eight percent higher than in 2016, which indicates the readiness of foreign markets to appreciate greater quality. Even so, we have managed to maintain extremely competitive prices for Wine of Moldova.”
“Wine of Moldova”
“Wine of Moldova” is the brand adopted by the Republic of Moldova, to unite all the country’s wine producers, and it has already won its place on the tables and in the hearts of many international wine lovers. Rooted in its astonishingly rich history, but equally fresh and modern, Wine of Moldova is steadily conquering the wider world under the slogan “Our wine has been crafted by generations of winemakers in the largest cellars in the world, appreciated by consumers in both east and west and supported by legends that anyone can embrace.”
“Wine of Moldova” is the tangible result of the decision by the Republic of Moldova to reform its wine sector and to focus on quality and performance. In 2013, the National Office for Vine and Wine (ONVV) was established and charged with the responsibility of implementing a range of programs to support market diversification and the growth in exports of quality wines. With a system, based on the EU model of protected geographical indications – PGIs – covering the four growing areas of Valul lui Traian, Stefan Voda, Codru and Divin, Moldova has made impressive progress in upgrading the quality of its wines over the last five years. Proof of this is offered by the over 380 medals won at such prestigious international contests as: Decanter World Wine Awards, Mundus Vini, Concours Mondial du Bruxelles, International Wine Challenge, etc.
The national wine brand also serves as a quality mark for consumers in products that have undergone rigorous quality control procedures.
Focus on authenticity
Due to the largest density of vineyards in the world, located on same latitude as other famous wine regions, such as Bordeaux, and with a climate close to that of Burgundy, Moldova is able to propose exquisite wines for the most demanding consumer. The country has combined local and international grape varieties, and blends of both with local terroir and the skills of generations of winemakers to gain a global reputation as a producer of unique, characterful premium wines.
International wine experts, who are increasingly keen to visit Moldova to discover its wines, agree that Moldova resembles a New World country in its openness of approach, and that it is distinguished on the international market by the authentic wines made from its fascinating local varieties. The authenticity and uniqueness of Wine of Moldova are shaped by indigenous varieties, which represent 10% of all area under vines: Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, etc.
Moldovan wine: success in figures
Since the launch of the “Wine of Moldova” brand, there has been a complete restructuring of export efforts, shifting the focus from Russia and other traditional markets towards new ones across the world. Today, Wine of Moldova is exported to 63 countries including most of the EU, and sales are growing steadily.
In 2017, Wine of Moldova exports reached 54,2 million bottles – 5.5% up from 2016. More importantly the value of exports was $128.5m, a rise of 16%. The volume of exported to all destinations rose, with the exception of Belarus and the Czech Republic. The biggest buyers of Moldovan bottled wines are Poland (14%), China (12%), Romania (12%), Russia (12%), the Czech Republic (11%), Ukraine (7%), Kazakhstan (7%), Belarus (5%), Canada (4%) and Slovakia (3%).
The value of Moldova’s bulk wine also increased – by 8.5% – and the price per litre has gone up significantly since 2016.
The total value of these bulk wine exports now comes to $54.4m. The top five destinations for bulk wine exports are Belarus (44%), Georgia (16%), Russia (14%) and seven percent each to Ukraine and Romania.
Over the last three years, the area of vineyards with Protected Geographical Indications has increased by 37%. Today, there are 64 winemakers in the PGI regions of Codru, Valul lui Traian, Stefan Voda, and Divin, with a total potential capacity of two million bottles. These are divided almost equally between red (0.82m bottles – 41% of the total) and white (0.9 million – 45%), with rosé – making up the remaining 0.14 million – seven percent.
In addition to the consistent efforts of all parties in the Moldovan wine sector, favorable weather conditions played a key role in making 2017 a successful year for winemaking, with a harvest 25% larger than in 2016. Thanks to the warm weather and an above-average amount of rain it was also possible to conduct a series of exercises in the experimental vineyards, introducing the latest technologies in order to improve quality and production levels while preserving the authentic Moldovan character.
Moldova’s recordbreaking wine attractions
Moldova has also focused on wine as its trump card in attracting tourists. Among its magnets for wine lovers is the biggest wine collection in the world, boasting over 1.5 million bottles. These are stored in Gothic cases, in the galleries of Milestii Mici, at a depth of 80 meters beneath the ground, just 10 kilometers away from Chisinau, the national capital. Built in the style of an old Moldovan fortress, Milestii Mici’s limestone cellars cover 55 km of winemaking facilities, and over 200 km of galleries where wine is matured in barrels and bottles. Guests can travel through the galleries by car or bicycle, or walk along underground streets with names such as Feteasca and OIV – the International Organization of Vine and Wine.
Another striking symbol of Moldovan winemaking is the underground wine city of Cricova, whose cellars stretch for 70 km and are used for a popular annual Wine Run. Founded in 1952, Cricova is Moldova’s largest producer of traditional-method sparkling wine. The National Vinotheque, an outstanding collection of legendary wines, is also kept at Cricova, and includes old vintages of Mosel, Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Port. The oldest wine in the collection, and the only bottle of its kind in the world, is a ‘Jerusalem of Easter’ wine produced in 1902 by Mogit David.
At least ten other wineries in Moldova have opened their doors to visitors, offering visits, tastings and, in some cases, overnight stays. The number of wine events and festivals is increasing every year, welcoming hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts from all over the world. Save the date for this year’s National Wine Day, which will be celebrated on 6th and 7th of October!
Wine of Moldova’s remarkable presence at international events
The ONVV promotes Wine of Moldova in strategic foreign markets by participating at, and organizing, events for international audiences. To highlight its human talent and winemaking skills, this year Moldova has a truly memorable presence at a number of wine fairs and exhibitions. The decoration for the stand – which hosts local winemakers presenting their wines under the brand of “Wine of Moldova. A Legend Alive” – has been entirely hand-made. Designed using manually-embroidered canvas, and decorated with traditional ornaments, it was inspired by the Moldovan carpets, that have been included by UNESCO on its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
To create this exclusive stand, 12 Moldovan artists worked by hand for over 2,500 hours, using 500 needles, hundreds of thousands of strokes and stitches, and over 50 kg of wool, to embroider 130 square meters of canvas. The installation which attracted huge interest at ProWein and whose production has been viewed over 60,000 times on YouTube and Facebook, symbolizes Moldovan winemaking: passionate, inspiring and aspiring – and with a unique history invloving generations of winemakers.