CRICOVA the Biggest Cellar in the World
Cricova was founded in 1952 and is one of the oldest wineries to produce high quality wines in the Republic of Moldova.
Cricova cultivates 220 hectares (ha) of vineyards in the village of Cricova, 200 ha near city Criuleni that are located in the central region, and 135 ha in Lucesti village, in the county of Cahul situated in the south –regions known for their excellent national conditions for producing quality grapes.
The Cricova wine cellars are an integral part of wine production at the JSC Winery of Cricova and are situated 15 km northeast from Chişinău.
Cricova winery was initially conceived as a company making high quality wines in accordance with strict, classical European rules. The primary secret of the originality of Cricova wines is the unique microclimate of its subterranean cellars where these noble drinks are matured.
The single microclimate of its natural wine cellars – with a year-round temperature of 10° – 12°C and high relative air humidity of 96 – 98%, is the distinctive feature of Cricova. The natural microclimate of its cellars is ideal for the preservation and ageing of high quality vintage and collection wines and matured classical bottle sparkling wines.
The depth of cellars varies from 35 meters at cellar’s entrance to 80 meters. Cricova cellars create a deep, subterranean town with illuminated wide streets and avenues, with every street name corresponding to a wine.
Tunnels have existed under Cricova since the 15th century, when limestone was dug out to help build Chişinău. They were converted into an underground wine emporium in the 1952s.
According to data collected by the Winery Survey Service, the avenues have an average length of 55 km. Road widths vary from 6.0 to 7.5 meters and heights from 3 to 3.5 meters. The wine cellars, together with the workshops, use 35 ha of the almost 53 ha of the subterranean area available.
Underground there are expansive tasting halls, unique in the world for visitors to discover the diversity of Moldovan wine.
Among them is the European Hall, Sea bottom “European hall”, “Casa Mare” (guest-room),”Sea Bottom”, “Presidential Hall”, “Fireplace Hall”, where different international, national and other wine tastings are held.
The winery is also unique in Moldova because it is one of four companies in the CIS that has produced sparkling wine (champagne) since 1956. Cricova produces its sparkling wines according to the classical French method used in Champagne, at Otvilier Abbey by the winemaking monk Pierre Perignon.
The holiest of holy in the Cricova cellars is the national wine collection. Starting with 1953, bottles were brought from the world over! The collection today boasts almost 1 million bottles, the price of which is immeasurable. In 1954 as the history of the famous collection of Cricova winery began to take shape, the company constructed an expansive special section for collection wines.
At the end of 1967, the collection in Cricova cellars was named the National Collection, which contained 465 varieties of wine, divin and liqueur, produced both in the country and abroad. Among them can be found the Goering Collection, the components of which include moselle, rein, burgogne and other wines of pre-WWII vintage. The pot de crème of Cricova’s collection is Red Sweet Jerusalem Wine, a long, wide-necked bottle standing under a bell glass with in a vast cylinder, containing wine poured in 1902. From the very beginning its circulation was small, but now there remains only one bottle in the world.
In 2002 Cricova was awarded with the most honorable state distinction – “Order of the Republic”, and, a year later, by a special Presidential Decree, the company was declared “the object of national and cultural patrimony”.
Cricova cellars are an attraction for the thousands of tourists and also for notorious personalities, politicians, opinion leaders and famous people all over the world. It was visited by Iurie Gagarin, Angela Merkel, John Kerry, etc.
Legend has it that in 1966 cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin entered the cellars, re-emerging (with assistance) two days later. Russian president Vladimir Putin celebrated his 50th birthday there.