Moldova: Continued success from Eastern Europe

      At ProWein 2017, the Republic of Moldova will showcase more than 350 outstanding wines, under the Wine of Moldova country brand, which has become a credible guarantee of quality.

      It’s been three years since the newly established National Office for Vine and Wine (NOVW) presented its Wine of Moldova brand at ProWein in Düsseldorf. The trade visitors at ProWein 2017 will now be able to see for themselves what an enormous jump in quality the Moldovan wine industry has achieved since then. A record number of 35 Moldovan wineries will exhibit a new generation of wines, born out of ageold traditions, while inspired by modern winemaking technologies. The highlights of the Moldovan wine offer include wines blended with indigenous grape varieties, representative of the Moldovan terroir and responsive to the increased interest of wine consumers in discovering new tastes and styles.The Moldovan art of assemblage will be revealed during an interactive and innovative master class moderated byRobert Joseph, one of the most interesting international wine commentator.

      Participants will also have the opportunity to make their own assemblage, out of internationally known varieties blended with local autochthonous varieties such as Viorica, Rara Neagra, Feteasca Neagra, Feteasca Alba, and Feteasca Regala, which express the character of the Moldovan terroir.

      In addition, visitors to the Moldovan stand at ProWein will have a unique opportunity to take virtual tours to the largest cellars in the world and visit Moldova’s leading wineries using virtual reality technology.


      Moldova has succeeded in completely rethinking and re-orienting its wine industry business model towards quality and performance. Since the 2013 vintage, Moldova has had a quality system based on the EU model of protected geographical indications, covering the four growing areas of Valul lui Traian, Stefan Voda, Codru and Divin. A multistage monitoring system covers the entire production process: a national wine and vine register is being developed following European best practices and the organoleptic certification is done by authorized professional tasters.

      ‘Wine of Moldova’ became a quality sign legally enforced by the National Office for Wine and Vine (NOVW) and will be displayed on all wine bottles that have passed the quality control. This is a significant leap, because the ‘Wine of Moldova’ country marketing symbol is a further seal of quality, providing credibility to consumers. According to Gheorghe Arpentin, director of the National Office for Vine and Wine, “Wine of Moldova is the wine of change and reforms, but also it is a promise and commitment to our business partners. NOVW is implementing complex marketing programs aiming to further support market diversification and export growth of quality wines.”

      Last year alone, Moldovan winemakers took part in ten international competitions and won 45 gold, 56 silver and 64 bronze medals, where only one third of all wines submitted were so awarded. Winemakers also participated in a large number of trade fairs from Germany to China, Japan and South Korea, where they presented new wines from their homeland, as well as at B2B events in Europe and the USA.

      Moldovan wine is now sold to around 50 countries, mostly in European Union markets, which have steadily increased since 2013 when Moldova and the EU entered an Association Agreement, which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). This export growth into high-value Western markets was underpinned by the joint branding and marketing organized by NOVW under the Wine of Moldova country brand.

      The Republic of Moldova measures 33,843 square kilometres, but has more vineyards than the whole of Germany, covering some 114,000 ha. In the last years alone, some $798m has been invested in vineyards, cellar technology and marketing by the EU and other international organizations.


      Analyzing export volumes for 2016, the figures show a significant increase of Moldovan bottled wines going to China (+66%), Romania (+38%), Poland (+13%), Slovakia (+8%) and the Czech Republic (+6%). By conquering these new markets, Moldova is seeking more independence from Russia and the former Soviet Union states, namely the CIS market. From a more than 90% share two decades ago, exports to CIS states now only stand for roughly 30% of Moldovan bottled wines, which represent 40% of total Moldovan wine exports.

      While bulk wine is still a significant share of exports, its quality has also been steadily rising in recent years,
rewarded with the ‘2016 Voice of Wine’ award at the Amsterdam WBWE. At ProWein 2017, the Moldovans are seeking new customers from Germany, Central European countries, the Benelux countries, the UK, and Scandinavia. For these markets, the excellent price/ quality ratio should act as an incentive.

      Well-known wine personalities such as John Salvi MW from the UK have followed the developments for some years and have reached a positive conclusion: “Moldovan wine has changed and I am
impressed by it, especially the red wines, which bear the specifics of the terroir, differentiating them on the international market. Everyone has Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, while Moldova can stand out by its authentic wines made of local varieties.” Polish wine journalist and buyer Pawel Gasiorek adds: “The future for Moldova is to promote the local varieties such as Feteasca and Rara Neagra, which makes it stand out on the international market and become more interesting. This is the future!


     Many people are unaware that winegrowing in this small country dates back more than 3,000 years to the time of the Dacians. The white stork is the symbol of the Moldovan wine industry, as well as a symbol of the continual revival of Moldova, and is the subject of many local legends. The main country statement is: “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 everyone can embrace.” Perhaps it is no coincidence that Moldova’s outline looks like a bunch of grapes, as wine plays a major role in the lives of its approximately 3m inhabitants. The Moldovans are also focusing on wine as their trump card in the development of tourism: The country’s attractions include the longest wine cellars in the world (created from former limestone quarries) with labyrinths that are more than 200 km long, as recorded in the 2005 Guinness Book of Records. Other attractions include numerous Orthodox monasteries and plenty of unspoilt nature and countryside.


      The biggest wine collection in the world, consisting of more than 1.5m bottles, is stored at a depth of 80 metres, in Gothic style cases, in the underground galleries of Milestii Mici, situated just 10 kilometres away from the capital Chisinau. With its underground limestone galleries stretching a total length of 200 km and descending to a depth of 80 metres, Milestii Mici is a construction in the style of Moldova’s old feudal fortresses. These outstanding cellars include an area of 55 km of galleries where technological production processes are carried out, and some other dozens of kilometres, where wine is matured in barrels and bottles. Guests may travel through the galleries by car or by bicycle, or they can walk down the streets, called such names as Feteasca and OIV.


      Another striking symbol of Moldovan winemaking is the underground wine city Cricova, which has galleries stretching for 70 km. Founded in 1952, Cricova is Moldova’s biggest producer of sparkling wine using the traditional method. The National Vinotheque, an outstanding collection of legendary wines, is kept at Cricova, and include old vintages of Moselle, Bourgogne, Bordeaux, and Porto. The oldest wine in the collection, and the only one of its kind in the world, is the wine Easter Jerusalem, which was produced in just one batch in 1902.


      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. Their success is demonstrated by the fact that, in 2016, the number of foreign visitors rose by 19%. After several visits to Moldova, Robert Joseph believes that “…Moldova has the opportunity to be a good blend philosophically between the best of the New World thinking – ‘Let’s try lots of different things – with some old-world respect for terroir and traditions”