Under communism 3 types of wine producers developed. Government owned research establishments, nationalised wine estates and co-operative vineyards linked to the wine estates.
Research facilities still exist today, with their own vineyards intended for large-scale research.
Co-operatives have been privatised. Co-op workers have been each given an equal sized plot of land. Results not successful. Vineyards have been grubbed up for other crops, or vineyard quality has dropped due to lack of expertise or finance. Wine buyers buy more from research establishments and large wine estates as quality is higher than from the individual producers.
Still overcoming problems since the fall of communism, Romania has huge quality potential but a lack of finance to show it. Desperate need for more investment.
Largely local consumption of production, with only 15% production for export. Industry engaged in a program of capital investment with significant rise in sales in the UK.
Climate divided by the Carpathian mountain range. North and west is continental with cold, short winters and warm summers with long autumns. To the east, the Black Sea has a maritime effect. Winters are mild and summers are hot.
Great variety of soils, generally stony and free draining near Carpathians, alluvial and sand nearer the coast.
Good hygiene standards. Recent purchasing of better equipment, including bottling lines and temperature- controlled tanks has seen improvements in quality. More wineries make use of consultant winemakers and young Romanian winemakers are working vintage in the New World and brining back ideas.
Fifth largest producer in Europe with 250,000 hectares. Eight regions.
Dealu Mare- Romania
South facing slopes of the Carpathian foothills, north of Bucharest. Range of red wines produced from Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and local varieties, fruity with soft tannins.
Coastal region with limestone soils. Whites including Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, soft reds from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
North east of the country. Known for production of Contra. Sweet wine made from botrytised grapes.
Oldest wine region in Romania and coolest with highest altitudes, vines planted on steep slopes. Traditional varieties dominate, such as Feteasca. Wines produced have a similar elegance and acidity to Mosel Rieslings.
Sometimes distinguished white grape variety grown almost exclusively on almost 600 ha in austria. dna profiling in Austria showed it is a cross, possibly accidental, of roter veltliner × sylvaner, which makes nutty wine that tastes like an even fuller-bodied Weissburgunder. It is also encountered in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Transylvania in romania.
Hungarian name for the increasingly fashionable red grape variety known in Austria as blaufränkisch (of which it is a direct translation) and grown on 8,000 ha/20,000 acres of Hungary, mainly on the Great Plain, in Eger, and, most successfully, in Sopron near the Austrian border where it is responsible for some of Hungary’s finest reds.
Ancient, cold-hardy Georgian white grape variety which was so widely planted in what was the Soviet Union that in 1990 it was estimated to be the world’s third most planted overall. Thanks to President gorbachev’s vine pull scheme, by 2000 it had fallen to fourteenth place. It is still widely planted in the former Soviet republics, however, being grown in all of its wine-producing independent republics with the exception of turkmenistan. It is, understandably, most important in georgia, particularly in Kakheti. It is also the most planted variety in ukraine, second only to Muscat Ottonel in bulgaria, is widely planted in moldova, and is commonplace in russia and armenia. As Baiyu it reached China and has adapted well to the inland wine regions there with their cold winters. It was presumably its cold resistance that inspired Finger Lakes grower Konstantin Frank to plant it in New York state and it is now planted in Virginia and several other American states.
Much is demanded of this productive variety and it achieves much, providing a base for a wide range of wine styles, including fortified wines and brandy. The wine is distinguished by a keen level of acidity, easily 9 g/l even when picked as late as October, and by good sugar levels too.
One of Europe’s poorest countries, may have been one of the geographically smallest states of the former Soviet Union but it had more vineyard than any other apart from ukraine and the table grape producer uzbekistan. According to industry reports, there were still 142,000 ha/350,090 acres of vineyard in 2011, including 112,000 ha planted with vinifera wine grapes. It has real potential for wine quality and range, thanks to its extensive vineyards, temperate continental climate, and gently undulating landscape sandwiched between eastern romania and ukraine. It declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 as the Republic of Moldova with the same boundaries as the previous Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. The eastern part of the country is the breakaway zone of Transnistria (not currently recognized by any UN member state), described by the Republic of Moldova as the ‘Transnistria autonomous territorial unit with special legal status’. Moldavian is the main official language, which is very similar to Romanian and spoken by around two-thirds of the population.
Archaeological evidence—of leaves of Vitis teutonica—confirms that the vine was widely grown in this area, Bessarabia, millions of years ago. Grape seeds dating back to 2800 bc have been found, as well as amphorae, and the well-documented voyages to this region by the Greeks and then Romans can only have encouraged this particular branch of agriculture. herodotus visited the colonies of Ancient greece at the mouth of the rivers Dnepr and Dnestr in the middle of the 5th century bc and reported that wine drinking was already common there.
After the feudal state of Moldova was formed in the second half of the 14th century ad, trade was established with russia, ukraine, and Poland, and Moldovan viticulture developed rapidly, reaching a high point in the 15th century during the era of Stephan the Great.
The Turkish occupation of Bessarabia (or Bogdan as it was known in the Ottoman empire) was a severe blow to Moldovan wine production (see islam), and it was only after the country was annexed to Russia in 1812 that the industry was revived. By 1837, vineyards totalled 14,500 ha/35,750 acres and total wine production was more than 100,000 hl/2.6 million gal. Moldova, with neighbouring Wallachia, formed the basis for independent Romania in the middle of the 19th century. In 1891, Moldova’s vineyard totalled 107,000 ha, much of it planted with vine varieties imported from France, but was severely ravaged by phylloxera and powdery mildew until grafting was adopted in 1906. The tsars provided incentives to grow European vine varieties, which still predominate. By 1914, the province of Bessarabia (the part of Moldova between the rivers Prut and Dnestr) was Russia’s most important source of wine. In 1940, the country was annexed by Russia and the vineyards were once again devastated, by the effects of the Second World War. The post-war period revival period saw energetic reconstruction and the spread of international varieties so that by 1984 Moldova’s vineyard area reached a peak of 258,000 ha/637,530 acres.
Since then, gorbachev’s anti-alcoholism campaign, followed by the economically devastating effect of the Russian bans on imported Moldovan wine in 2006 and 2009, shrank the vineyard area to its current total, although a 2013 industry analysis suggested that only around 60,000 ha/148,263 acres have commercial production potential because of the advanced vine age and poor quality of many vines. As yet no official vineyard register is in place.
Moldova- Climate and Geography
Much of Moldova is low and hilly, rarely rising above 350 m/1,150 ft above sea level and with a gradual descent towards the Black Sea in the south. The climate is ideal for viticulture, with average summer temperatures of around 20 °C/68 °F. Spring (and occasionally winter) frost can be a problem but the active temperature summation is between 2,700 °C in the north and 3,400 °C in the south. (see climate classification). The main rivers are the Dniester and the Prut. The country’s four historical wine production zones are: Bălți (most northerly), Codru (central), Ștefan Vodă (south east), and Valul lui Trajan (south west). The last three of these have been established as pgis while the remaining region of Bălți grows only 3% of the country’s vines, mainly for distillation.
Codru in the centre of Moldova has a continental climate with mild winters thanks to the protective, forested hills to the north. Annual rainfall is 550 mm to 680 mm (22–27 in) and 2,135 sunshine hours. It is noted for fresh, floral whites and structured, cool-climate reds that can age well. Valul lui Trajan is the most important region for Vitis vinifera and it has a more mediterranean climate with low annual rainfall (350 mm to 500 mm) and an elevation of 280 to 300 m, while average annual sunshine is approximately 2,500 hours. Warm, dry summers, mild winters, and well-drained soils make this region best regarded for its rich reds. Ștefan Vodă in the south east has a temperate continental climate, with influence from the Black Sea. Rainfall is 450 mm to 550 mm a year but elevations are very low at just 60 to 70 m while annual sunshine hours are 2,200. Its most famous district is Purcari (and the renovated historic winery of the same name), noted for long-lived reds, especially Negru de Purcari. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Saperavi, and Rara Neagră was famously the only wine exported from Moldova in Soviet times.
Although at the end of the 20th century much of the vineyard was controlled by state farms, by the second decade of this century around 75% of vines were in private ownership with the remainder owned by wineries. Wineries are all fully privatized with the exception of state-owned enterprises Cricova and Mileştii Mici (famous for the largest collection of bottled wine in the world and for the largest network, 200 km, of underground cellars).
Unlike Russia to the north east, Moldova is able to grow the great majority of its vines without winter protection. Most vines are cordon-trained on medium-height trellises. Very little irrigation is in place and 90% of vineyard work is done by hand due to low wages and reasonable availability of labour. Average vine age is notably high but some 30,000 ha/74,131 acres of vineyard were replanted between 2006 and 2013, with substantial holdings now owned and managed directly by private wineries. Several aid organizations have been working in Moldova to support the wine industry given the economic significance of wine.
Moldova- Vine varieties
Moldova has a more European range of grape varieties than any other state of the former Soviet Union, with about 70% light-skinned grapes. According to official figures, 73% of varieties are European (including Aligoté 23%, Sauvignon Blanc 9%, Chardonnay 4%, Riesling 3%, Traminer 2%, and for reds Merlot 9%, Cabernet Sauvignon 8%, Pinot Noir 7%). A further 17% are described as Caucasian, including Rkatsiteli (15%) and Saperavi, while just 10% are local varieties including fetească alba, fetească regală, fetească neagră, and Rara Neagră (aka băbească neagră). Recent industry emphasis has been directed towards developing these indigenous varieties both as varietal wines and in blends.
Moldova- Wines produced
Prior to the first Russian ban in 2006, wine quality was distinctly poor as old Soviet winemaking technology was commonplace, and little attention was paid to hygiene or controlling oxidation. This was driven by the reliance on Russia (which had 80% of the export market), where demand was for semi-dry or semi-sweet wines, based on price and packaging with little attention paid to wine quality. The bans, believed to have been politically motivated, provided Moldova with the motivation to improve. Modern equipment is now widespread among key players whose vineyard ownership allows them to control grape quality, and winemakers often have foreign training or experience. Heavy bureaucracy has been abandoned and this has encouraged the establishment of small boutique wineries and an association of small wineries. Modern wine styles usually show good natural acidity and relatively moderate alcohol levels with good varietal expression. Reds can be long-lived, but are still sometimes too green and made from under-ripe grapes. Moldova continues to make some fortified wines, accounting for around 4% of production in 2012, notably Cagor, a 16%, partially fermented red, often based on Cabernet. Sparkling wines, both tank- and bottle-fermented, accounted for 6.2% of production in 2012, with state‐owned Cricova the most notable producer. Famous reds made in the early 1960s such as Negru de Purcari and Rosu de Purcari have been revived since 2003.
Moldova- Modern Industry Structure
The wine industry is a strategic and economically important sector for Moldova, accounting in 2012 for 3.2% of GDP, 7.5% of Moldova’s exports by value, and 14.4% of agricultural output, while 7% of the country’s arable land is vineyard. There were 140 wine companies in 2014 although only 34 produced quality wines. Production in 2012 was approximately 1.36 million hl/nearly 36 million gal (although average production has typically been closer to 1.5 million hl, compared with around 4 million hl before the first Russian ban in 2006). The vast majority is exported (40% as bottled wine, the rest as bulk). By volume, leading export destinations are the former Soviet states, which take 68% (compared with 90% in 2004). Of these, Russia remains most important (at 38%), followed by kazakhstan (15%), Ukraine (11%), and Belarus (6%). Domestic consumption of commercial wine is slowly increasing but is dwarfed by consumption of homemade wines (often from hybrids such as Lidia and Isabella) estimated at 37.8 l/10 gal per capita. A Wine of Moldova brand was launched in 2014 to encourage exports outside the old Soviet bloc.
Means ‘young girl’ and is associated with three important eastern European vine varieties. The ‘royal’ Feteascǎ Regalǎ was (just) the most planted variety in 2013 in romania where it produced crisp, scented whites from nearly 13,000 ha/32,000 acres of vineyard. Total Romanian plantings of ‘white’ Feteascǎ Albǎ, which almost certainly originated in moldova and is often used for sparkling wines, were said to have grown to 12,633 ha/31,203 acres. In neighbouring Moldova and ukraine, statistics do not distinguish between the two pale-skinned Feteascǎs, which are typically blended and sold simply as Feteascǎ. The dark-skinned Feteascǎ Neagrǎ, whose red wines show potential when well vinified and yields are severely restricted, was much less common and planted on just over 2,500 ha of Romania and is also grown in Ukraine. dna profiling suggests that the dark-skinned Feteascǎ is a particularly old variety and may not be related to either of the light-skinned ones. (In Romanian, Feteascǎ, meaning young girl’s grape, contrasts directly with bǎbeascǎ, grandmother’s grape.)
Once-famous sweet white wine produced in wild, hilly countryside in the north Romanian Moldova Hills (see romania for geographical details). At one time it rivalled Hungarian tokaji as an elixir of fashion sought after in the courts of northern Europe. It was still fashionable in Paris at the end of the 19th century, and it is clear that noble rot has played an important role here for several centuries, and continues to do so every three or four years today. It is still very popular in Romania.
The doc allows wine to be made from any of the four local white grape varieties grown in the region, although Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Fetească Neagră, and Busuioacă de Bohotin are also permitted. The wines are often vinified from dry to semi-sweet, as single varieties, or as a traditional blend containing a minimum of 30% grasǎ (which provides the body and sugar). tămâioasă Românească provides its `frankincense’ aromas (and sugar without losing acidity in the Cotnari mesoclimate), Frâncuşă gives the acidity (it must make up at least 30% in a blend, although it can suffer from poor fruit set), and Feteascǎ Albǎ the aroma. Occasionally, Grasǎ ripens to very high sugar levels and may be affected by noble rot. Such wines can be long-lived and impressive—and are released occasionally as ‘collection’ wines. Oak ageing is usually for only six months to one year, unlike tokaji azsu, and Cotnari has a typically greenish tinge when young.