Moldova

Moldova

138000
vineyard hectares
4
regions
6
subregions
55
wineries
about this region

Moldova, a small yet significant wine-producing country, is located in Eastern Europe, nestled between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east, and south. This geographical positioning places Moldova in a zone with a moderate continental climate, characterized by warm summers and mild winters, an ideal setting for grape cultivation.

The country's winemaking regions are primarily spread across its central and southern parts. Notable regions include Codru, known for its hilly terrain and forests which moderate the climate; Valul lui Traian, featuring warmer and drier conditions, conducive for red wine varieties; and Stefan Voda, which benefits from the Black Sea's influence, creating a unique microclimate.

Moldova's terroir is diverse, with a mix of limestone, chalk, gravel, and clay soils, each imparting different qualities to the grapes. The country's rich black soil, particularly in the central part of Moldova, is especially favorable for cultivating a range of grape varieties, both indigenous like Fetească Neagră and Rară Neagră, and international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

The combination of favorable climatic conditions, diverse soil types, and the influence of the nearby Black Sea contributes to Moldova's unique terroir, making it an intriguing and diverse wine country with a long history of winemaking that dates back thousands of years. Moldova's wine industry is also distinguished by its extensive wine cellars, like the famous Mileștii Mici, which holds one of the largest wine collections in the world.

The country's wine industry is in constant development. According to data provided by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), in 2020 Moldova exported $134 million worth of wine, making it the 20th largest exporter of wine in the world and wine the 3rd most important export product for Moldova. The Top 5 importers of Moldovan wine in 2020 were Belarus, Romania, the Czech Republic, Russia and Poland. Not exactly indicators of coveted wines but with this level of production, quality is bound to edge higher and higher.

According to Statista, in 2022 there was a decrease in per-capita income from wine sales (US$331.42 in 2021 versus US$297.23 in 2022), during 2023 the figure is expected to increase to US$350.57.

Moldova's rich winemaking heritage is reflected in its diverse grape varieties. From the classic reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to the aromatic whites such as Rkatiteli and Chardonnay, and the unique indigenous grapes like Feteasca Albă, Moldova offers a tapestry of flavors that delights wine enthusiasts from around the world.

Associations

vinerra illustration

Moldova's winemaking tradition is deeply intertwined with a wide range of grape varieties, each distinguished by its unique characteristics and specific cultivation needs. These grapes thrive in diverse regions, shaping Moldova's vibrant viticultural landscape. Here's an overview of some prominent grape varieties:

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon vines typically feature dark, thick-skinned grapes. They flourish in Moldova's continental climate with well-drained soils and benefit from consistent sunlight and warm temperatures.
  2. Merlot: Merlot grapes, known for their soft and approachable characteristics, thrive in vineyards with moderate temperatures and good air circulation. Well-draining soils are essential for their growth.
  3. Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir grapes prefer cool climates and well-drained soils with limestone content. Moldova's cooler regions provide an ideal environment for this finicky grape variety.
  4. Aligote: Aligote vines require cool, temperate climates and well-ventilated vineyards. They are adaptable but achieve their best potential in regions with cooler summers.
  5. Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc grapes thrive in regions with a mild to warm climate, allowing them to develop their characteristic acidity and aromatic potential. Well-drained soils contribute to their quality.
  6. Rkatiteli: Rkatiteli grapes are well-suited to Moldova's continental climate. They require proper vineyard management, including diligent pruning and canopy control, to achieve optimal fruit ripening.
  7. Chardonnay: Chardonnay vines adapt well to various climates, but Moldova's moderate regions with sufficient sunlight and well-draining soils offer ideal conditions for their growth.
  8. Rhein Riesling: Rhein Riesling grapes flourish in cooler climates and well-ventilated vineyards. They thrive in regions with a mix of sun and shade during the growing season.
  9. Pinot Gris: Pinot Gris grapes, similar to Pinot Noir, prefer cool climates and well-drained soils with limestone content. These conditions enable them to express their delicate character fully.
  10. Feteasca Albă: Feteasca Albă, an indigenous Moldovan grape, adapts well to the country's diverse climates. However, it thrives in regions with moderate temperatures and well-drained soils.

These grape varieties collectively contribute to Moldova's dynamic wine scene, offering a range of choices for both winemakers and enthusiasts while adapting to the country's various terroirs and microclimates.

Moldovan wines, reflecting the country's rich viticultural heritage, offer a diverse range of flavors and aromas, with distinct characteristics in both red and white varieties. Here's a closer look at some of the most common wines from Moldova:

  1. Fetească Albă: This indigenous white variety is known for its exquisite, floral aromas, lightness, and freshness. It has a unique aromatic profile with dominant notes of vine blossom, linden flower, acacia, wild flowers, hay, apricot, blackberry, and citrus fruits, reflecting its adaptation to the continental climate and the grey soils of the Codru region​​.
  2. Fetească Neagră: With over 2000 years of history, this red variety originated in the valley of the Prut river in Moldova. Wines made from Fetească Neagră exhibit a rich bouquet full of berry and cherry flavors, complemented by a long, fruity aftertaste. Its profile is marked by a complexity of flavors and a fine-grained tannin structure that provides a long finish​​​​.
  3. Rara Neagră: Cultivated since the times of the Dacians, Rara Neagră wines are known for their fresh tones and soft taste, with notes of dried fruits and vanilla. This red wine style, also called Babeasca Neagra, showcases red fruits, cherry, raspberry, prune, and elegant notes of violet, light and delicate on the palate with soft tannins​​.
  4. Chardonnay: Moldovan Chardonnay wines are characterized by intense fruit aromatics that include vegetal, pepper, berry fruit, leather, and black tea notes on the nose. The palate is fresh, well-balanced, and features high tannins, making it well-integrated and appealing​​.
  5. Sauvignon Blanc: This white variety, popular in Moldova, typically showcases intense lime and sweet apricot flavors. Its profile includes floral notes reminiscent of a daisy chain in a green meadow, complemented by fresh creamy milk notes, creating a unique and refreshing taste experience​​.
  6. Pinot Gris: Renowned for its exotic and delicate fruit profile, Moldovan Pinot Gris offers rose, ginger, and spice notes, with a sweet palate. Its freshness and decent structure are complemented by an elevated finish, making it a distinctive choice among Moldovan wines​​.

These wines, each with their unique aromatic and flavor profile, embody the diversity and richness of Moldova's wine heritage. Whether it's the floral and fresh tones of Fetească Albă or the rich and fruity notes of Fetească Neagră, Moldovan wines offer a distinct and memorable experience to wine enthusiasts.

History of the Region

The history of winemaking in Moldova is a journey through time, beginning as far back as the Neolithic Period, approximately 7000 years ago. This ancient tradition started during the Cucuteni-Trypillia culture, one of the oldest civilizations in Europe, which included the territory of modern Moldova. Evidence from this period reveals the domestication and cultivation of wild vines, along with the cultivation of crops like wheat, barley, millet, and others​​.

The 6th century BC marked the arrival of Greek colonization along the north-western coast of the Black Sea, which played a significant role in advancing the local winemaking knowledge. The Greeks introduced new vine varieties and winemaking technologies, such as dense plantations and short pruning, greatly enhancing the quality of local wines. This period saw an integration of Greek and local wine cultures, leading to the development of new grape varieties and improved winemaking techniques​​.

From the 9th to the 14th centuries, the spread of Christianity brought a new dimension to winemaking in Moldova, as wine became a significant element in religious rituals. Monasteries and churches started cultivating vineyards and producing quality red wines for use in communion. This period saw the establishment of the first vineyards specifically for winemaking within monastic settings​​.

In the later medieval period, particularly from the 12th century onwards, winemaking began to play a more crucial role in Moldova's economy. The country's strategic geographical location facilitated the export of wine to neighboring countries like Russia and Poland. By the middle of the 14th century, Moldova had established itself as a prominent wine-producing region, with a well-developed infrastructure for vine cultivation and wine storage in the cellars of the nobility​​.

The 15th century witnessed further development under the reign of Stephen the Great, with the introduction of Hungarian grape varieties such as Hars Leveliu and Furmint. The Cotnari vineyards became particularly famous during this period, with their wines gaining recognition for their aging potential and quality. The vineyards of Odobesti, Husi, and Focsani also gained fame, and the vineyards of Iasi developed significantly under the reign of Alexandru Lapusneanu​​.

However, the Moldovan winemaking industry faced challenges during the Ottoman occupation, with a significant decline in winemaking activities until the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1812. This period saw a halt in the development of the wine industry until the annexation of the region by Russia, after which the wine market expanded considerably. By the early 20th century, Moldova became a significant wine producer in the Russian Empire, with a substantial increase in vineyard areas and wine production​​.

The 20th century brought its own set of challenges and advancements. The Basarabian Winemaking College, established in the late 19th century, played a pivotal role in educating specialists and advancing research in viticulture and winemaking. The pre-phylloxera period saw a boom in wine production, but the advent of diseases like oidium powdery mildew and phylloxera in the late 19th century caused significant damage to the vineyards​​.

During the Soviet era, Moldova experienced mass vine cultivation and significant growth in wine production. By the 1980s, the Soviet Republic of Moldova ranked sixth in the world in terms of vineyard areas and wine production. This period saw the development of several winemaking enterprises, an increase in the production of sparkling wine, and a focus on cultivating both European and local grape varieties​​.

In summary, the history of winemaking in Moldova is a rich tapestry of cultural influences, technological advancements, and economic shifts. From its ancient roots to its modern-day prominence, Moldovan winemaking reflects the resilience and adaptability of its people in the face of changing historical circumstances.

Regions and Subregions

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