The Wines of Moldova
We’re always on the hunt for something new and different in the wine world, and although they’ve been around for millions of years, we’re becoming quite infatuated with the wines of Moldova.
To be specific, there are fossils of grape vines near the Naslavcia village in the northern part of Moldova, a tiny country seated between Romania and Ukraine, that date back about 6 to 25 million years ago. Grapes were grown and tended to there many, many centuries ago but it was around the 15th century that winemaking and grape growing began to flourish. Like many Old World regions, the phylloxera epidemic in the 19th century required a mass regrowth in Moldova, however, there was significant damage after both World Wars so Moldovan wine regions had to restart again in the 1950s.
There are 112,000 hectares of vineyard in Moldova with over 50 varieties, and 67 million bottles of wine exported each year. Originally, most of that exportation went to Russia but in 2013, they were cut off because of a conflict and were forced to find other markets for export. Now, over 80% of Moldova’s wine is exported to 50 countries, with Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Czech Republic, the US, and China included in the top importers.
Within Moldova, there are three main wine producing regions: Codru, Stefan Voda, and Valul lui Traian. Codru is the largest and accounts for about 50% of the total production within Moldova with specialties in white wines, as well as reds that are used for blends throughout Europe. Stefan Voda is much smaller, only about 15,000 hectares, but because of its geographical location near the water, it has cooler temperatures which help produce Pinot Noir. Finally, Valul lui Traian is flanked by two ancient walls, providing a gorgeous scene over the rolling hills in the southern part of the nation.
The country produces about 70% white wines (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rkatsiteli), almost exclusively from the Codru region, with reds (Merlot, Pinot Noir, Saperavi) making up the rest in the southern regions. Moldova is known for its Guinness book record size underground cellars which hold about 1.5 million bottles of wine and house tasting rooms to avoid the hot summer suns.