I visited Moldova in October of 2013 to attend the annual Wine Festival, which is usually held on the first weekend of the month. I also visited 4 of the best wineries in Moldova. If you didn’t know, Moldova is famous for its wineries. Winemaking is deeply entrenched in Moldova’s culture through its history, tradition and economy. Once a large supplier of wine to the Soviet Union, Moldova reinvented its wine culture once it gained independence.
Now, it even has the world record holder for the biggest wine cellar and wine collection in the world. Most of the wineries are right outside of Chisinau, so they are very easy day trips. Here are our top 4 best wineries you must visit when in Moldova!
Milestii Mici “Largest Cellar and Wine Collection.”
Milestii Mici is widely known for having the longest wine tunnels in Moldova. Actually, it is the one that holds the Guinness World Record for containing the largest wine collection and having the biggest cellar of any other winery in the world! The winery here features 200 kilometers of ‘cellar’ space, though only about half is used. The underground tunnels even reach the borders of Chisinau and are often nicknamed the ‘underground city.’ This Impressive underground wine city is characterized by traditional winemaking and Moldovan hospitality.
Being only 18 km from Chisinau, it’s convenient to take a visit to Milestii Mici and tour the underground city where each wine tunnel is named after a grape variety or wine. They are at a depth of 35-85 meters below the ground and according to Guinness, they store 2 million bottles of wine. The cellars are comprised of 70% red, 20% white and 10% dessert wines. Wine tasting here is done in a very traditional Moldovan way, where the wine was served in hand-made ceramic pots, paired with local delicacies and enjoyed to Moldovan instrumental music. It’s a taste of pure harmony that you shouldn’t miss!
Cricova is an underground Wine Kingdom, which is found 15 km north of Chisinau in the village of Cricova. The winery is famous for its sparkling wines and dry wines. Actually, it is one of the few wineries in the world that produce sparkling wines according to the traditional Champenoise method. It is the second largest winery in Moldova, boasting a total length of 120 km. Its tunnels are carved in limestone and have been there since the 15th century when limestone was dug out to build Chisinau, Moldova’s capital city. They were then converted into an underground wine emporium in the 1950s. The porosity of the limestone creates a perfect environment to store wines, where the temperature is about 12c all year round.
Cricova is a winery you must visit while in Moldova, especially if you like pomp and a bit of opulence with an Eastern European twist. You will get to witness first-hand, the unique process of making Champagne, or as they call it here, Sparkling Wine. You will also get to the impressive cellars, holding remarkable collections of vintage wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tokaj and other wine regions. After you are through with Cricova, you can head to the much-awarded Acorex vineyard just down the hill.
The Chateau Vartely Winery was founded in 2008, but has already established itself as one of Moldova’s top wineries both locally and internationally, receiving over 10,000 wine tourists a year. It is located just about an hour from Chisinau, and it’s a perfect place for wine tourists to stay the night in a rural environment. Not only will you be impressed with the wines, but also by the tourism facilities and the high standard of service.
Chateau Vartely cellar has two tasting rooms, and there is also an internationally themed room showcasing a worldwide famous collection of both Old and New World wines. The rooms are beautifully decorated with dark wood panels and candelabras creating a romantic atmosphere. Here, you can have a taste of their amazing wines that are blended with modern technology intertwined with local tradition. On a perfect day out from the city, make sure you visit Chateau Vartely for a wine tour, tasting and lunch, just 45 km from the capital.
The Purcari Winery was founded in 1827, and its found about a two-hour drive southeast of Chisinau. This winery is well known for its premium Moldovan wines. Their sloped vine fields enjoy a temperate micro-climate that is moderated by winds from the nearby Black Sea, making it ideal for the production of red and black grapes. Having been in existence for almost 2 decades, Purcari boasts a long tradition of winemaking, with its cellars remaining unchanged since its inception year. This makes the cellars the oldest and most famous in Moldova.
Tastings with or without meals are available, as are rooms for those who need several days to metabolize the winery’s offerings or want to use Purcari as a staging area for forays to other wineries clustered in the area, particularly Et Cetera. The winery produces about 500,000 bottles of wine a year, which is relatively modest compared to its peers. However, after tasting them, you may as well say they major on quality, rather than quantity. Apart from the wines, you will surely enjoy the natural beauty of the place, and their customer service. This is definitely a perfect wine place on your day away from the capital!
If you are into wine, you must put Moldova on your bucket list. A visit here will let you enjoy the culture of wine making and you will find all sorts of wines from sweet, semi-sweet, and fortified wines to rare “collection wines,” produced 10-20 years ago and stored in Moldova’s famous underground cellars. Even if you’re not a huge wine fanatic like I am, atleast don’t miss a day trip to Milestii Mici.
A special thank you to WaysTravel for inviting me to experience this beautiful country!
Did you enjoy the 4 best wineries in Moldova? Leave us a comment below!