Adding a famous new wine country to our roster of visits: Moldova

Map showing Moldova to the east of Romania

As we departed, our friends were puzzled where we were going.  When we told them that we were going to Kischinau, the capital of Moldova, that small republic squeezed between Romania and Ukraine, which has the Guinness Book of Records of the largest wine caves and has numerous wineries, some producing exceptionally good varietals and vintages, it raised a few eyebrows with the comment, “Where is that Kischinau?”

The fountain at the entrance to Milestii Mici.

Whenever I have a new destination, I feel the urge to do my homework and learn about the history of the country.

Moldova became an independent country in the early nineteenth century in the area then known as Bessarabia.  The principality of Moldova was founded in 1359.  Earlier in Antiquity, it was the home of the Dacian tribe.  It became part of the Roman civilization and, subsequently, of the Byzantine Empire which collapsed at the time of the discovery of the New World and came under Ottoman rule.

The largest underground wine cave according to the Guinness World Records.

Between the two world Wars, Moldova was integrated as part of Greater Romania and was annexed by the USSR in 1944 until the fall of the Soviet empire.

It is an interesting country of 3 million people that blends different ethnicities:  Romanians, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Russians, Bulgarians, and Germans.

Our promise was that we would report upon our return.

We were fortunate to be accompanied by Matthew Meyer, our fabulous winemaker, and his wife Elena Barber who was born in Moldova.

An attractive display when going towards the tasting area.

 

One of the tasting rooms with sixty seats. To the right, Russian guests who are treated to traditional Bohemian music while enjoying the wines.

Early this month, we flew from Dulles to Munich and the next day found ourselves in Kischinau where Matthew and Elena picked us up at the airport.  The next day, the visit of the caves of Milestii Mici had been organized.  It is located about twenty minutes from the center of Kichinau.

The glass with the logo of Milestii Mici.

The next day, we went to Cricova, another winery, which has equally impressive caves.

In both caves, we were shown around by accomplished English speaking guides.

While in Moldova, we were invited to spend an evening and overnight in Elena’s family’s home village.  Following tradition in the “old country”, they prepared an absolutely sumptuous dinner of lamb, polenta, stuffed peppers, a variety of sausages, home-made wine, and numerous small glasses of ten-year old brandy.  “Salut”, as it is said in the Romanian language, or “Na Zdrovia” in Russian also commonly spoken in Moldova.

As we left the country for meetings in the Perigord, we felt very pleased at our discovery of Moldovan wines and may try to arrange to bring a few of those bottles to share with our friends.

Matthew, Elena, Francoise and I at a local Folkloric restaurant. Great food and good wines.

Dinner invitation at Elena’s family. Left to right: Igor, Katerina’s husband; Elena’s nephew; Katerina, her kind sister; and her Father.

From left to right: Francoise, Elena, Katerina & Elena’s mom

The tourists enjoying a giant meal with Elena’s family.

Cricova – The second largest winery in Moldova

Wine Knights of the Round Table can enjoy their wines.

Another tasting room ready for a serious meal.

 

As we left the country for meetings in the Perigord, we felt very pleased at our discovery of Moldovan wines and may try to arrange to bring a few of those bottles to share with our friends.

Cheers to all,
Patrick Duffeler
Founder and Chairman

 

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