Moldova – the land of wines and beautiful landscapes

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Moldova – the Land of Wine and Romance

Clay Gilliland

Rich in history and fertile soils that produce lush vineyards, Moldova is an excellent vacation destination away from the beaten tourist trails. In this post-Soviet country, you can walk around beautiful monasteries, taste fine wines, and hike through ancient forests.

Although Moldova remains one of the poorest countries in Europe, the locals are very friendly and welcoming, and the main centers such as the capital Chisinau will delight you with its sights. And when traveling through the countryside, it is worth visiting the remote but charming authentic Moldovan villages to see how rural Moldovans live.

Walking in Chisinau

Chisinau is a welcoming city full of old historic buildings, parks and green squares. Many of its cathedrals, monuments and museums survived serious bombing in World War II, but some have risen from the ashes. In addition to a large number of art galleries, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, spas and casinos, be sure to visit the Eternity Memorial Complex, built in memory of the soldiers who died fighting for the liberation of Moldova and Chisinau from the Nazi invaders during World War II. Wander through Stefan the Great Park, where Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin liked to rest when he was in exile in Chisinau. Admire the interior decoration of the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ, which was built in the XIX century, but suffered several times from the Nazi and Communist “hands”. Near the cathedral is the Arc de Triomphe, in whose shadow you can relax. And be sure to go to the monastery of St. Theodore Tyrone (Chuflinsky monastery), it is striking for its internal and especially external beauty. The entire structure and even the domes are painted in a marvelous color of heaven. And finally, look at the Alley of Artists, in order to admire the talents of local painters and sculptors.

For a glimpse into Moldova’s past, visit the National Museum of Moldovan History and the National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History. Besides, it is impossible to pass by the house-museum of A.S. Pushkin, where the poet spent his exile days and wrote some of his most famous works: “Prisoner”, “To Ovid”, “The Prisoner of the Caucasus”, “The Fountain of Bakhchisarai”. In Moldova, “Eugene Onegin” also began.

There are many things reminiscent of the Soviet past in Chisinau, but the most interesting are the newspaper stands, which once were full of all the cities of the USSR and which are still operating in the streets of Chisinau today.

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Rural Moldova

Moldavia enchants with its landscapes and serene atmosphere. Here you can go explore the cave monasteries, sit on the river bank listening to the silence, or visit the local villages.

For example, the small village of Saharna, about 110 kilometers from Chisinau, is known for its wonderful Holy Trinity Monastery. However, it is not only pilgrims who are attracted to the village. As a place of breathtaking scenery, the village is loved by everyone, and especially by nature lovers. The region is famous for its beautiful waterfalls, the Saharna River, for example, has as many as 22 waterfalls. One of the most beautiful is near the monastery, and falls from a height of 4 meters, forming a deep pit, which the locals call “Groapa Ciganului” (Grave of a Gypsy). There are also many other waterfalls, and each one is interesting in its own way. After visiting Saharna, you will definitely want to come back here again.

Another “pearl” of the natural expanses of Moldova is Old Orhei. It is a cultural, historical and archeological complex, situated 10 km from Orhei. It is situated in a valley of the river Reut, on a background of untouched natural landscapes and huge limestone ledges. There are several monuments and buildings from various historical periods, from the 10th century B.C. to the reign of the Golden Horde in the 14th century A.D. The local ancient fortresses and early Christian monasteries are some of the most unusual sights in all of Eastern Europe. The local museum provides additional information and artifacts. And Old Orhei is also famous for its monasteries carved in massive cliffs, which attract tourists from all over the world.

Not far from the complex you can visit the village of Ivancha. It is situated in the heart of Codri forest reserve, surrounded with seven lakes. The village is inhabited by the Ukrainians who settled there in the Middle Ages. The locals still speak Ukrainian. In the 19th century Ivancha was the property of Armenian boyar Karp Balioz, who built here a manor and a large park. Now the farmstead is home to a museum of folk arts and crafts.

Vine Moldova

The cultivation of grapes and winemaking on the territory of modern Moldavia began 4-5 thousand years ago, when the ancient people of Dacia learned to make wine. Then the Greek settlers, who by the end of the III century BC had arrived on the Black Sea coast with their winemaking traditions and shared them with the locals, breathed new life into the Moldavian wine-making art. During the reign and prosperity of the Roman Empire in the area around 100 AD the wine business acquired new colors and became even richer.

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Today Moldova has 112 thousand hectares of vineyards planted with more than 30 kinds of technical varieties. Grape plantations are divided into four historic wine regions: Codru (center), Balti (north), Valul-lui-Traian (southwest), Stefan Voda (southeast). The latter produces the red dry wine Negru de Purkar, which is supplied to the table of the Queen of Great Britain.

The underground wineries of Malé Mileshti and Cricova are known throughout the region. They are the largest in the world and are even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. They are the whole underground wine towns with their own infrastructure, roads, traffic signs, traffic lights, wine rivers flowing through the wine pipes, on the banks of which there are huge barrels instead of houses.

Features of cuisine

Moldova is located in a region of abundant natural resources in the form of a variety of vegetables, fruits, grapes, and livestock farms, which determines the richness of the national cuisine.

Be sure to try the small sausages of beef or lamb meat mititae and steeply boiled corn porridge mamaliga, often served with brynza or tocana – pork stew with vegetables. In addition, the traditional Moldovan table is unthinkable without the sarmale stuffed with cabbage or grape leaves, and without the flat pies platsinda, made both with sweet stuffing and with cabbage, feta, potatoes or pumpkin. Also in Moldova they love mamu, the hot chicken soup with vegetables and noodles, seasoned with sour bran kvass, which makes the dish especially good the next day after a big feast.

And, of course, the wine in Moldova literally flows like a river. People here drink it not only in the evening but all day long. In addition, the country produces not bad cognacs.

What else is worth visiting in Moldova?

  • The gypsy capital of Soroca, with its medieval fortress and a monument “Candle of Thanksgiving
  • The unrecognized state of Transnistria
  • Rock monastery near the village of Tsypovo
  • Delightful Monastery in the village of Kurki
  • Another Medieval fortress in Bender
  • The cave “Emil Rakovitsa” near the village of Kriva
  • Amazingly beautiful place “The Hundred Hills” near the Prut River
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What is a must to do in Moldova?

  • Try all kinds of Moldavian wines at the local wineries
  • Enjoy the silence of nature
  • Learn to cook mamaliga
  • Take part in the National Wine Day celebrations.
  • Drink water from one of the many springs
  • Make a fortune with a local gypsy.

Moldavia doesn’t have a lot of architectural delights, and you’re unlikely to find any attractions that will excite your senses. But this small country will meet you with delicious wine, sun-kissed fruit and gypsy romance. Such a reception is sure to leave a warm trace in your heart.

(Photo) Wine tour of Moldova: 15 wineries worth visiting

Moldovan wineries are widely known outside the country, but how often do Moldovans themselves prefer to visit such places? We have selected fifteen local wineries where you can not only taste wine but also taste the national cuisine, listen to good music, learn more about wine production in Moldova and even stay overnight.

Cricova

Address: Cricova, 1 Petru Ungureanu St.

Cricova Winery is located in the central region of Moldova. Here at the depth of 60 meters the wines, the quality of which is recognized all over the world, are kept. And the one who has visited the endless Cricova Cellars stays its prisoner forever, year after year striving to return here to admire the fairytale beauty of the man-made underground kingdom.

Château Vartely

Address: Orhei, 170/B Eliberari street.

The name Vartely comes from the name of the city of Orhei, which in Hungarian means “place of the fortress”, (vár + hely or fortress + place). The Château Vartely brand was developed and launched in 2004. Its slogan is “Wine with love for you”.

The quality of Château Vartely wines is marked by medals and awards received at the most famous international competitions: Mondial de Bruxelles, Mundus Vini, Vinalies Internationales, Decanter, International Wine & Spirits Competition, Sakura, Citta del Vino, International Wine Challenge and many others.

Et cetera

Address: Stefan Voda district, Crokmaz village

Et Cetera is a family winery. Vineyard area: 24.2 ha. White grape varieties: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier; red grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Frank, Feteasca Neagra, Saperavi, Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Marselan, Albarosa.

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Asconi

Address: Ialoveni District, Puhoi Village

The winery has an impressive wine collection: 60,000 bottles, 40,000 of which date back to the 1990s and the rest to later years. Their wines are based on grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat.

Milestii Mici

Address: Ialoveni district, Milestii Mici municipality

The Little Milestii Mici winery has become a legend thanks to its impressive collection of 1,500,000 bottles. It is the biggest wine collection in the world and was mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records in 2005. With their exceptional character and style, the Mileshti wines are recognized and loved far beyond Moldova.

Castel Mimi

Address: Bulboaca Village, Novoaneni District

Castel Mimi is the only castle in Moldova and is recognized as one of the most beautiful wineries in the world. It was built in 1893, by Constantin Mimi, and has since gone through many evolutions, the most important of which occurred in 2015, when the world-renowned architect Arnaldo Tranti transformed our castle into an incredible tourist complex.

Vinăria Poiana

Address: Ulmu village, Ialoveni district

Vinăria Poiana is a modern winery, located 30 km from Chisinau, in Ulmu village. The main feature of the winery is its location in a surprisingly beautiful place, surrounded by the centuries-old forest of Codra. The grapes here are particularly sweet and healthy.

Purcari

Address: Purcari village, Stefan Voda district

For a long time, the wines of Purcari were as popular as the wines of Bordeaux or Burgundy. The wine was supplied to Emperor Nicholas II, as well as to King George V and Queen Victoria of Great Britain.

Now the Château Purcari winery has 250 hectares of vineyards. Located in the countryside between the Dniester River and the Black Sea, among green hills, the winery offers fishing, boating, a tour of the wine cellar, established back in 1827!

KaraGani

Address: Vulcanesti, 31 Krupskaya str.

KaraGani is a family winery with a national character, which is engaged in growing grapes and making wine. Their vineyards are located in the southernmost part of the Republic of Moldova, in the town of Vulcanesti. The history of the winery began in 2006, but the traditions of the Cerven family are more than 150 years old.

Crama Mircești

Address: Mircești village, Ungheni district

Crama Mircești is located in the Ungheni district. Although the winery has only been in existence for a few years, it has become an emblem of small wineries in Moldova due to its modern approach to wine production. Recently, Mirchesti winery has been equipped with a station for collecting meteorological data, and the employees are using modern strategies for pruning the vines and checking them for diseases by means of a drone.

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Gogu Winery

Address : Peace street, Kaushany

This home winery situated in Kaushany was established in 2004 with the use of amateur equipment and the desire to create high quality wines which would highlight the peculiarities of the local terroir.

Although most producers of the region traditionally focus on red varieties of grapes, which allows for an intense flavor and special aromatics in wines, Gogu Winery decided to focus more on white wines.

Vinăria din Vale

Address: Cantemir, Basarabia str.

For over 20 years the winery has been a family business. It produces several varieties of wines which are highly valued internationally: Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rosé, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Saperavi, Riesling, Muscat Ottonel, Rkatsiteli, and also wines from the highest quality local grape varieties: Fetsäska Alba and Fetsäska Nägre.

Gitana

Address : Plop village, Kantemir region

The wines of Gitana are complex and delicate, created in a special style which managed to embrace in its essence the specificity and character of the area where they come from – Trajan’s Wall. The Gitana vineyards are located in the area of two villages of Leova District and are divided into three zones. One zone is located in the village of Filipeni, and another two in the village of Romanovka.

Vinuri De Comrat

Address: Comrat, Vinzavodskaya str.

In 1995 as a result of privatization, the Comrat factory was transformed into “Vinuri De Comrat”. Today this modern production company bottles over 3 million bottles a year. The products are delivered to more than 20 countries of the world. The company produces more than 50 series of wines, both varietal and blended.

Fautor

Address: Tigeci village, Leova district

Fautor is the result of the work of one family, which managed to transform the former Soviet production into a modern facility with new equipment. From 2003 to 2006 new technologies were used and new vineyards were planted. The vineyards of the winery now occupy about 350 hectares. They are located in the microzone of Tigheci, part of the Valul lui Traian wine-growing area from the south of Moldova.

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