Along with the diversified varieties and push towards expanded markets, Moldova has been implementing new laws and regulations to modernize its wine sector. With a push to meeting European Union standards from technical documentation to wine production, including upgrades in infrastructure and grape cultivation techniques. Moldova has targeted productivity as well, with efforts to streamline business process and incorporate modern equipment and technology into the production cycle. With assistance from USAID, Moldova has taking advantage of international expert consultants in selected industries to improve the business sophistication its companies and help Moldovan companies adapt to regional markets.
Despite recent progress, Moldova remains one of the poorest countries in Europe, heavily dependent upon its agriculture sector, featuring fruits, vegetables, wine, and tobacco. Therefore, expanding its market for its agricultural products, including wine, is a key focus of the Moldovan government. Moldova wineries participate extensively in international exhibitions and conferences, reaching out to new markets beyond their existing primary markets of CIS, Russia, Baltic States, Ukraine, Romania, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Poland, and Germany.
The Future of the Moldovan Wine Industry
Moldova continues to work towards expanding its export market for wine as well as the wines that are available for export. Moldova exports a wide range of wines from red, sweet, semi-sweet to dry, semi-dry, and special wines (14% to 20% alcohol), to sparkling wines, wine based spirit drinks (Also known as divins, such as Aroma, Cezar, Orfeu, Nistru, Stefan Voda, Victoria - to name a few), brandy, vermouth (e.g., Buchetul Moldovei, Romanita and Toamna), Heres (similar to Sherry), and Balsamic wines (e.g., Stejar, Legenda Haiducului, and Amar-Amar).
Moldova Wine: A History and a Future
1. The National Office for Vine and Wine is a public institution established by the Law on Vine and Wine to implement the government policies in the field of viticulture. www.wineofmoldova.com.
2. Chisinau, T.J., "The Economist explains Why has Russia banned Moldovan wine?", The Economist, 2013 Nov 25.
3. Chisinau, T.J., "The Economist explains Why has Russia banned Moldovan wine?", The Economist, 2013 Nov 25.
4. Global Trade Atlas.
5. Chisinau, T.J., "The Economist explains Why has Russia banned Moldovan wine?", The Economist, 2013 Nov 25.
The Republic of Moldova is located in south eastern Europe sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania. A landlocked country with a mild climate, Moldova has agricultural land particularly suited to grape cultivation. Similar to the wine growing regions of Italy and the French regions of Bordeaux and Bourgogne, Moldova's grape cultivation primarily takes place at latitudes of 46-47 degrees. A majority of the grape varieties are from Europe with approximately 10% made up of Caucasian and indigenous varieties. White grape varieties include Aligote, Muscat (blanc, Ottonel), Pinot (blanc, gris), Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Feteasca (Leanca), Traminer (blanc, rose), Riesling, and Silvaner. Red grape varieties include Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot-Noir and Malbec
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According to the National Office of Wine and Vine for Moldova, an estimated 112 thousand hectares planted with Vitis Vinifera, of which 70 % are white varieties (Rkatsiteli, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Aligote, etc.) and 30% are red varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Saperavi, etc.). Aromatic varieties account for 36 % of the vineyards. The authenticity and uniqueness of Moldovan wines is represented by the indigenous varieties, which account for 10% of the vineyards: Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, Plavai, Viorica, etcThere are four viticulture regions: Southern, South-Eastern, Central and North Investment. Among the most famous wineries in Moldova are Cricova, Ialoveni, Romanesti, Milestii Mici, Nisporeni, Ciumai, Purcari, Cimislia, Comrat, Trifesti, Dubasari, Taraclia, Hincesti, and Cazaiac. Moldova has a storage a capacity of over one million hectoliters at three underground facilities for storing and maturing high-quality wines at Cricova, Milestii-Mici, and Branesti.1
Moldovan Wine Industry History
Grape cultivation and wine production have been a significant part of Moldova's history and exports for at least 5,000 years. By 2006, the wine industry was estimated to account for somewhere near 25 percent of Moldova's gross domestic product (GDP). Up through 2005, Russia represented a major export market for Moldovan wine. However, in 2006, Russian actions led Moldovan down a road toward modernization and diversification of export markets.
Moldova has seen repeated import bans from Russia of its wines. From 2006 to 2007, Russia placed an import ban on Moldovan wines, claiming that they represented a health risk due to their finding hazardous substances in the wine. At the time, Russia accounted for 60% of Moldova's wine exports.2 The Moldova-Vin export agency estimated the loss in sales for the wine industry at over US$180 million from 2006 to 2007 as well as a 63% decline in production to approximately 8.96 dekaliters of bottled wine.3
Moldova responded with a series of laws and regulations meant to implement new programs of standards and controls. For example, a certification stamp required for export ties to a database allowing inspectors and consumers to find the history of their wine through an online database and wine labeling has been codified. Moldova also moved to diversity its export market for wine.
In 2013, Russia once again placed a ban on Moldovan wines, again claiming contaminants. However, by 2013, the Russian market for Moldovan wine, while still important, had decreased significantly. While Moldovan exports of wine to EU member states from 2012 through 2014 had increased from 16 million liters to 21 million liters, representing an increase of US $21 million to US$30 million in sales.4 Moldova's exports to Russia only accounted for 10% of all the wine consumption in Russia at the time of Russia's ban.5 The ban reduced Moldovan exports to Russia by approximately US$150 million annually, which represents 25% of exports to Russia and around 6–7% of total Moldovan exports.
Despite the struggles with Moldova's exports to Russia, wine making accounts for a significant portion of the Moldovan economy: approximately 18-20% of GDP and 27% of the country's labor force, and serving as a major area for foreign investment.6 Moldovan viticulture extends to more than 151,000 fertile hectares with most vineyards (96.5%) being privately owned. A total of 174 enterprises, most of them limited partnerships, process grapes, with wineries processing about one million tons each season, and producing up to 13.8 million hl of wine.7