In March, Sarah visited Moldova to explore the potential of their burgeoning wine culture.  

Still the poorest country in Europe, Moldova’s wine industry is movingly important to them. It’s a fascinating country – highly agricultural with undulating acres of cereals, vegetables and vines; and a climate which is perfect for viticulture.  

The Moldova Competitiveness Project 

The industry in Moldova is still developing a formalised structure, including export channels, but it’s three recently designated PGI regions of Valul Lui Trajan, Stefan Voda and Codru are stimulating industry focus on high quality bottled wine with a sense of place, increasingly made from indigenous grape varieties.  

In one of best examples of independent development wine projects in Europe, the Moldova Competitiveness Project is supported by foreign aid, with the active contribution of Moldovan wine producers

One key initiative is to promote research into indigenous grapes with the most potential: Feteasca Neagra and Feateasca Rara (red) and Feateasca Alba (white). (For many years, the viticultural focus in Moldova was on decent, reliably ripe renditions of international varieties destined for bulk wine exports.) 

Defining Moldovan typicity

The project is led by Elizaveta Brehana of the ONVV, whose aim is to define Moldovan typicity. To this end, Elizaveta carries out minimal-intervention microvinifications from indigenous grapes in the three different PGIs, ensuring they’re all vinified exactly the same so that the nuances of grape and soil can emerge.  

These are supple, seductive, fruity wines which have a delicacy and allure which is far removed from the quotidian easy-going but indistinctive varieties which dominate production.

The ONVV shares the results of their research with producers, ensuring more and more of them now plant these and other indigenous varieties.