Moldovan winemaker Purcari’s Freedom Blend was created in 2011 to commemorate Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine’s 20 years of independence from the Soviet Union. But it took on another meaning when Russian tanks rolled into Crimea last year.
Purcari’s creation is a blend of wines from all three countries. However, in Moldova’s capital Chisinau, wine enthusiasts joke that instead it represents lands partially invaded by Russia, including not just Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula but the occupied territories of South Ossetia in Georgia and Moldova’s own disputed Transnistria region.
In recent centuries Moldova’s wine industry has relied heavily on custom from its eastern neighbours, none more so than Russia. But that is now starting to change. Strained by geopolitics and hurt by periodic import bans imposed by Moscow in retaliation for Moldova’s friendship with the EU, the country’s vineyards are turning west for investment and new export markets, keen to project themselves as a modern region with a rich history.
“There is a regional crisis and these traditional markets do not work for us any longer,” says Dumitru Munteanu, director of the National Office for Vine and Wine, the industry’s lobby group. “Our strategy is to be less dependent on eastern markets. We are trying to reorientate our exports to find more opportunity and more reliable partners.”
In 2004, 90 per cent of Moldova’s wine exports went to other parts of the former Soviet Union, with almost 40 per cent going to Russia. Last year 68 per cent of the 67m bottles of wine exported from Moldova, worth $156m, went east. The industry’s aim, Mr Munteanu says, is to reduce that to 33 per cent before the end of the decade.
“Until 2006, major investments that came to the wine sector were Russian. But then the first Russian ban was imposed and since then more and more interest has come from Germany, the US and the west,” Mr Munteanu says. “Many growers understand that without a reliable partner outside the country, it is very hard to access markets.”
Wedged between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova’s geography plays an integral part in an industry that produces 15m decalitres of wine each year, according to Wine of Moldova, a government trade promotion body.
Rolling hills abound, with the slopes of valleys accounting for almost 60 per cent of the country’s surface area. A long summer also helps: Moldova’s latitude matches that of Bordeaux and Burgundy. The Moldovans say that they have wine in their blood. “For us, it is . . . a key element of our national identity,” says Victor Bostan, chief executive at Purcari Winery. Purcari sells 65 per cent of its wine in the EU, thanks to strong growth in countries such as Romania and Poland.
Like many regions looking to expand in the crowded European market, Moldovan growers started in the value segment, aiming to ape the rise of Chilean and Australian wines. Today brands such as Purcari want to position themselves as an exotic option for drinkers keen to explore undiscovered wines.
Investors are taking note. The past seven years have seen 30,000 hectares of vine plantations in the country, says Wine of Moldova, with €330m of investments in land, production equipment and technology over the past decade.
A European Investment Bank programme provides up to 50 per cent of financing for investments in the country’s agricultural sector, with a focus on attracting business keen to export to the EU. A Moldovan government subsidy fund provides a list of financial incentives to invest in the industry. Mr Munteanu says investors as far away as China, South Korea and Nigeria are taking an interest in his country.
( ) Read all
Two weeks ago, an emergency decree that would have decriminalized several graft offences enraged people, who took to the streets. Thousands of Romanians in over 70 cities began to #resist for an idea. A new generation spoke up. Digi24 is streaming, today at 21:00, the first documentary about the...( ) Read all
As Moldova recently celebrated its 25th anniversary of Independence, TIMPUL sat down with Prime Minister Pavel Filip to discuss how our country has fared over the past quarter-century. About Moldova’s ups and downs, about plans and prospects, and also about national pride – it’s...( ) Read all
Your Excellency, The interview of your colleague, the Extraordinary and Fully Empowered Ambassador of the United States in America in the Republic of Moldova, His Excellency, Mr. James Pettit, granted to the State television network in Chișinău on August 28, 2016, in which he referred to a...( ) Read all
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the declaration of Moldova’s Independence, IPN News Agency decided to depict the portrait of the current Republic of Moldova. For the purpose, we challenged a number of people, including state officials, politicians, businessmen, civil rights...( ) Read all
An interview with Dainius Žalimas, President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania centres on one of the recent judgments of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova, which has generated much attention and debate and was handed down for the first time to declare the...( ) Read all
People attend a rally in front of the Parliament building in Chisinau, Moldova, Jan. 24, 2016. Some 40,000 opposition demonstrators took to the streets of the capital calling for early elections amid a political crisis.( ) Read all
The dialogue announced by Head of Parliament Andrian Candu with representatives of protesters for January 25 didn’t take place. The Parliament’s press service didn’t provide information about the holding of a meeting, while protesters’ leaders said they haven’t been...( ) Read all
More than 200 women die from cervical cancer in Moldova yearly. Veronica Ciobanu, gynecologist of the Oncological Institute, has told IPN that cervical cancer affects mainly women aged between 35 and 60. The population is to be informed about the prophylaxis and early detection of this disease...( ) Read all
The fire that happened at the shopping center located on Ismail St in Chisinau on January 23 started because the anti-fire rules when using the smoke and fire ventilation system were violated, deputy head of the Chisinau Emergencies Division Liviu Merzancu said in the ordinary meeting of...( ) Read all
The first woman to be Romania’s prosecutor general, Laura Codruţa Kövesi, was only 33 when appointed in 2006. Seven years later, she marked another milestone when she was named the head of the Romanian Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), an institution created to fight high-level...( ) Read all
The representatives of the PDM, PL and PPEM decided to form a working group that will draft the agreement of the future government coalition.( ) Read all
After the war broke out in Eastern Ukraine, many observers in Europe held the EU at least partly responsible. Political realists in the West, led by Henri Kissinger and John Mearsheimer, have put at least a part of the blame for Russia`s belligerence on the West.( ) Read all
Former Moldovan prime minister Vlad Filat was arrested on Thursday after he was implicated in the theft of $1 billion (647.02 million pound) from the banking system that has led thousands to camp out in the capital in protest.( ) Read all
When the French engineers and inventors Paul de Faget de Casteljau and Pierre Étienne Bézier came up with the idea of Bézier curves in the middle of the last century — they hardly thought about the fact that in the XXI century — the age of the ideal curves,...( ) Read all
The five countries investigating the downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine a year ago are considering setting up an independent international tribunal after Russia vetoed attempts to establish a U.N.-backed court to prosecute suspects.( ) Read all
Participants in the action in Baghramyan Avenue have only one demand – President Serzh Sargsyan must revoke the decision of the Public Services Regulatory Commission raising electricity tariffs from August 1.( ) Read all
Russia is reportedly planning to build a gas pipeline to Germany. Gazprom announced on Thursday that it plans to build a pipeline with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea with E.ON, Shell, and OMV, according to Kommersant.( ) Read all
It's a mystery that's thrown Europe's poorest nation into deep crisis - $1bn has vanished from three of Moldova's leading banks, much of it passing through UK companies. A confidential report has blamed 28-year-old businessman, Ilan Shor, but in an exclusive BBC interview he proclaims his innocence.( ) Read all
Pro-Russian separatist leaders in the contested regions of Donetsk and Luhansk are now prepared to remain part of Ukraine under a specially recognized status, according to Ukrainian media, a move which has full support from Russian President Vladimir Putin.( ) Read all
It is understandable that in recent months the still-unresolved crisis in Ukraine and renewed Cold War with Russia have commanded the attention of most western watchers of events in the former Soviet Union.( ) Read all
The recent Russian intervention in Ukraine has generated much debate about the use and effectiveness of hybrid warfare, a type of warfare widely understood to blend conventional/unconventional, regular/irregular, and information and cyber warfare.( ) Read all