Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova – Best Wineries in Moldova You Should Visit

By Kach Umandap - Howe March 15th, 2021 Posted in Europe Travel Blog, Travel Blog, Travel Guides No comments

A winery tour experience in Moldova is one of the best things to do in this beautiful and most underrated country! Let us share with you our personal experience first hand.

Our Winery Tour Experience4

A very young European country, Moldova is usually overlooked by tourists. Although the country is considered one of the poorest in Europe, it is actually a small charming country that everyone should explore. Welcoming around only a hundred thousand visitors per year, Moldova is the ideal place to visit if you don’t want to find yourself in a very touristy destination.

Aside from that, there are other plenty of reasons why you should visit this country. As for now, we will tell you about our winery tour experience in Moldova with Winetours Moldova.

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

About Moldova and What it is Known For

Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe that used to be part of the USSR. It is bordered by Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east, and south of the disputed territory of Transnistria. It is well known in the region as one of the best wine-producing countries in the East European region and beyond. Their wineries win awards every year in global competitions and the country holds some of the largest wine collections in the world, even being recorded in the Guinness World Records. 

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

On our visit, we visited 5 of the top wineries in the country and we will still only be scratching the surface of what Moldova has to offer. 

The Best Wineries in Moldova that You Should Visit

A small country but is big when it comes to the wine world. Below is a list of the best wineries in Moldova that you should visit.

1. Asconi Winery

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

A place with a wonderful atmosphere. Asconi Winery is a large well-groomed area with a beautiful landscape, production workshops, a restaurant, guest houses, and a wine tasting room. The restaurant offers dishes of Moldavian and Balkan cuisine. And one of the terraces offers a beautiful view of the vineyards. At Asconi Winery, they kept the local traditional styling while using the best available modern technologies. This is the place where you can try some of the best wines in Moldova, along with authentic regional food in an atmosphere.

We were given a tour of the property, the winery, and the fermentation facilities with one of the owners, Mika, before being given the chance to learn to make the traditional local Placinta pastry! In the evening we enjoyed a paired wine tasting with Diana, a winery guide and certified wine technologist. We learned a lot more than we ever have before about tasting wine with food and the atmosphere was perfect!

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

Best Asconi Wines You Should Try:

  • Riesling
  • Pinot Noir
  • Malbec

European Varieties:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay
  • Merlot
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Muscat

Moldovan Local Varieties:

  • Feteasca Neagra
  • Feteasca Alba

In addition, you can also try their own Ice-wine which is made from frozen grapes.

2. Chateau Vartely

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

Another luxury award-winning winery in Moldova. Chateau Vartely has been operating since 2004. But in 2008, they opened a tourist complex which is just 45 km from Chisinau. This complex has its own unique architecture and three accommodation buildings in the style of the local traditional architecture of the three main regions of the country. We visited Chateau Vartely for an excellent brunch buffet followed by a tour of the winery and cellars.

Best Vartely Wines You Should Try:

  • Feteasca Regala
  • Taraboste
  • Individo (Rara Neagra, Malbec, Syrah)
  • Chateau Vartely Brut Sparkling White
  • Taraboste Tribut

3. Chateau Purcari

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

Chateau Purcari is located around 100 km from Chisinau. Today, it has one of the most reputable exports of wine among all Moldovan wine companies. For this reason, it has entered more than 25 markets around the world. It is also popular in countries like the Czech Republic, the UK, China, the US, Canada, Poland, Norway, and the Baltic countries.

When we arrived at Chateau Purcari we began our wine experience with a glass of sparkling wine and some snacks before we started the tour of the winery itself. We drove around the expansive vineyards, which stretch for kilometres in every direction! 

After a tour of the winemaking operation and the cellars, with a combination of traditional oak barrels and giant clay fermentation vessels, we met back in the restaurant for a taster session of their incredible fine dining menu.

Best Chateau Purcari Wines You Should Try:

  • Ice-wine
  • Chardonnay de Purcari (Dry white wine)
  • Nocturne, Cabernet Sauvignon (Red dry wine)
  • Nocturne, Pinot Grigio (Dry white wine)
  • Nocturne, Rose (Dry Rose wine)
  • Viorica de Purcari (Viorica wine)
  • Alb de Purcari

4. Milestii Mici

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

If you want to have a high-quality Moldovan wine in a truly unique atmosphere, Milestii Mici is the place to be.  This is also the place where you can visit a huge underground cellar, full of wine, bottles, and an atmosphere saturated with wine romance. Here, you can find the Golden Wine Collection at the depth of 80 meters below the ground. There are millions of bottles that are kept here, the oldest one dates back to 1969, which earned Milestii Mici a place in the Guinness record books as the largest wine collection in the world! Miljesti Mici is located in a former underground limestone quarry, where man-made tunnels stretch for miles under the surface.

Best Milestic Mici Wines You Should Try:

  • Pinot
  • Muscat
  • Dnestrovscoie
  • Milestscoie
  • Traminer
  • Auriu
  • Riesling
  • Feteasca

5. Branesti Winery / Cellars

Branesti Winery or Branesti Cellars is located near Old Orhei in the Branesti village. They have a total of 800 hectares of their own vineyards around the forested slopes of Orheiul Vechi, and also nearby the villages of Romaneşti and Tudora.

During our visit, we were invited to the Epoca Piatra restaurant for mulled wine and local Placinta pastries.

Best Branesti Wines You Should Try:

  • Madeira
  • Marsala
  • Pastoral
  • Aligote
  • Sauvignon

6. Cricova Winery

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit
Photo by David Stanley CC BY 2.0

Cricova is one of the most popularly known tourism destinations and amazing wine heritage collection in Moldova. It also holds the second-largest cellar in the world. The moment you descend into the underground world of wines, you will be stunned by the variety of wine collections. The oldest bottle you can find here is the “European Easter”. a red dessert wine from Jerusalem, dated 1902.

Best Wine You Should Try:

  • Champagne Avenue
  • Cabernet Street
  • Feteasca
  • Aligote
  • Sauvignon
  • Riesling
  • Codru

7. Castel Mimi Winery

 

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A post shared by Ovidiu Salavastru (@ovidius.frame)

Castel Mimi is another important winery you should visit in Moldova. Aside from its stunning architecture, the winery also has a collective memory of its wine that visitors can see through its wine tour. The tour features photographs of the winery’s resilience through different empires such as Romanian, Russian, and Soviet Rule.

Best Wine You Should Try:

  • Muscat
  • Rkatsiteli
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Gris
  • Malbec
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pinot Noir
  • Traminer
  • Whites

Blends:

  • Sfaditele
  • Isteria
  • Rosu de Bulboaca

8. Chateau Cojusna

 

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A post shared by Chateau Cojusna (@chateaucojusna)

Chateau Cojusna is best known for its dessert wines. They make wine from their grapes that grow through their 600 hectares of vines. Chateau Cojusna is also one of the largest privately-owned wineries in Moldova. It’s very easy to go here as it’s just a 20-minute drive from Chisinau.

Best Wine You Should Try:

  • Sauvignon blanc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Muscat
  • Pinot noir
  • Merlot

9. Et Cetera

Et Cetera is a family-owned winery located southeast of Chisinau. It has its own airstrip and visitors can fly from Chisinau to Et Cetera via the winery’s private, four-person plane. Once here, have a taste of their very popular rosé, and check-in in one of their lovely rooms. You can also take a bike tour of the vineyards.

Best Wine You Should Try:

  • Spumante
  • Cuvee Blanc
  • Cuvee Rouge
  • Carmenere
  • Aeroplane Cuvee Rouge
  • Aeroplane Affinite

10. KaraGani

 

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A post shared by KaraGani Winery (@karagani_winery)

KaraGani is located in Southern Moldova. They offer both traditional vintages and a glimpse of the history and culture of the Gagauz people. The Gagauz people are a small Turkic ethnic group of Eastern Orthodox Christians. They have their own language, Gargauz, which is on the UNESCO list of endangered languages.

Best Wine You Should Try:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Aligote
  • Muscat Ottonel
  • Traminer

Overall Moldavian Wine You Should Try

Red:

  • Taraboste Red
  • Chateau Vartely Illustro and Negre
  • Fautor Winery 5 Elemente, Equinox Winery
  • Equinox Winery

White:

  • Chardonnay
  • Chateau Cristi
  • Taraboste Alb
  • Chateau Vartely

Sparkling:

  • Cricova Cuvee Prestige
  • Cricova Blanc de Noir
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Our Winery Tour Experience with Winetours Moldova (and WINEBUS.md)

Upon arrival in Moldova, we practiced precautions, and our trip was privately arranged through Winetours Moldova. We’ll share with you our memorable winery tour experience below.

Day 1 – Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova

After arriving in Moldova the night before and taking a taxi from the airport to the hotel, we started our first day with breakfast in a beautiful cafe in the center of old Chisinau. Then we met our guides for a walking tour of the city, exploring how the new and old parts of the city had blended together and changed over the centuries. 

How to Apply for Moldova EVisa for Filipinos and Other Nationalities

The variety of architecture here is striking, from the pre-war Russian Empire to then communist Brutalism and today’s modern buildings and renovations mixed into it all. 

One thing that really struck us is the amount of public space, parks, and gardens, and pedestrianized cobbled streets. This is a city that cares about people and is designed with them at the center. 

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

After our city tour, we visited our first winery, Miljesti Mici, which is located in a former underground limestone quarry. We entered the old quarry through an opening on the side of the mountain and soon started to see old wooden barrels and steel casks lining the tunnel walls. 

Miljesti Mici WineryAt the deepest, we reached 65 meters below the surface, where some of the oldest wines are stored at a steady temperature and humidity.

We ended the tour with a tasting of 5 wines and a four-course lunch in front of a roaring open fireplace. Actually, we ended the tour with 6 bottles from the wine shop!

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

From Miljesti Mici it was only a 30-minute drive to our next destination and accommodation for the night, Asconi Winery.

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

When we arrived we were welcomed by Diana, a winery tour guide and certified Wine Technologist. Moldova has its own school of professional winemaking where she studied to become a winemaker.

After an hour to settle into our traditionally constructed thatched-roof cottage, we met for a tour of the winery with Diana and Mika, one of the family owners of the winery. 

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

In contrast to the traditional style of the restaurants and hotel cottages, the winery uses all of the latest Italian equipment and machinery to produce the best wine possible, as naturally as possible. There are several restaurant spaces that can accommodate up to 800 people at once, yet every space feels homely and personal. 

Before our dinner, we were given a class in making “Placinta”, a type baked crispy pastry filled with fresh cottage cheese, which is then cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven. Our dinner was a 6-course wine pairing where we experienced the best Asconi wines, matched perfectly to traditional Moldovan cuisine like cottage cheese with sour creme, “Placinta”, homemade dumplings, grilled pork sausage, lamb stew, and sour cherry dumplings. We even tried their unique Cabernet Sauvignon Ice Wine!

Asconi Winery Tour

The whole meal was an incredible way to experience the real Moldovan food and wine culture! 

In the morning, after sleeping incredibly well, Jonny served us a delicious breakfast with fresh coffee and local meats and cheeses. 

Day 2 – Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova

On our second day, we had a great breakfast in one of the warm and homely Asconi restaurants before we headed out for our next destination, Butuceni Village. 

10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Moldova and Some Fun Facts

Here we stopped at a viewpoint so that we could see the Orheiul Complex, where an ancient monastery and many caves have been carved out of the cliff faces by monks who were hiding from persecution.

After visiting the underground monastery we drove to the Epoca Piatra restaurant for mulled wine and local “Placinta” pastries. This incredible underground restaurant is located in an abandoned limestone mine, with amazing open fireplaces that have to reach many meters up to the surface. This all creates a unique atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else! 

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

The owners even showed us around the next phase of their underground plans – an underground “stone age” hotel. We can’t wait to see it when it’s ready! 

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

From there we drove up to Chateau Vartely where we checked into our home for the night, the top floor of a traditional style Moldovan house from the central region of Moldova. After an excellent brunch buffet, we had a tour of the winery and cellars. This really is top-quality winemaking on a grand scale! The stainless steel fermenters tower above in all directions! 

The cellar is always our favorite part of a winery tour, with rows of oak barrels lining every wall. 

At the end of the tour, we moved into one of the tasting rooms for an educational wine tasting session.

But before we could get started, Jonathan had the chance to learn the “Sabrage” technique of opening a bottle of sparkling wine, where a bottle of sparkling wine is opened with a sword! 

We are not experts in wine by any stretch of the imagination, so it was really interesting to learn more about wine tasting, winemaking, and the types of characteristics that make up a real quality wine. 

Day 3 – Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova

Our Purcari Winery Tour and Food Experience in Moldova

On the final day of our Moldova wine tours experience, we were picked up from our hotel by Nicolay of Chateau Purcari Winery, located in Ștefan-Vodă about two hours outside of Chișinău. While it was a long drive, there was plenty to look at along the way and it was obvious how beautiful the views would be in the summer when all the trees and fields are green again. 

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

When we arrived at Chateau Purcari we met our winery tour guide, Cornel, who joined us in a glass of sparkling wine and some snacks before we started the tour. We started with a drive around the expansive vineyards themselves, which stretch as far as you see in every direction! 

From a viewing platform on the hillside, we could see all the way to neighboring Transnistria.

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

From there we saw the whole winemaking operation and the cellars, where a combination of methods was being used to age the wine. There were the traditional oak barrels arranged in rows throughout the modern cellar, but there were also giant clay vessels that were being used for the first time as an experimental technique. 

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

The historic cellar was very interesting as well, being located underground and housing only a select number of wines, along with individual private wine collections. 

Finally, we met back in the restaurant for an incredible taster session of their fine dining menu.

The selection of dishes using local and international influences was all crafted by the 23-year-old head chef, Victor, who is clearly talented well beyond his years! 

Day 4 – Our Road Trip to Transnistria

For our final day in Moldova, we decided to do some exploring on our own. We rented a car from a local car rental company called i-Rent. So we jumped into our very comfortable Toyota Hybrid to drive a little over an hour to reach the city of Tiraspol. This city is located in the “Republic of Transnistria,” which is an unrecognized state between the river Dniester and the Ukrainian border which is officially recognized as part of Moldova. Moldova recognizes Transnistria as an ‘autonomous territorial unit’ meaning that they have their own government, parliament, military, police, postal system, currency, and even vehicle registration!

10 Best Things To Do in Transnistria and Where to Stay

To enter Transnistria we had to pass through a military checkpoint with a special permit to be allowed to enter. 

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

Ever since the start of the Covid pandemic, no tourists have been allowed to enter, but we were luckily contacted by the owner of one of the most popular restaurants in Tiraspol (Kumanek Ukrainian Restaurant), Igor, who was able to arrange a special pass for us to enter with our rental car

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

The border guard checked our passports and car documents, but it was all straight forward and they were very friendly. 

When we arrived we could tell straight away that there is something different about Tiraspol compared to the rest of Moldova. The city still retains much more of its Soviet atmosphere and architecture, in a very well-preserved way. Images and statues of communist-era icons are displayed much more prominently than in neighboring Chisinau. 

After exploring for a little while we met up with Igor in a modern cafe near a park who told us more about the city and about his own traveling life. Later we met up with him and his son, Ivan, for a drive around the city in his original 1960s Volga car, which was a luxury soviet car brand at the time! 

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

They took us for lunch and a traditional Soviet-style restaurant, where everything is exactly like it would have been back in the 1970s USSR! 

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

After lunch, Ivan helped us go to the bank to exchange some of the local Transnistrian currency, which is made of plastic and looks like pieces from a board game! 

10 Best Things To Do in Transnistria and Where to Stay

We had a great time with them and our experience of Tiraspol would not have been the same without them! 

On the way back we visited the city of Bender to see the Bendery fortress which dates back at least as far as 1408 and is one of the most important historic monuments in Moldova. 

Our Winery Tour Experience in Moldova Best Winery in Moldova You Should Visit

It was getting very cold by now so we decided to head back to Chisinau, but we accidentally drove back to the wrong border control. We hadn’t realized that whatever checkpoint you enter through is the one that you have to return by!

We definitely want to come back here and see more of the region!

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Written by Kach Umandap - Howe

Co-Founder of Two Monkeys Travel Group. Since 2013, Kach has visited all the 7 continents (including Antarctica) and 143 countries using her Philippines Passport. In 2016, she got married then a year later bought a sailboat and went on sailing adventures with her two cats - Captain Ahab & Little Zissou in the Caribbean for 2 years. She now lives in Herceg Novi, Montenegro. She writes about her experiences traveling as a Filipina traveler with a PHL Passport. Also tips on backpacking trips, luxury hotel experiences, product reviews, sailing & adventure travel.

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