With one of the world’s longest wine making traditions, Romania has a leading position among the most important wine producers in Europe, being also one of the top 10 wine cultivated surfaces in the world.
Aside the legend which says that the Romanian territory is intimately related with the Thracian god of wine, Dionysos – who was born on this land – and the archeological evidences presenting the country steeped in a 4,000-years tradition of winemaking, Romania is, without any doubt, a wine country, a place where the sacred potion means much more than a simple beverage.
Always a presence in the history’s most important moments, a silent witness of both victories and defeats, the elixir of the gods, best friend or undefeated enemy, the wine, at a universal scale, has always been important for Romanians. Pleasure or necessity, wine is always there to celebrate or commemorate the most important events – birth, marriage and death – crossing time to become the very bridge between primitivism and evolution.
Today, for Romanian people, the wine is both the most common drink and the most sophisticated treat, the success of a well-kept tradition, the sense of a special moment, the display of an elegant diner or an official meeting, a great company for loners, the spark in a lover’s eye, an opportunity to celebrate and a source of inspiration for artists. If a drink can be compared to an art, then the rhythm of wine’s drops flowing in a glass can be nothing but poetry.
Beyond the romance of wine, Romania’s geographical location and its temperate climate with hot summers and cold winters are carefully managed by local factors such as the Carpathian Mountains, the Danube Delta and the Black Sea, in order to create favorable areas determining the wine’s varied range and its high quality. Romania boasts seven important wine regions, each with its own vineyards and flavors.
1. The Transylvanian Plateau
Located in central Romania, the Transylvanian Plateau boasts some of the best vineyards in the country. The main areas here, famous for their white aromatic wine, are Tarnave and Alba-Iulia.
Also known as “the vineyard of flavors,” Tarnave lies on high altitude, between two rivers (Tarnava Mica and Tarnava Mare), reveling in an unruffled microclimate which allows grapes to maintain their acidity and flavor. The most common varieties of wine produced here are: Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Muscat Ottonel, Sauvignon Blanc, Italian Riesling and Pinot Gris.
2. Moldova’s Hills
With very diverse soils and climate conditions, the area comprising Moldova’s Hills is the largest Romanian wine region and the home of the legendary Cotnari vineyard, which provides the most popular wine in Romania. With a history of more than seven centuries, the wines made here are much appreciated all over Europe for their light sweet flavor. In 1989, a Cotnari wine won the first prize at L’Exposition Universelle de Paris. Other important wineries in this region are located in Vrancea and around Iasi, the old capital of Moldova.
Pietroasele Vineyard, Wikipedia
3. Muntenia and Oltenia
The Hills of Muntenia and Oltenia are well known for their high quality red wines with rich flavors: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. The two regions are located in the south of the Carpathian Mountains, covering a cultivated area of over 100,000 hectares. Some of the main vineyards here are: Dealu Mare, famous for the Tamaioasa grape variety, and the exceptional gold-colored wine; Arges-Stefanesti producing mainly dry, medium-dry and an excellent apricot flavored wine twisted from Tămâioasă Românească (Romanian Muscatel) and Dragasani vineyards where the wine is obtained from old indigenous grapes such as Gordan, Cramposie, Braghina and Tămâioasă Românească.
Dealu Mare vineyard is located in Prahova, home to some of the most famous mountain resorts of Romania. The department of Prahova in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism organizes “Wine Routes” to offer wine enthusiasts the chance to visit the beautiful area, as well as the vineyards located here.
4. Banat Hills
Situated in the western part of Romania, the vineyards of Banat have become famous at the beginning of the 19th century when the wine produced here was successfully exported to England, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and America, being particularly popular in the Imperial Court of Vienna.
Today, the most important vineyard in the region is Recaş, famous for both crispy white wines and reds including the soft Kadarka and the strong Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
5. Crişana and Maramureş
Most of the wines produced in Crişana and Maramureş are obtained from both old native grapes and new imported varieties. Most common are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cadarca, Merlot, Italian Riesling, Burgund Mare, Feteasca Regala, Furmint, Pinot Noir, Muscat Otonel, Muntoasa de Maderat and Feteasca Alba.
Crişana, situated in the west of Romania, close to the Hungarian border, is well-known for its excellent red wines (Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), while the beautiful area of Maramureş, where people are still living a charming traditional life, provides acidic white wines, just perfect for brandy.
With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Dobrogea, in the southeast of Romania, between the Black Sea and the Danube Delta, is the most blessed region in Romania when it comes to viticulture. The main vineyard in Dobrogea is Murfatlar, situated only 10 km away from the Black Sea. Alongside Cotnari and Pietroasa, Murfatlar is one of the best wineries in Romania. With the largest surface in the country (3000 hectares), Murfatlar produces a wide range of wines including the sweet Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, rich red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir, but also an excellent dessert wine, Lacrima lui Ovidiu, a deep-golden wine that brings together the eldest wines of Murfatlar. Murfatlar wines are also the most award-winning labels in Romania.
7. The Danube Terraces
The Danube area of Romania will offer visitors the chance to combine their touristic interests with the pleasant experience of tasting various sorts of wine. This wine region includes two main vineyards: Ostrov (Constanta county) and Greaca (Giurgiu county). Due to the humid climate and the favorable soils, white wines produced in these regions are characterized by a soft mellow taste and a clear shiny color, while the reds are distinguished through their intense taste and their beautiful colors, from ruby to deep purple.