Over the years, Romanian wine has attracted countless European business people and wine enthusiasts, mainly due to the affordable prices compared to countries such as Italy, France, or Germany. But Romania’s wine culture has a long history. Thousands of years ago, in the historic regions that make up today’s Romania, grapevines were growing wild. The Vitis Silvestrii species, for example, was autochthonous in the oak forests, and it was the foundation of the famous Dacian grapevine.
The geographic region of Romania was traditionally one of Europe’s largest producers of wine, with even Napoleon himself being a huge fan of its grape varieties, but the wine industry declined after 1990 due to numerous economic factors. Today, according to the latest statistics, Romania is today the 13th largest wine producer worldwide and the 6th largest in Europe, and Romania's wine production has been constantly improving for the last 10 years. The country is home to more than 250 wine cellars, but only 140 of them produce and sell bottled wine. Most of Romania’s wine cellars can be visited anytime during the year, but they are most attractive between April and October. Wine tasting sessions can be organized at most of the Wineries, with the most important departure cities being Bucharest, Iasi, and Cluj-Napoca.
In Romania, grapevines can be grown throughout most of the surface of the country, from the Danube River in the south to the northern regions of Moldavia and Maramures, and they can range from Romanian grape varieties to international wine varieties. The only regions that cannot produce wine are the counties of Brasov, Covasna, Harghita (due to their high altitude) and Suceava.
Thus, a trip on the road of vines and wines requires us to travel around almost all of Romania’s territory. We will first discover some of Moldavia’s wines and wineries, continue with Dobrogea, pass through Wallachia, reach the western regions of Banat, Crisana, and Maramures, and close everything with Transylvania.
In Moldavia, the vineyards occupy a surface of 90,000 hectares, spreading from the northern region of Botosani to the southern region of Vrancea. Besides the numerous vineyards, Moldavia is also home to the „Bachus” International Vine and Wine Festival, in Vrancea.
Grasă de Cotnari grapes. Photo source: Cotnari Facebook Page
Cotnari is a major wine-producing commune in Romania, and it is most famous for its Grasă de Cotnari, a wine variety produced ever since the rule of Stephen the Great (1457 – 1504). Graswă de Cotnari is a botrytised white wine with high residual sugar content that can reach up to 300g/liter. A well-made wine has a golden-yellow shade, and in spite of its high sugar content, it retains a fine acidic structure and somewhere between 11.5% and 14% alcohol by volume. It ages well, its color darkening from a pale yellow to a dark yellow with an orange note in it. A good Grasă de Cotnari should have a distinct bouquet of apricots, walnuts, and almonds, and should be enjoyed at a temperature of about 10-12 degrees Celsius.
Besides Grasă de Cotnari, the Winery also produces Tămâioasă Românească, Fetească Albă, and Francușă.
Grasă de Cotnari grapes. Photo source: ParadisVerde.ro
Another important wine-producing region is Iasi, which is home to several vinicultural centers: Copou, Bucium, Uricani, Comarna, Plugari, and Probota. Besides Cotnari, in the Iasi County, you will also find Bohotin, another important wine-producing commune. The settlement is renowned for its Busuioacă de Bohotin, a light Romanian sweet red wine with an aroma resembling honeysuckle and ripe juicy peaches, made of a local red grape variety. It usually has a sugar content of a little over 40g/liter, and between 11.5% and 12.5% alcohol by volume. Busuioaca de Bohotin can age beautifully for up to 20 years, and the wine is also produced in the Vaslui, Buzau, and Prahova counties, on a total area of around 100 hectares.
The Averesti Winery was built in 1874, and it is located in the Northeastern part of Moldavia, on the Husi Vineyards. The vines have been cultivated here for thousands of years, and today the winery spreads over an area of 550 hectares filled with local varieties of wine such as Zghihara and Busuioaca, as well as international varieties. Each year, a wine bottle is buried in the coldest spot of the wine cellar as an offering to the land and to those that worked it in the past.
Zghihara de Huși is the most acidic Romanian wine, and it stands out through its sour taste and sorrel aroma that resembles freshly picked apples. This wine variety has a green-yellow color, around 11% alcohol by volume, and is best paired with a traditional Romanian dish such as tochitură or sarmale.
Another Romanian wine that is worth mentioning is the white blend Feteasca Regală, which can be Dry, Off-Dry, or Sweet. The sweet wine is perfect to pair with white meat, fruits, and sweet cheeses, and it has a sugar content of 22g/l and 12% alcohol by volume. The Off-Dry wine has a sugar content of 10g/l and it is great to pair with traditional Romanian starters, seafood, or white meat, and the Dry wine works amazingly with a game and fine cheese.
Dobrogea is one of Romania’s most important regions from a touristic point of view, mainly due to the Danube Delta. But the influence of the Black Sea plays an important part in the average temperature, making the land perfect for grapevine growing.
Inside a Murfatlar wine shop. Photo source: CramaMurfatlar.ro
The Murfatlar Vineyard spreads over an area of approximately 2,600 hectares, and its history begins in 1907 when grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Muscat Ottonel were experimentally planted here. Due to their success, the vineyard culture started growing in the region, and in 1943 the Experimental Vinicultural Murfatlar Resort was founded. Their grape varietal wines were expanded and included grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
Wine stock at the Măcin Winery. Photo source: VinuriDeMacin.ro
The Alcovin-Măcin Vineyard spreads over an area of 300 hectares, and it is the official wine supplier of the Romanian Royal House. The Winery has 5 major brands of wine – Pelegrin, Curtea Regală, Renatus, Tres Rosae, and Trei Brate, each of which produces a large variety of wines.
Aligoté Curtea Regală is one its most appreciated wines. This young refreshing white wine is Dry and has an average percentage of alcohol by volume and a moderate acidity. It pairs perfectly with white meats, especially oily fish, and cheese products, and it was the favorite wine of King Michael of Romania.
Comprised of the historic regions of Muntenia and Oltenia, Wallachia is home to one of Romania’s largest grapevine culture, covering an area of 104,000 hectares. Located in the Southern part of Romania, the climate is a bit warmer than in the rest of Romania, this region is renowned for its red and colored wines, but also for its superior white wines.
The vineyards in Domeniile Săhăteni. Photo source: AureliaVisinescu.com
Located in the Buzău County, Domeniile Săhăteni is a Winery whose vineyards are located in the middle of Dealu Mare, a commune renowned for its wine production, surrounded by the majestic Carpathian Mountains. Their vineyards stretch over an area of 82 hectares, and their wine-making style combines the techniques of the Old World with the New World, yielding batches of wine that start from 2,500 bottles to 20,000 bottles.
The grape varieties cultivated at Domeniile Sahateni are both Romanian – Fetească Albă, Tămâioasă Românească, Fetească Neagră, as well as international – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more. Over the years, the wines signed by Aurelia Vișinescu achieved international recognition at numerous renowned competitions.
The Tohani Vineyards are located in the heart of Romania's viticultural center, Dealu Mare, and official records talk about the existence of a vineyard in this area ever since 1773. In 1930, the Tohani Vineyards became the royal property of Prince Nicholas of Romania, the second son of King Ferdinand I of Romania. In 1948, Domeniile Tohani became a property of the state, and in association with renowned specialists from the region of Bordeaux, a wine cellar was built, that today has become a museum. The winery on the location is home to more than 100,000 bottles of wine.
An important thing to mention is that the vineyards of Domeniile Tohani are located on the 45th parallel north, just like the famous French region of Bordeaux, having similar natural conditions. The extra days of sunshine allow the grapes to ripe better and to accumulate more sugar, resulting in really powerful and aromatic wine.
The vineyards are spread over an area of 500 hectares, and its soil provides the optimal conditions for growing Fetească Neagră. Their most appreciated wine is Apogeum, a dry red wine made from the grape variety Fetească Neagră, which was awarded the gold medal at "Concours Mondial de Bruxelles" in 2014, one of the most prestigious wine contests in the world. Other wine varieties cultivated at Domeniile Tohani are Pinot Noir, Tămâioasă Românească, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Fetească Regală, and more.
Lacerta Vineyard Estate. Photo source: lacertawinery.ro/en
The LacertA vine estate spreads over an area of 82 hectares at 100 km North-East of Bucharest, in the Buzau County. This exquisite location invites its guests to explore their wine cellar, taste a glass of noble wine, and admire one of Romania's most beautiful vineyards from above. The Winery produces numerous grape varieties, both local (Fetească Albă, Fetească Neagră) and international (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Burgundy Royal, Rheinriesling).
Over the years, they tasted and experimented with numerous wine varieties, and currently, they offer 4 special collections of wines:
Thousands of hectares of land are cultivated in the regions of Timiș and Caraș-Severin, and the wines produced here are appreciated throughout the whole world. The first mentions of winemaking in the region of Banat date back to the time of the Roman Empire, but there are legends that claim that this is the place where Bachus, the Dacian God of Wines, was born.
One of the most famous local wines is Riesling of Banat, a refreshing Off-Dry white wine.
Recaș Vineyards. Photo source: CrameleRecas.ro
The Recas Vineyards cover an area of approximately 1100 hectares, and they are one of the most important Vineyards in Banat. Producing a variety of white, red, and rosé wines, they focus on quality, and their wines have been awarded medals and diplomas at numerous national and international competitions, and they distribute them in more than 25 countries.
The Western climate makes it hard to properly produce red wines in this area, but the white wines are very qualitative, with a strong taste and an acidic and fruity character.
Silvana is one of the few regions in Romania where sparkling wine is produced following the classic Champenoise method, by fermenting it in its own bottle for at least one year at a constant humidity and temperature.
Situated in the Dealurile Silvanei region, Padurea Silvana is the northernmost winery in Romania, and its grape varieties include Fetească Regală, Pinot Noir, Muscat Ottonel, Fetească Albă, Chardonnay, and Traminer.
Transylvania, a land renowned for its diversity and made famous by the infamous legend of Dracula. But not many know that this land has a climate that is perfect for white wines. Besides the local grape varieties such as Fetească Albă or Fetească Regală, many well-known wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are grown here. And although the best region for growing red wine is in the south of Romania, Transylvania is quite successful at it as well.
Liliac Vineyards. Photo source: Wine Tourist Magazine
In the Bistrița-Năsăud County, you will find the remote village of Lechința, a land where wine was produced even before the Roman Empire by German settlers who cultivated grapevines at the foothills of the Carpathians.
Liliac has been producing wines since 2010 right in the heart of Transylvania, and some of its wine varieties include local and foreign varieties, such as Fetească Neagră, Muscat OttonelSauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Muscat Ottonel, Chardonnay, and Fetească Neagră. They work together with international experts and a local hard-working team, and they manually pick the grapes and carefully handle it throughout the whole process. So whether you’re planning to enjoy a golden quality wine with intense exotic flavors or a red-purple wine with hints of berries, the wines of Liliac are something that you should try.
Jidvei Vineyards. Photo source: Jidvei Facebook Page
Grapevine cultivation in the Târnavelor region was mentioned for the first time by Herodotus, and in 1200 the region was mentioned in official documents as Weinland – The land of wine. The Jidvei Winery has a portfolio of more than 30 wines, but it is renowned for its Dry and Off-Dry white wines. Jidvei cultivates traditional grape varieties such as Fetească Albă and Fetească Regală, as well as internationally renowned varieties such as Italian Riesling, Muscat Ottonel, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.
Jidvei is also an important producer of sparkling wine and brandy.
With such a large variety of grapes, drinking wine has never been this fun, and food matching has never been this easy.