THE HISTORY OF WINEMAKING IN PURCARI

The rulers of the land over the course of two thousand years, influenced the development of winemaking in Moldova by improving it according to each ruler’s individual taste. Time sifted out the worst and left the best.

In the late 12th century, on the territory of the principalities of Walachia and Moldova, which had emerged from Dacian tribes, grape growing and winemaking became the chief sectors of the land’s economy and were taken into state protection.

MoldovaOne of the most propitious regions for winemaking in Moldova turned out to be the small settlement of Purcari. It had gently sloping, cozy hillsides rolling along the right bank of the river Nistru, in the vicinity of the village of Purcari; this territory used to be the property of the Afono-Zagraf Monastery. The terraced landscape of the region, which was exposed to sun light and warmth all day long, attracted settlers who came to the Purcari region to develop vineyards. The monastery granted them the land for perpetual use and in return the settlers agreed to give back to the monastery one-tenth of their revenues and harvest. The settlers realized that the warm and humid Black Sea winds, and the loamy soil of the Purcari region would allow them to grow grapes of an unusual quality. This was the first step towards the development of quality in Purcari winemaking.

The First Specialized Winemaking Company

The next major influence in the development of viticulture and winemaking in the region came in 1821 when Moldova joined the Russian Empire. A decree of the land’s authorities, issued in 1827, created here the first specialized winemaking company, which was named after one of its founders, a Russian-born German, Harmizone. From that point on wine makers of different origins worked hand in hand on the lands of Purcari—Moldovans (the local landowners Dancila and Clotea) along with Germans and French (Bertier).

MoldovaIn the 19th century modern, European grape varieties were imported to Purcari. The local soils and climate turned out to be quite welcoming to the French varieties Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Pinot Noir.

During an agricultural exhibition held in Basarabia, Purcari wines showed fine expression and tasters were impressed by its delicate bouquet and dense, full taste. The wine thus received its first gold medal.

Then in 1878 the Purcari winemakers brought their wines to the Paris World Exhibition. During the closed-doors wine tasting session, the majority of the jury gave preference to a dry, denselycolored red wine, thinking that it was a new brand from the famous Bordeaux region. They were surprised to learn that the beverage came from an unknown village called Purcari, situated on the river Nistru. Negru de Purcari thus earned the highest form of recognition on the international stage by being awarded the Gold Medal.

The Purcari wines used to be appreciated in Europe alongside the famous wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy. They were ordered to the tables of historic figures as the Russian Emperor Nikolay II, English King George V and English Queen Victoria. Purcari wines used to be sold in Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Germany and France. Purcari wines had won many awards and medals since those first exhibitions.

A Treasure Lost

But in the late 19th century calamity struck—the Purcari vineyards were completely destroyed by philoxera, and the treasure responsible for this historic wine was lost—as it seemed back then—irrevocably. The situation was further compounded by the turbulent early 20th century and later by two world wars resulting in ruin.

MoldovaThe modern history of the Purcari wines started in the 1950s. True masters of the trade emerged, who gradually rebuilt the classical technology of winemaking and prevented the wonderful wine from vanishing. Pimen Cupcea was one of them; he reconstructed the once-forgotten and lost brand Negru de Purcari and created a new brand, Purpuriu de Purcari; academician Ion Ungureanu was another master of winemaking, who created Rosu de Purcari.

In the 1950s, during the Soviet times, the company’s profitability increased from 34.9% to 344%.

The joint holding in Purcari, which had a processing capacity of 7000 tons of grapes per season, produced more than 200,000 dal of primary wine and 75,000 dal of finished wine. Quality and productivity improved continuously. The wines produced here were very popular domestically and abroad.

MoldovaWhen the Soviet Union collapsed, the ensuing economic crisis struck the famous wine producer too. After the country gained independence Its debts grew its equipment and production facilities were deteriorating and growing out of date.

The company once again stopped producing wine, which was famous far beyond Moldova’s borders.

However, consumers and distribution companies, which used to market these quality Moldovan wines, did not forget the wines grown on the slopes of Purcari. The distributors continually enquired about what had happened to the brands Negru de Purcari and Rosu de Purcari. It was they who persuaded a team of winemakers, led by Victor Bostan to revive the erstwhile fame of the Purcari wines.

A New Era for Purcari

Therefore, after a period of desolation in the late 1980s-90s, a new era in the history of Purcari wines started in 2002, when the facility was given a total overhaul and technological upgrade. The Purcari facility is now equipped with the most modern machinery. The old mansion has been replaced by a hotel in line with the best European traditions, where any visitor can relax and taste the wines of the famous cellars. By 2004 primary wine production was fully re-established and varieties such as Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Saperavi, Rara Neagra could be processed again, yielding the exquisite wines Rosu de Purcari and Negru de Purcari.

MoldovaVinaria Purcari is equipped with modern machinery based on the most recent technologies, and is a showcase of top-of-the-line wine production. The equipment was provided by leading European manufacturers and installed by their own engineers between 2002 and 2004.

As of April 2006, Vinaria Purcari won 27 high awards at specialized international contests and wine tastings for the high quality and exquisite taste of its wines.

Having achieved such wonderful accomplishments, Vinaria Purcari does not stop here and continues investing all of its potential in its future.

 

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