The present state was created in 1991 with the collapse of the USSR. Its geographical roots lie in the historical landscape of Bessarabia (see there the history). Numerous archaeological finds, such as amphorae and grape seeds, prove that viticulture has been practised here for over 5,000 years. In the north, east and south the state is surrounded by the Ukraine. In the west it borders on Romania, whose influence can be felt in the viticulture due to their long common history. The princes of Moldavia founded their own wine culture in the Middle Ages. However, from the beginning of the 16th century this collapsed again under 300 years of Ottoman rule and the associated ban on alcohol.
After the Russo-Turkish war, viticulture was reactivated from 1812 onwards. In the second half of the 19th century many French grape varieties were introduced. Towards the end of the 20th century, however, viticulture again suffered severe setbacks or losses due to the phylloxera catastrophe. After a brief recovery, the two world wars destroyed a large part of the vineyards and wineries. The reconstruction began in the 1950s. Within ten years, 150,000 hectares were planted and the vine population grew to well over 200,000 hectares. In the USSR, Moldova developed into the largest wine producer with about a quarter of the production. In the 1980s, however, under Mikhail Gorbachev, many vineyards were cleared again, especially in the north.
Numerous legends and anecdotes bear witness to the ancient winegrowing tradition. One of the most famous stories is that of the storks: Once again there was a Turkish invasion; the enemy laid siege to a fortress near Grodieshti. The brave defenders were running out of water and food, and the fighters' strength was slowly diminishing. Suddenly hundreds of storks appeared in the sky, which, with the help of the wind and their strong flapping of wings, drove the enemy to the ground. The storks threw bundles of vines from their beaks down to the defenders. The warriors were thus saved from thirst and hunger. With renewed strength they successfully defended their home fortress and the Turkish enemy had to leave. Since that time, the stork has been a symbol of happiness and contentment. The stork with grapes symbolizes Moldavian viticulture and is included in the logo of the Viticulture Association (source: WIKIPEDIA).
In 2012, the total area under vines was 142,000 hectares, of which 1.47 million hectolitres of wine were produced (see also under Wine production volumes). More than half of it is used for the cultivation of table grapes. Viticulture is of eminent economic importance. Wine products, fruit and vegetables are the main export articles. European standard varieties are cultivated to about 70%. Two thirds of the varieties cultivated are white wines and one third red wines. The grape variety index 2010 (statistics Kym Anderson):
The geographical and climatic conditions are very favourable for viticulture. Moldavia is situated on the same latitude as the French Burgundy. It has a continental climate with high solar radiation. In 1954, after extensive studies, a professor P. I. Ivanov divided Moldova into four agricultural zones with different climates. In the northern region of Balti, mainly white wine grapes are produced for the production of brandy, fortified wines and simple wines. The central region Codru with the capital Chisinau is surrounded by forested mountains. More than half of the vineyards and the most famous wineries such as the former Tsar's estate Romanesti are located here.
The famous 65-kilometre-long underground cellars of the town of Cricova store the sparkling wines produced in the winery of the same name as well as an extensive historical wine collection. Among other things, excellent red wines are produced in this region. The Cahul region in the south is climatically particularly suitable for red wines and sweet wines. In the south-east of the country, along the western banks of the Nister, lies the fourth region Purcari (also Nistreana). It is known for its aging red wines in Bordeaux style, such as the "Negru de Purcari" produced by the winery of the same name. Towards the end of the 19th century, Purcari wines were supplied to the English royal court, among others.
In contrast to the other former USSR states, the proportion of dry wines is relatively high, but there are also the traditional sweet dessert wines. The famous port wine like Kagor has a two hundred year old tradition. Almost two thirds of the production comes from cooperative wineries. Well-known producers in Moldova are for example Acorex, Aroma, Branesti, Château Vartel, Ciumai, Comrat, Cricova, Dionysos Mereni, Milestii Mici, Purcari, Romanesti, Taraclia and Trifesti. About 90% of the wine production is exported; with over 80% by far the largest part goes to Russia. In March 2006, the Russian government imposed an import ban on Moldovan and Georgian wine products. According to the official interpretation, the ban was imposed because of alleged violations of health regulations (excessive levels of pollutants). The embargo was lifted in November 2007. However, the high export share was reduced significantly on a sustained basis.