Top Moldovan Winery Experiences: Plan Your Wine Tasting Holiday

Moldova’s millennia-old wine heritage combined with the country’s strong tradition of hospitality makes Moldova a truly unique wine holiday destination, one that we are sure will surprise you in many ways and leave you telling stories of all the people you met along the way. Moldovan wine still plays a very important role in local culture and life today, and the growing number of wineries now offering wine tasting tours, accommodation and restaurants provide you with even more options to immerse yourself in Moldova’s wine culture, cuisine and hospitality.

Recent developments in Moldova’s wine sector, including bring back more Moldovan native grape varietals, the rise of independent winemakers and a growing number of annual wine festivals like the Moldovan National Wine Days, mean that it’s also an exciting time to embark on a wine tasting holiday in Moldova. This has been accompanied by investments in wine tourism so that there are now six wineries offering accommodation, 14 wineries with restaurants offering traditional Moldovan food and 40 wineries offering wine tours and wine tasting. Each of these wineries is unique, as is the experience wine tasting or staying there, so you’ll be sure to a personalized and different experience each place you go. You may even have the winery founder or winemaker lead you in your wine tasting tour.

While an opportunity to taste quality Moldovan wines, especially local varietals like Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, and Viorica, is worth the trip to Moldova alone, a wine tasting holiday here includes so much more. The Council of Europe “Iter Vitis” Wine Routes of Moldova combine the best of Moldovan wine with cultural heritage with recommended stops at wineries and nearby monasteries, nature reserves, fortresses and other attractions. You can see and download the Wine Routes of Moldova map below.

Note: Wine tours and tastings need to be reserved in advance. As many of the wineries are small with limited staff, there is no guarantee that someone will be available to give a tour if someone shows up without a reservation. Most wineries now take online bookings so it is easy to book your wine tasting tour online.

So that you can easily plan your wine holiday to Moldova, here are of the most unique and memorable winery and travel experiences in in each wine region.

Unique Moldovan wine holiday experiences in the Codru wine region

Codru is located in central Moldova and is the biggest of Moldova’s wine regions in terms of geography (60,000 hectares) and also the number of wineries. The Codru wine region is famous for its high-quality white and sparkling wines that are known for their fresh, floral and fruity notes. As Codru surrounds Chisinau, many of its wineries are a located within an hour or an easy day trip from Moldova’s capital city. However, for a more complete and deep wine holiday experience, we encourage you to take your time and spend the night.

There are 23 Moldovan wineries in the Codru wine region that offer wine tourism activities, from wine tasting to accommodation and food services. You can explore them all, as well as nearby historical and cultural attractions, within three to four days on the official Council of Europe’s Iter Vitis Codru Wine Route. Here are some of the wine tasting holiday highlights from Codru wine region.

Celebrate traditional Moldovan village life and cuisine at Asconi Winery

Stay in your own Moldovan village house at Asconi Winery. Each of the twelve country houses is built using traditional methods and materials and are decorated with handmade rugs and other features from nearby villages so as to preserve the local cultural heritage. There are also different wine tasting tours on offer, including one with seven different wine tastings, as well as two restaurants. The Asconi Restaurant is famous for its plăcintă (traditional stuffed pastry) and other Moldovan dishes while the Sol Negru Restaurant has a Balkan twist with lots of shared plates. See all this and more in this Asconi Winery video and 360-degree tour.

Enjoy luxury, opera and wine at Castel Mimi winery

Located just outside Chisinau in the village of Bulboaca, Castel Mimi winery offers a combination of luxury, cultural and musical events, high end restaurants and, of course, and quality wines. During Rosé Day or VinOpera festivals, a special train takes guests directly from Chisinau to Castel Mimi to celebrate wine and opera in the shadows of the dramatic winery castle and vast gardens. The winery offers modern 5-star bungalow accommodation with a “Wine Spa” opening soon together with a fine dining White Owl Restaurant with both Moldovan and French Provencal dishes. Explore Castel Mimi in this 360-degree virtual tour.

Learn the legend of Moldovan wine at Chateau Vartely winery

Chateau Vartely located within an hour of Chisinau takes you on a journey through Moldova’s millennia-old wine heritage through an award winning immersive light and video projection onto barrels in the winery’s cellars. This is part of the standard Chateau Vartely wine tour that then has several options for wine tasting and food pairing experiences. For the full experience, spend the night in one of the winery’s three villas. Each one has been designed to highlight the different characteristics of each region of Moldova. You can choose to stay in a villa representing the northern, central or southern part of the country and enjoy traditional Moldovan dishes in their restaurant. Explore more in this 360-degree virtual tour.

Walk through the highest elevation vineyards in Moldova at Crama Mircesti winery

The founder and winemaker, Arcadie Fosnea, returned to Moldova years ago after working in German wineries to renovate an old manor house in his home village of Mircesti to turn it into a small, independent winery now called Crama Mircesti. His vineyards have the highest elevation in the country, giving both his white and red wines a unique taste and strong character. A couple of years, Crama Mircesti added a small hotel and restaurant so people can spend more time in the peaceful countryside there to enjoy tasting wines paired with hearty traditional dishes. There are also opportunities to walk through the nearby vineyards or to take a hike from the winery up to a former Soviet radar and meteorological station with views over the valley. Explore the winery further in this video and 360-degree virtual tour.

Explore the largest wine collection in the world at Milesti Mici winery

When Milesti Mici winery was registered in the Guiness Book of World Records years ago as having the largest wine collection in the world, it was when it had “only” 1.5 million bottles. Currently, Milesti Mici’s Golden Collection is at around 2+ million bottles and keeps growing each year. You can get a glimpse of this impressive wine collection by exploring the labyrinth of underground limestone tunnels with bottles of wine stacked from floor to ceiling (of 200km they currently use around 55km for production and storing wine). There is even a special hidden room that was built during the Soviet Union that was used to hide valuable Moldovan wine from being destroyed during Mikhail Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign of the late 1980s. Wine tour options include visits to the underground tunnels as well as wine tasting and pairing experiences, as well as a free gift of Milesti Mici wine so you can enjoy some of their wine later. Learn more in this 360-degree tour.

Explore the underground wine city at Cricova Winery

Cricova Winery is another truly unique wine tasting experience just outside Chisinau with its 120 km of underground limestone tunnels that serve as the perfect storage place for wine due to its climate and temperature. Cricova Winery is most famous for its sparkling wines and uses seven kilometers of its tunnels for producing and storing these sparkling wines. Wine tasting tours will take by electronic vehicle you through a portion of these tunnels and wine collections where you may even get a glimpse of the private collections of leaders from around the world. Explore more in this 360-degree virtual tour.

Other places to visit and things to do in the Codru wine region

  • Chisinau: Moldova’s dynamic capital city has something for everyone. For culture, food and wine lovers, the city offers high quality (and value) opera, classical music and other cultural events combined with an expanding choice of hip wine bars highlighting local wine producers and restaurants featuring fusion, traditional Moldovan and continental specialties. History buffs will enjoy the city’s many museums, historical monuments and churches while nature lovers will find peace walking through the city’s many parks and green spaces.
  • Nature and history at Orheiul Vechi (Old Orhei): The Orheiul Vechi Cultural and Natural Reserve is one of Moldova’s most beloved and popular sites, both for local and international visitors. Thanks to its strategic location, Orheil Vechi has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years with different civilizations and cultures. It is most famous for its 15th-16th century cave monasteries dug out of and built into the limestone ridge cliffs and ridge, one of which is still an active Orthodox Church today and you can meet one of the local priests or monks. The natural landscape of the limestone ridge over the Raut River makes it a great place for outdoor lovers with its network of hiking, cycling, and birdwatching trails. There are two main villages inside the Orheiul Vechi Reserve – Butuceni and Trebujeni – that offer country B&Bs with traditional home-cooked Moldovan food.
  • A focus on sustainability, community and regenerative agriculture at Hill & Valley. This newly opened family-owned agrotourism complex includes an eco farm, vineyard, farm to table food services, and accommodation just 30 minutes from bustling Chisinau. Located on a hill, the terrace offers panoramic views over the valley, ancient nut orchards, and the tranquil village of Telesau. Nearby trails make this a perfect center for hiking and cycling. Hill & Valley mission revolves around delivering modern comforts to visitors while maintaining a commitment to sustainability and establishing a farm-to-table food system within a sustainable environment that is deeply rooted in their local community. Their overarching goal is to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in the region while promoting responsible agricultural practices. Learn more about all their special events and activities.

Unique Moldovan wine holiday experiences in the Ștefan Vodă wine region

Ștefan Vodă is the smallest of Moldova’s wine regions located in southeastern part of the country. It is best known for its round red wines, but its white wines are also renowned for their fruity and mineral tastes. The Council of Europe’s Iter Vitis Ștefan Vodă Wine Route is a two-day journey through the region to explore wineries, natural sites and rural guest houses.  

Sleep in a barrel or skyhouse on the rooftop of Chateau Purcari with sunrise views over the vineyards

Chateau Purcari, Moldova’s oldest winery dates back to 1827 with its traditional French chateau style surrounded by gardens and ponds. In addition to a variety of wine tasting tours, this winery also has its own restaurant where you can pair its local wines with both traditional Moldovan dishes or those of a French influence. Chateau Purcari is famous for its Negru de Purcari which is known locally as the “Queen’s Wine” as it was supposedly a red wine favorite of both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II. Its more recent Freedom Blend that is a red blend of three native grape varietals – Bastardo (Ukrainian), Saparavi (Georgian) and Rara Neagra (Moldovan) – meant to represent the thirst for freedom of these three countries. 

Enjoy a farm to table style meal with a vineyard view at Et Cetera Winery

The Et Cetera family-owned winery has a strong personal feel to it with a deep connection to the local strengths of the land and community. In fact, wine tours are done with one of the founders and winemakers. In addition to using their big vegetable garden and orchard for their restaurant, they also work with nearby farmers and producers to create a menu made from locally sourced and fresh ingredients. 

Experience Moldova’s wine heritage at the family-run Gogu Winery

The history of Gogo Winery began four generations ago, but it is only in recent years that Ilie Gogu turned a dream into reality. He combined the natural strengths of the land of his family’s vineyard with his technical and modern winemaking knowledge in order to produce small quantities of high quality wines. Wine tours and tastings are a highly personal experience as the tasting room is located in the courtyard of the Gogu family house and you can taste Gogu’s unique wines – made from both native and international grape varietals – paired with traditional Moldovan dishes.

Other places to visit and things to do in the Ștefan Vodă wine region

  • Enjoy the unique architectural beauty and optical illusion of Monastery Acoperământul Maicii Domnului (Assumption of our Lady) in Causeni. Built at the turn of the 17th to 18th century, this monastery looks rather boring and small on the outside, but go inside and you’ll find the interior has a surprisingly vast space and includes medieval frescoes of a Byzantine-Romanian style. This is because the church is built 3-meters below ground level (being “semi-buried”) since Causeni was part of the Bugeac Raya at that time and was therefore subject to Ottoman laws. This required that churches not be higher than the base of the roof of mosques and should not exceed a certain size. Local architects managed to comply with Ottoman laws and still build a spacious and beautiful church by building it below ground.
  • Rent a bicycle from a winery or guest house and take the marked cycling route from Chisinau to Palanca to explore nearby villages, wineries and the rolling vineyards of this region. This cycling route combines wine, food, nature and attractions to fully appreciate and take in the beauty of the Ștefan Vodă area. You can select different segments of the C1 cycling route to match your interests and desired length of route. 

Unique Moldovan wine holiday experiences in the Valul lui Traian wine region

Located in the southern part of Moldova the Valul lui Traian wine region is best known for its big, bold fruity red wines, as well as its fruity and floral sparkling wines, and minerality of its white and rose wines. The Valul lui Traian area also includes Gagauzia, an interesting autonomous territory of the Republic of Moldova. Gaguazian people are of Turkish origin who are orthodox Christian and have called this part of present-day Moldova home for over 200 years. You can explore the wineries and rural guest houses on the Council of Europe’s Iter Vitis Val lui Traian Wine Route.

Immerse yourself in Gagauzian culture, cuisine and wine at Kara Gani winery

Kara Gani is a small family winery in the very south of Moldova that proudly shares Gagauzian cuisine and culture with visitors. Their wine tours offer the option to do wine tasting paired with traditional Gagauz dishes and they also have a small museum on site that showcases Gagauzian traditions and cultural artifacts. The tours also include a visit to the historic monument of the Battle of Cahul and the ruins of Trajan’s Wall from the 3rd century, together with a walk through the beautiful Kara Gani vineyards. At harvest time, you can also participate in grape picking and wine-making for a truly unique experience.

Other places to visit and things to do in the Val lui Traian wine region

  • Hike around, go bird-watching or take a boat across Lake Beleu, part of the Lower Prut UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This lake is also an important stop for migrating birds so depending upon the time of year you may see the lake filled with pelicans making their way north or south. 
  • Cycle one of the newly developed cycling routes in southern Moldova that connects travelers with local wineries, villages, restaurants and family guest houses. Highlights include the “Golden Hills” and rolling landscapes filled with vineyards and orchards, as well as opportunities to meet many of the artisans living in this area. Bikes can be rented at many of the wineries or rural B&Bs. 
  • Enjoy Gagauzian hospitality and culture to the fullest at Sofrasi Gagauz Ethno Village. Ana Statova, the founder of Sofrasi Gagauz Ethno Village, is passionate about sharing Gagauzian culture and traditions with visitors. She has created an immersive deep dive into Gagauzian culture and hospitality at Safrosi Gagauz that also serves the purpose to preserve and value these local traditions. The small Ethnographic Museum of History, Life and Culture of the Gagauzians is not just a static visit. Instead, it is filled with stories of Gagauz people and opportunities to try on traditional clothes and take part in cultural traditions. Sofrasi Gagauz is also famous for its restaurant that serves traditional Gagauzian cuisine with its Turkish and other influences, as well as its wine cellar that features small winemakers in Gagauzia. And finally, it’s a place to rest your head after a full dose of Gagauzian hospitality, food and wine.

How to organize your wine tasting holiday in Moldova

To plan your wine holiday in Moldova and visit different wineries, you can work with a local tour company or travel agency focused on wine holidays to take care of all logistics, transport, accommodation, wine tour bookings. Alternatively, you can organize your wine tasting holiday yourself as it’s easy to rent a car from one of the international car rental companies located in Chisinau Airport. Many wineries and accommodations take online bookings, which makes it easy to organize all your wine tastings and visits.