In the land of the sunny East, where the hills are majestically shaped, the most precious fruit the Earth has to offer is like a promise of divine inspiration, the promise to be turned into wine. Not just any wine, but one of noble kin and therefore one you shouldn’t drink from. The Cotnari Wine is to be peacefully enjoyed, for you to be able to listen each grape telling its story.

Back in time. Following the roots of the Cotnari Wine

For more than two millennia, in these realms, the vineyards are nourished to ripen. On the Hills of Catalina, under the touch of the autumn sun, the residents of the Thracian-Getic fortress used to master the art of turning grapes into sweet sour Bacchic drinks. Later on, this craft became a local tradition.
Looking back to pages of history, Cotnari vineyards are mentioned in the writings of Radu Rosetti since the early times of 1250, right before the Voivodeship of Moldova was founded. Nevertheless,  the discoveries made on the land of Catalina Fortress tell us that vines were being grown here even before Christian times, since the reign of Burebista, the leader of the Geto-Dacians (82 - 44 BC). Although the ruler of the Dacian people, under a blaze of passion, gave order for the vine plantations to be burned, the wine tradition will survive in the distant future, to reach its peak during the XV-XVI centuries. During the reigns of Petru II, Stefan The Great and Despot-Voivode, the Cotnari vineyards were thriving under the sun, being carefully groomed: the vines had stretched like ivy on the Moldavian hills and there was plenty of wine to enjoy, as never before seen. More than that, Dimitrie Cantemir himself wrote about this holy vineyards in his “Descriptio Moldaviae”.
In the late XVI century, Cotnari had more than 3.500 households and was one of the largest settlements in Moldova, nearly as vast and populated as Suceava and Bacau. The town’s development is mainly due to the grape clusters being spoiled by the sun, but also to the people’s good skill to fulfill the grapes’ destiny: turning them into wine. After all, the name ‘Cotnari’ speaks for itself referring to the fortune of being an expert in shaping barrels.
Around 1830, the grapes destined for wine were being picked from the vineyards’ 720 acres of land. A hundred years later, the vines of Cotnari were covering nearly the same territory, only to reach no less than 2000 acres in 1990. Nowadays, the vineyards idly extends over 1700 acres that embellish the leisurely hills of the Moldavian Plateau. After being born from its grapes, the wine gets to age slowly in barrels made of oak, hidden in the chilly cellars of Cotnari. It is worth mentioning these cellars are some of the most impressive in Romania, the wine collection having more than 1 million bottles, some of these being even older than the shelter hosting them.

In small amounts, like all good things,/ And valuable as all rare things

Of all the fruitful realms that nourish the vines, one could say that God gave this land more sunny days. Therefore, the bountiful vineyard can ripen its grapes in a favorable environment. Although being perched on the hills, the vineyards are being kept safe from the cold air masses by the warm foehn winds. Thereby facing the friendly winds, the grapes enjoy their childhood and enrich their sweetness.
The geographic position has an important contribution to this unique favourable environment. Besides being located next to the heart of Moldova - the city of Iasi - the Cotnari vineyards is also on the same latitude as the famous Champagne from France and Tokay from Hungary. Yet some say this geographic resemblance is of little importance, Cotnari having a much higher quality.
“Although situated close to the northern boundary of the most favourable land for vines, the Cotnari vineyards are blessed with good soil and climate and also has a strong tradition, thus being one of the most appreciated vine plantations in the world, offering some of the best quality wines.
In addition to this, the vineyard of Cotnari is the only one in Romania dedicated exclusively to Romanian wines. No other grape varieties are to be found sharing this fruitful land with the local vines. More important, neither are Grasa de Cotnari and Francusa to be seen somewhere else. There are no other realms more bountiful than Cotnari, the homeland.
Cotnari values quality over quantity and this is why the vines are not being overwhelmed with grapes and take their time to ripe. The production of grapes per hectare is limited to only 70-80% of its capacity, unlike other regions, foreign or Romanian, where 100% is the norm.
Therefore not in vain there is this saying that goes around: “In small amounts, like all good things,/ And valuable as all rare things/ That’s how the wine of Cotnari is.”

The heart of Cotnari

Nature gave this land an exquisite gift and the local people have always known how to treasure it and to pass it on to future generations. They put their heart and soul into grapes and their tradition of craftsmanship into wine. This is why Mihail Sadoveanu said in his writings the vineyard of Cotnari was always blessed with wise people.
“During its process of evolution, the Cotnari vineyard found its spot in the marketplace as a result of the good management of S.C. Cotnari S.A.. This company improved the process of winemaking by adding professional competence, performance and economic competitiveness in all of its business activities and areas of influence”, as proudly states its General Manager.

S.C. Cotnari S.A. now has over 1.700 hectares of grapevines, 1.300 with fruit-bearing capacity. This vineyard only grows Romanian varieties of grapes: Grasa de Cotnari, Francusa, Feteasca Alba si Tamaioasa Romaneasca, in approximately equal quantities, and recently also added Feteasca Neagra and Busuioaca de Bohotin.
The most appreciated grape variety is Grasa de Cotnari, this one giving a wine like no other, impossible to be produced anywhere else in the world. The wine was described as being “a little bit bitter, similar to a nutshell, with a strong perfume, a wine which tends to perfection when ageing properly.”
The annual grape production is on average 12 million kg, a quantity that gives  approximately 7.5 million litres of C.D.O. wine (controlled designation of origin). The maximum capacity of storage for the factory is around 2.000 train wagons and that equals 20 million litres.
The annual selling rate of the company is over 10 million bottles of wine, with national distribution, reaching a market share of 23% for the white wines at the end of 2011.
More than that, the prestige of the Cotnari wines goes far beyond the Romanian borders. Since a very long time ago, the Romanian wines were highly appreciated all over Europe. According to Dimitrie Cantemir, the wines made in Moldova were to be enjoyed by men of noble rank in Tarigrad, Warsaw and Vienna. It is said that Napoleon himself was passionate about the wines from Cotnari.
Nowadays, things haven’t changed much about the fame this brand enjoys. The wine exports of Cotnari have grown in 2011 by 15% compared to 2010, bringing a strong contribution to the overall turnover of more than 25 million euros. Cotnari is very well appreciated on the European market, but also in the U.S.A., Canada, Japan, Russia and China.
In order to reach this level of performance, Cotnari continuously improved the processes that drive its business and made investments in top technologies developed in collaboration  with well-known companies from Italy, Germany and Sweden. The value of the investments made in the last five years is over 20 million euros.

Golden wines. A bouquet of awards

There is this place with sunny hills where refined liquors are flowing down the valleys, carrying the love of the vine growers and their history. A place where one can read its value and history in a glass of wine.
Hundreds of years of tradition crown the foretime of these wines with a collection of countless national and international awards. Since the first steps outside the borders, during the reign of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the Cotnari wine, won the supreme distinction. Back then, it was Grasa de Cotnari, the most precious from its vineyard, that received the award. Furthermore, this wine variety has been awarded over time more than 50 medals at international wine contests and also a few other dozens at national competitions.
Grasa de Cotnari later became the Romanian golden wine, highly appreciated by its consumers, who value this wine as the best among inland wines in a recent survey regarding the most representative Romanian brands in 2010.
Nevertheless, the other wine varieties from Cotnari are also very well appreciated. Francusa, Feteasca Alba and Tamaioasa Romaneasca have all delighted the taste buds of the wine tasters, receiving awards, reckoning and a little bit of envy from the other winemakers.
“We won over 150 medals in different contests around the world during the last 10 years.”
Through its wines made from authentic Romanian grape varieties, Cotnari brought its contribution to consolidate Romania’s reputation as one of the elite winemakers in the world.

In vino... futurum

The bounteous sun guarding the land gives an extra touch of sweetness to the grapes from Cotnari vineyards. This is why most people think these wine varieties are exclusively sweet or semi-sweet wines, although Francusa, one of the oldest grape variety from these vineyards, proves otherwise.
“Francusa is a grape variety specific only to Cotnari vineyard and this is a great advantage that must be harnessed to reach its full potential. Secondly, we anticipated the change of interest from sweet wines to dry and semi-dry ones and we started to pay more attention to this particular wine. Therefore, during the last 5 years, we dedicated our efforts to develop the sub-brand of Francusa. Fighting for a spot on the marketplace with other dry wines hasn’t been easy since Cotnari already had a strong reputation for its sweet wines, but with a lot of hard work and dedication we were successful: we’ve been awarded the gold medal in last year’s contest in Berlin”, says the General Manager of Cotnari.
Besides the well known wine varieties, Cotnari plans to market red and rosé C.D.O. wines (controlled designation of origin). In order to do this, Cotnari extended its vineyard with 105 hectares of Feteasca Neagra and 40 hectares of Busuioaca de Bohotin.
“S.C. Cotnari S.A. has a couple of major advantages: its history, the tradition, two authentic grape varieties - Grasa de Cotnari and Francusa - also its large area of vine plantations, the terroir, the modern technology and its highly qualified people. All of this builds us stronger than other wine producers and makes it very difficult for them to compete against us.”

To be continued

It’s not for nothing that we have friendly hills, good vines and tradition tied to a long history. Romanian wines will never disappoint, whether we pour them into our own glasses or that they’re being enjoyed around the world, proudly promoting the “Made in Romania” label.

Cotnari S.A.