Wine production in Romania

IndustrySouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 6/2009

Romania ranks 11th in top of biggest world wine producers

In 2009 Romania ranks 11th in the top of the biggest world wine producers, with a production of 6.8 million hl, being exceeded both by the world leader Italy with a production of 48.6 million hl, and Chile, ranking 9th, with 8.7 million hl and Russia, 10th with 7.1 million hl, according to the report presented by International Wine and Vine Organization. The report also shows, that at the end of the 1980s 8.8 million ha of vine were planted at world level, while in present there are 7.75 million ha. The country that suffered the biggest drawback was Romania where the area cultivated with vineyards was reduced by 50,000 ha.
At present, the world wine production is about 269 million hl per year, on the drop compared to 305 million hl per year at the end of the 1980s. Moreover, while in 1990 about 78% of the world wine production came from Europe, in 2000 it dropped to 71.5% and now to 67%. In exchange the share of wines from Asia and Oceania grew from 1.5% and 1.6% to 5% and 5.4%.

Romanian wine growing has provided plenty of business opportunities over time, and foreign and domestic investors have laid special emphasis on quality. The tight competition among producers is mirrored by the generous wine offer on the market, and the numerous promotion campaigns, meant to attract more customers. "There are many wine makers in Romania, and we can identify them easily because we can find them on the market. This is a good thing for consumers, because they get to choose from a wide variety of wines, made in vineyards all over the country. It is what defines a mature wine market, where customers can find their favourite wine and look for differences among various wines. Romania is rich in vineyards, that can be found almost all over the country, starting with Dobrogea, in the south- east, Banat, in the west, Iasi and Bistrita, in the north, and in several southern areas’’, said Serban Dobronauteanu, Vice president of the National Vine and Wine Employers’ Association.
Out of the 178 thousand hectares of vineyard, about 50 thousand hectares are aimed at the production of wine with controlled origin. In Romania, the annual wine consumption per capita stands at about 24 litres, which is almost the lowest level in the EU, where wine consumption ranges between 20 and 50 litres per capita. An explanation might be that many Romanians continue to produce home-made wines for domestic consumption, which lowers the demand on the market.
Another reason might be that wine ranks only 3rd in Romanians’ preferences, in terms of favourite alcoholic beverages, after beer and spirits. Even though some have expected the Romanian wine market to shrink as against last year, general director of the National Employers’ Union of Vine and Wine Producers, Ovidiu Gheorghe, recently said that the Romanian wine market might exceed the 2008 turnover, which stood at 500 million Euro. As far as the amount of sales is concerned, three quarter litter bottles account for almost half of the market. Sales indicate that Romanians prefer white wines, which cover 72% of total sales, and the semi-sweet wines, accounting for 42 percent of the sales. There are also imported wines, which compete with domestic ones.

Romanian wine at European markets
’’It is true that EU integration has brought us face to face with the European wines, and that has impacted our business, as some of us had predicted. It is equally true that wines from non-EU countries are also present on the Romanian market. However, even though they can be found in outlets and luxury restaurants, they do not cover much of the wine market. That is something specific to all wine growing countries in Europe, where imported wines do not exceed 3 to 7% of the total wine market. That is also the case in Romania, where we hope to meet the tastes of domestic consumers by offering them a wide variety of high quality wines’’ added Serban Dobronauteanu.
Foreign wines on the Romanian market come mainly from France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the US and Hungary. Romania is both a wine importer and exporter, as Serban Dobronauteanu told: ’’The Romanian wine exports are quite significant. There are several consumers who are traditional exporters and who have found good retail markets abroad. Most of them are in the EU, in countries like Germany, Britain and in Northern Europe. There are also countries that are not EU members, but where Romanian wines are present, for instance in the US, Canada and Russia. Over the past years, Romanian wine producers have been trying to boost sales of Romanian wines in China, and even Japan. So we can say that Romanian wines have reached many parts of the world.’’
Romanian wine production reached record levels in the 80s, of about 9 million hectolitres, but over the past 20 years the Romanian wine production has maintained a steady level of 5 million hectolitres per year. According to the Romanian Agriculture Ministry, that places Romania 6th in Europe in terms of production, after France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal, and 15th in the world.

Major players on the Romanian wine market

There are four major players on the Romanian wine market - Murfatlar, Jidvei, Cotnari and Vincon, and several smaller producers. They have constantly brought new quality wines on the market, as well as wines with controlled origin, proof thereof being the annual growth of this segment, accounting for 5 or 6% of the market.

Murfatlar is known as the largest vineyard in Romania. It belongs to a single producer and the vineyard fields are spread over 3000 hectares (7400 acres) around Murfatlar, Valul lui Traian, Poarta Alba and Siminoc. The Murfatlar vineyards enjoy a particluarly favorable micro-climate, suited for producing a wide variety of wines. Company is proud with its modern production technologies, which are tailored to each wine variety

The largest vinery of Transylvania region is animated by the inheritors of the Saxon tradition and blessed with excellent climate for white grapes. The vinery is situated in a small village with the same name, in Alba County. The village is dating back to 1499, and the locals here have been gathering every fall the wine grapes for centuries, from surfaces that go as large as 1400 hectares. Jidvei Vinery as it is known today, was set up in 1949 and it has the largest vine cultivated surface in Transylvania and the larges white grape vine cultivated surface in Romania. Remarkable varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Feteasca Regala (Royal Maiden), Muscat Ottonel, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay as well as Pinot Gris, Sylvaner or Ezerfrut found here one of the best climate and soil conditions in the world.
The mist specific to the summer mornings in the Transylvania plateau is preventing the light from strongly pigmenting the grapes. Moreover, the moderate temperatures during their maturation favour the white grape varieties with balanced acidity, the flavours and sugars beeing slowly and progressively accumulated.
As time passed, the old wooden winepresses were replaced by state-of-the-art technology. However, the harvesting of grapes, the fermentation, storage and ageing of the wine is done by the same rules as centuries ago. Excellent climate and soil, technology, tradition and passion make the vinery "King of white wines", fact confirmed by over 100 international medals received arround the world.

Contrari was set up in 1948, as part of a state farm, which owned at the time 128 ha of vineyards. In 1956, SC COTNARI SA becomes an independent unit. Between 1966 - 1968 a large wine-making complex has been built with a capacity of 500 tons of grapes in 12 hours and with a storage capacity of 10,500 tons, of which 5,520 tons for maturing. As from 2000, SC COTNARI SA has been privatised through the MEBO (Management-Employees Buy-Out) method. Currently, SC COTNARI SA cultivates about 1,156 ha of vineyards. In 2002, the wine-making complex employs a permanent staff of 380 persons and about 400 temporary employees during the peak periods in vineyards. Out of the 380 employees, 50 are specialists who work in the laboratories or vineyards to obtain new vine varieties or wines of excellence.

Vincon Vrancea SA has an experience of over 50 years. The company owns over 28,000 ha planted with vine in three famous vineyards, located in some of the most prestigious viticultural area from Romania: The Sub-Charpatiens hills - in three well-known vineyards: PANCIU, ODOBESTI, COTESTI; The Sub-Charpatiens hills - in the well-known vineyard DEALU MARE- CERNATESTI; Dobrogea Region - in the South of MURFATLAR vineyard, in a special place called CHIRNOGENI; Moldavian Hills in the heart of HUSI vineyard. The vineyards potential and diversity permit us to obtain a large variety of wines, such as: Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Sarba, Galbena de Odobesti, Tamaioasa Romaneasca, Grasa, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Busuioaca de Bohotin, Feteasca Neagra, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Vincon Vrancea was able to keep the balance between traditional winemaking methods and the modern technology - the perfect example is the coexistence in Odobesti of BECIUL DOMNESC CELLAR with one of the most modern equipped production area (bottling line, self adhesive labels machine, corking machine, closing machine, and others).
The company has systematically invested in modern technology both for the viniculture and the wine making and not lastly in vessels for the storage and aging of its wines and distillates. We mention some of these devices:
• for the preparation, conditioning and storage of wines: pneumatic press, vacuum filter, MILLIPOR filters, installations with temperature control during fermentation,  roto-fermenters, equipment for continuous tartrate stabilization, stainless steel tanks,  bariques, etc.
• for wine bottling / packaging: table wine and vintage wine bottling lines equipped with: bottling machines, corking and capping machines, self-adhesive labeling machines, ink jet marking, cardboard forming and packing machines, batch packing machines, Bag in Box packaging line, etc.
• for spirits bottling / packaging: vinars (aged distillates of wine) packaging line, spirits packaging line, self-adhesive labeling machines, pilfer-proof capping machines for bottle sealing, batch packing machines, etc.

Other wine producers


Cramele Halewood International is one of the most significant independent producers of wine and alcoholic beverages in Britain. Established in 1978, Halewood International now has state-of-the-art facilities, an annual turnover of 250 million GBP and more than 1,500 employees worldwide. Halewood International and  Romania Halewood International began importing wines from Romania in 1987. Ten years later, its first Romanian subsidiary was founded, after which it quickly became the largest exporter of Romanian wines to Britain. After investing more than 10 million USD, today Halewood Romania owns three subsidiaries in Romania, in wine growing, wine making and in wine distribution and employs more than 200 staff. The Group manages over 400 hectares of vines in three major wine growing areas: Dealu Mare, Podisul Transilvaniei and Murfatlar. The average annual wine production is 42,000 hl and the storage capacity is 90,420 hl.
Halewood Romania currently sells its wines to more than 40 countries and has become the largest Romanian bottled wine exporter. Countries that Halewood Romania exports to include China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Peru and of course the United Kingdom and the United States. Halewood Romania uses international grape varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, and the amazing local varieties Feteasca Neagra, Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala and Iordana. With such diversity Halewood Romania is able to provide the domestic and international market with high quality wines, all of which have well defined personalities.

Zarea ("horizon" in English), as part of the german group Schloss Wachenheim, has more than 90 years of tradition in producing of sparkling wines (bottle as well as tank fermentation) and spirits (vermouth, brandy, bitter, liqueurs), annually nationally and internationally awarded.
As Romania’s leading sparkling wine producer, Zarea has a portfolio of products that covered all market segments, from the refined sparkling to affordable commercial styles.In 2004 the company ZAREA faced one of the biggest transformation, being privatized and starting a partnership with the world leader in producing of sparkling wines - german group Schloss Wachenheim. This relationship added to ZAREA a new dimension in its evolution and namely Innovation. January 2007 - together with Romania - ZAREA joined European Union with ISO 9001 certification, a restructured portfolio of products, continuing to make big investments in technologies, performing to be the only one Romanian sparkling wine producer able to produce under methods Champenoise, Charmat and Asti.
ZAREA operates within all the standard quality control systems currently applicable to the International wine industry. Over the years the company has developed a serious cliental spread out worldwide and has managed to become a major exporter in the beverages sector. Its main export markets are in European Union (United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, Baltic States, Poland, Bulgaria, etc.), also Ghana, Turkey, Armenia.

Agroindustriala Bucium was set up in 1991. The vineyards cover a surface of 600 ha and have a very long tradition since ancient times. Its documentary attestation dates back in 1469 during the reign of Stephen the Great. The company owns 4 viticultural farms, a vinification centre with a capacity of 600 tons of grapes per day and a storage capacity of 1,400 waggons. The storage for maturation is done in oak barrels in wine cellars with controlled temperature. The company owns also a modern bottling line with a a capacity 2,000 bottles per hour and a vinoteque with 300,000 bottles for ageing since 1958. Its products are exported primarily to countries like Japan, Denmark, Germany, Greece and the USA.

Genuine cradle of tradition VERITAS PANCIU S.A puts all its experience and skills to work for the benefit of consumers. Set at curvature of Carpathian Mountains on an area of about 10 000 ha , Panciu Vineyard is one of the largest lands under grapevine crop in Romania, and the grapes and wines produced here are the most representative as regards quality and quantity.
Placed in Panciu vineyard core, Company Veritas Panciu S.A. mainly deals with yielding, industrialization and commercialization of viticulture produce, service providence, import-export activity, while in the over 50 years of experience has tried to keep on the same quality.
Presently the conditions of grape procession, depositing and grapevine yielding met significant improvement. Great wine variety, as well as the demand on internal and external market technically triggered one of the most updated technological equipment, starting dry cutting of the vine, wine orientation to bottling system, which were provided by famous companies: Padovan -Italy, Krones- Germany.
VERITAS PANCIU S.A. holds own modern manufacturing plant, enclosing capacity of over 100,000 hectoliters and another 4 centers for grape processing and primary wine making , each of them with 20,000 hectoliters capacity. Each autumn you can find here harmonious dynamic and high quality different types of wine: Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Tamiioasa Romaneasca, Babeasca Neagra, Aligote, Traminer, Italian Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Source: National Vine and Wine Employers’
Association, Radio Romania International, International Wine and Vine Organization, Companies’ web pages.
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