During my visit to the Republic of Moldova, I have discovered a very interesting place which immediately caught my attention. This place is Cricova Winery, the second largest wine cellar in Moldova after Milestii Mici which is the largest in the world.
About 120 kilometers of tunnels lie under the city of Cricova and shelter a remarkable collection of wines. The Wine Cellars of Cricova are located 13 kilometers away from Chisinau. Taking into account the short distance, it is mandatory to visit these cellars in case you ever get to the capital of Moldova.
The story of this place began in 1947 when Petru Ungureanu came up with the idea of producing and storing wine in the underground city of Cricova. At that time, the underground city was sheltering a huge limestone quarry. In order to put his idea into practice, Petru Ungureanu carried out a series of experiments and produced sparkling wine in a small area of the quarry. The experiments were a success and in a short period of time the first wine barrel was stored under the ground of Cricova.
From 1952, when the winery was founded, to the present day, the underground city has gone through a lot of changes. Even though most of the underground city is occupied by the famous winery and its cellars, a part of this place is still a source of limestone. The rooms and the storage places are connected by streets and tunnels. An interesting detail is the fact that the tunnels and the streets were either named after varieties of wine or ancient deities.
There was a time when you could visit the underground city by car, but today cars are not allowed anymore, because of the high level of pollution. Nowadays, the only way you can visit the winery is via electric trains. These trains will stop among the wine barrels and the bottle racks, which are beautifully arranged and ready to be admired.
The underground city shelters a movie theater, where you can watch a documentary about the production process of the wine and the history of the winery. It goes without saying that the experience of watching this documentary is completed by a glass of champagne, which is, by the way, on the house. After finding out a lot of details about the history of wine, you will be introduced to the world of champagne. The next stop is at the champagne factory where you can visit the production center of the sparkling wine and where you can admire hundreds of champagne bottles, beautifully arranged on the racks.
The tour continues with the Wine Museum, where you can admire a collection of interesting objects related to the history of wine and also an impressive wine collection. From old wines to newer ones, the museum shelters the State Reserve of Moldova and also a few celebrities’ private collections. It is said that when an important person comes to Moldova, a visit to Cricova Winery is almost always included in the program of that person and as a gift, the celebrity receives a lodge with a private collection of refined wines. Here are lodges that belong to Hitler, Putin, Angela Merkel, Javier Solona, Klaus Iohannis, Joe Biden and many others. The itinerary ends with a memorable tasting in one of the five beautifully arranged tasting rooms or with a shopping session in the underground shop.
In case you decide to visit Cricova Winery, you should know that you need a reservation made with at least one day before your visit. The tickets have different prices depending on the package you choose. For example, you can choose a short or a long tour which include wine tasting and food, or you can choose a more simple package. Regardless of the package you choose, I can assure you that Cricova Winery is worth every penny. If I haven’t convinced you to visit this place, I hope the following pictures will do a better job.