Stop buying things, start having experiences. Experiential travel begins with the idea that you can fully know a place by immersing in its culture, searching for those less popular places, adventures, and culinary experiences. How about discovering Romania through a wine trip?
“Dealu Mare” region is famous in Romania for the excellent wine it produces. It was famous since ancient times when Dacians lived on the territory that is known today as Romania.
Legend says that one Dacian king, Burebista, decided to destroy all the vineyards in the region to protect the kingdom and its people. Invaders often attacked it because the area was famous for its excellent wine.
Not a coincidence, the place is located on the same coordinates as Bordeaux and Piedmont vineyards, two well-known regions for producing outstanding wine (the 45th parallel north).
The beginning of Budureasca
The first manuscripts date back from 1773 and confirm the existence of vineyards and wine production in the Dealu Mare region. In 1950 a regional IAS was born in Romania (Public Agricultural Enterprise), and it was the starting point of what is today Budureasca winery.
Budureasca winery is born in 2007 and owns 280 hectares of vineyards. The production site and the wine cellar I visited date from 2012. From 280 hectares of vineyards, 30 hectares are almost 70 years old (imagine that the root of the vine is 15 meters deep). This is an essential detail because old vinery produces better and more complex wine.
How is the wine produced?
When I visited the site, everyone was preparing for the harvest – the “campaign” as they call it. That means the staff was sanitizing and cleaning all the equipment to be ready for the grapes’ arrival.
At Budureasca, they do the harvesting manually as they wish to respect as much as possible the tradition. Even if the actual building has a modern architecture, it is buried 2 meters underground. In this way, they expose the wines to natural low temperature and moisture in the cellar.
The production process starts with removing the grains from the bunch, then they are sorted on different sizes in other equipment, and then they are pressed. This process happens outside of the building.
The must goes through a pipeline system into the building for further processing. This system allows the temperature of the wort to remain constant. The total production capacity of Budureasca winery is 3 million liters of wine annually.
In the vineyard, they plant roses at the end of the rows. Because they are very aromatic, roses will attract pests first. When we observe that, we have the time to act and treat the vine before it gets sick.
I also found out that grapes used for producing wine are harvested during the night. This happens because only during the night, they enter the process at the right temperature.
The wort arrives in the building, where they inoculate it with yeast, and then the fermentation process begins.
Different wines, different practices
Fermentation time depends on the type of wine, and it can last between 8 and 16 days. White grapes are the first being harvested. Their fermentation temperature is low, around 17-18 degrees. This is why the fermentation period lasts longer than for the red wines.
Red grapes are harvested during September, and their fermentation temperature is higher than for the white grapes, around 28 degrees. We expect the red wine to be more robust and have a strong taste and so the fermentation temperature is higher.
At Budureasca winery, we will find white, rose and red wines, but also sparkling wine. The latter is subject to a different process than the rest. Here again, they use the traditional production method for sparkling wine, using a gyropalette. The last fermentation takes place inside the bottle.
The wine is stored in wooden barrels. The wood source is also significant as it can imprint the wine with a particular scent. While I was in the cellar, I could sense a subtle scent above the barrels’ area.
Interesting fact: The sweet wines result from stopping the fermentation process, and so more sugars remain in the drink. Dropping the temperature level very fast stops the fermentation.
The complexity of the process amazed me. I never thought about it each time I went to the supermarket and bought a bottle of wine. Everything is carefully studied, every step of the process has tremendous importance and can add value or ruin the wine.
Unfortunately, I could not also do wine-tasting because I was driving. But indeed, this visit made me curious and eager to find out more. I would love to participate in a wine-themed trip and make a tour of several wineries in the area.
Wine tourism in Romania
The truth is that Romania has many areas that are generous when it comes to wine tourism. “Dealu Mare” region is home for many wineries like Budureasca and luxurious mansions that can accommodate tourists and provide a one of a kind experience.
I am not a specialist when it comes to wines. And it is difficult for me to understand the complex language sometimes used in this field. So when I arrived at Ferma Dacilor, I had some free time and didn’t know what wineries I could see in the area. So I called my friend Carmina Nitescu.
Carmina is a business consultant, a passionate entrepreneur in the tourism industry. This year she launched Winesday.ro, a project entirely dedicated to the Romanian wine industry and tourism.
“The story of the wine lies both in the glass and especially in the cellar where it was created. By visiting the winery, you can see the vineyard and see how the wine is produced and how many things are taken into account from the moment the grapes are ripe until they reach the winery, and then they transform into wine. At the same time, you have the opportunity to talk to the oenologist or to someone who knows those wines very well and who can also make recommendations.”Carmina Nitescu, Wine Adventurer
Today Carmina is writing about wines on Winesday.ro. She is also organizing wine tastings events and wine-themed trips. Winesday.ro was born out of a desire to make the sometimes pretentious wine language more accessible and easier to understand.
What do you think about these themed trips? Are you curious about trying one?