The Moldavian underground city of wine

News | 5 days ago and 20 hours | Zukic
A small inland country - Moldova in Eastern Europe - is one of the poorest countries in the old continent. Though there's one thing that fuels the economy of this country, and these are grapes.
The low hills of Moldova, the flat land in the sun, along with flowing streams and two large rivers and also the temperate climate shaped by the Black Sea provide the perfect conditions for grapes cultivation. Wine is the most famous product of Moldova appreciated in the Eastern and Western Europe.
Underground wine cellars from a Cricova vineyard.
The Moldavian underground city of wine
The rich tradition of wine-making in Moldova dates back to thousands of years. The archeological dig suggests that grapes had been cropped here 25 million years ago, whereas grapevine and wine making is at least 4,000 to 5,000 years old. Moldova's wineries have sometimes thousands of hectares of amazingly cultivated grapevines, but the real spectacle is hidden underground.
There's a large underground complex with many tunnels filled with bottled wine, all located in the Mileştii Mici commune. According to Guinness World Records, it's the largest wine collection in the world, with more than 2 million bottles stored in cellars. These stretch for 200 kilometers, though only about 55 kilometers are now used. The tunnels were a part of an old limestone mine. When the mine was closed at the end of the 1960s, the caves in Mileştia Mici were filled with wine. Calcareous stones maintain a constant humidity (85-95%) and low temperature (12-14 ° C) for the whole year - those are perferct conditions for aging of red wine.

The wine cellar is so big that the tunnels were given street names to help people move in them.

The Moldavian underground city of wine
There's also another large network of underground tunnels near the Cricova winery - it has about 120 kilometers. It's the second largest wine cellar in the world with 1.5 million bottles of rare wine, such as the 1902 "Jerusalem of Easter" and a private collection of the Nazi leader Hermann Göring. During the Nazi invasion on the Soviet Union, large wooden barrels from the winery were used to hide Jews inside.

Similar to Mileştii Mici, Cricova's underground tunnels have street names, given after popular wines. There's Cabernet Street, Pinot Noir Street, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Feteasca, Aligote, Muscat Streets and so on. Some of those tunnels are so spacious that even a large truck could go there.
Just until recently one-third of wine exports from Moldova had gone to Russia, but relations with the former communist country worsened after the Moldovan government expressed interest in joining the European Union. Vladimir Putin decided to punish the country, giving a ban on Moldovan wine import, but probably he secretly smuggles bottles for his own needs - after all, Putin has his own nook in the cellars of Cricova - with the most delicate wine. He loves Moldovan wine and his personal cellar so much that he supposedly celebrated his 50th birthday there.

The Moldavian underground city of wine

The cellars from the Cricova vineyard.
The Moldavian underground city of wine


Decorations inside the underground cellars of Cricova.
The Moldavian underground city of wine

A fountain with wine outside the Mileştii Mici winery.
The Moldavian underground city of wine


Tunnels and interior of the Mileştii Mici winery.
The Moldavian underground city of wine