Moldova's capital Chisinau is just a three-hour direct flight from London. This route has recently seen an increase in capacity with both the national airline increasing the number of flights and Wizz Air basing a second aircraft at the airport. Wizz Air anticipates a 71% growth from Chisinau in 2019 offering just over 700,000 seats. These operations are still half the size of Air Moldova's which offers 1.57 million seats.[i] These numbers become relevant when one looks at the population of Moldova which is just 3.55 million, meaning the secret may be finally out; Moldova and its capital Chisinau are on the tourist map for those in the know. Chisinau is connected to London Gatwick, London Stansted, London Luton and from this summer London Southend with new FlyOne twice weekly flights.

Filled with unique wine experiences, Winerist (Winerist.com) is the perfect booking platform for those looking for a wine, food and whisky experience on every continent! Winerist is like an encyclopaedia of tried and tested wine and food destinations around the world: 133 wine regions and wine capitals are celebrated on the Winerist platform; the largest online travel specialist for wine and food tours featuring wineries, wine tours, cooking classes, wine hotels and more.

Winerist are promoting and selling breaks to Moldova following an increase in interest and bookings. The wine industry in Moldova accounts for 3.2% of the GDP and 7.5% of Moldova's total exports, employing over 250 thousand citizens at the 140 wine companies. Moldova has the biggest density of vineyards in the world – 3.8% of the country's territory and 7% of the arable land.[ii]  

Chisinau's location at the heart of the country means everywhere is accessible for a day trip. The pace in the city is laid-back but everything here revolves around food and wine. Chisinau has a population of around 700,000 and in 1918 it became Moldova's capital and has been the capital again since 1991. The city was almost destroyed in World War II and has been invaded many times but today its many parks and street festivals make this a warm, exciting and welcoming city. The city combines Stalinist architecture mixed with some brutal modernism from the later Soviet period. Architecture fans will be in paradise as they discover the changing face of a city. More recently cool openings have included Casa Daca Hotel & Wine Bar (see below), Purcari Wine Bar – the first wine bar to boast wines from all local producers and Parol, a new establishment that pairs cocktails and food perfectly. A small yet vibrant art scene also awaits visitors and a great place to start is at Art Gallery Alexander featuring sculptures, oil paintings and jewellery. The Centrul Expozitional Constantin Brancusi is one of the largest galleries in the city with both national and international exhibitions and well worth a visit.

On the map, Moldova looks like a bunch of ripe grapes, which is no coincidence: Moldova has the highest percentage of land dedicated to vineyards in the world. As one of the least visited countries in the world, Moldova will surprise and intrigue visitors at every turn, leaving visitors with unforgettable memories and unique stories to tell friends.

Winerist have just unveiled a new wonderful full day experience that showcases the city and its most popular subject wine. Guests on the 'Private Wine tour visit and tasting at Castel Mimi and Asconi Winery with lunch from Chisinau. 9-hour experience 09.00 – 18.00' tour will start the day with a light walking Chisinau city tour. Being one of the leafiest capital cities in Europe, Chisinau is the country's main tourist destination, with beautiful Orthodox churches, museums and parks offering free wi-fi – a real bonus for any traveller.

Every city has its own lifestyle and if visitors want to feel the real vibes of a city, the best place to discover it are the city markets. Chisinau Central Market is a huge open-air market that occupies several blocks within the city. Since 1825 this market has been the scene of lively price haggling for almost anything, including fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and dairy products. And of course, nothing can compare with the shopping at the market as well as the chatting with the local vendors.

Later, visitors will enjoy a guided tour and wine tasting at Asconi Winery. Founded in 1994, the winery has developed not only the production of high-quality wines, made both from local and European grape varieties like Feteasca, Traminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Franc, Cabernet-Sauvignon, but also created one of the most authentic places to spend time with family and friends. Enjoy lunch at the winery restaurant which preserves the best Moldovan traditions.

In the afternoon, Winerist takes guests to Castel Mimi - listed among the most beautiful architectural masterpieces in the world of wine. The story of the castle begins in 1893 when Constantin Mimi, the last governor of Bessarabia, planted the first grape vines on the place that would become legend over the years.

Although it has been over a century since its founding, Constantin Mimi's winery has preserved its history and traditions that have consecrated it. After the tour of the wines and a wine tasting, visitors will return to Chisinau to Casa Daca.

Moldova has a fragmented relief, with low hills, sunny plateaus and plains, crossed by a lot of streams which flow into the two big rivers, Prut and Dniester. Its climate is moderately-continental with influences from the Black Sea. Located at 46-47˚ latitude, just like other famous wine regions in Europe, the vineyards have a terroir suited for the production of quality red wine, in the southern regions and mainly white wine in the central part of the country.[iii]

Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson's famous book The World Atlas of Wine 7th edition features Moldova: “As a wine producer, Moldova has much going for it: the same latitude as Burgundy, varied and wine-friendly topography, and a climate tempered by the Black Sea (…). Wines are becoming drier and better made.”

Winerist select leading independent hotels to celebrate the Winerist experience (an individual who enjoys wine, food, travel and unforgettable experiences). In Chisinau, Casa Daca is an atmospheric boutique hotel located in the very centre of the city. Launched in 2018 with a desire to treat its guest to the best that Moldova has to offer – hospitality, fresh local food and quality wine. The hotel is home to 17 bedrooms, Den Restaurant offering Balkan cuisine and of course an extensive Moldovan wine list. The hotel's interior design uniquely blends contemporary minimalism and Dacian heritage aesthetics.

In the UK Diana Isac, founder of Winerist recommends the following wines: Sparkling: Cuvée Aleksandr NV - A blanc de blancs, made from 100% Chardonnay, this attractively packaged wine has a rich, toasty style that stands comparison with many a Champagne. RRP £14.49 (or £12.99 in a case of 12). Get it from Laithwaites. White wine fans can enjoy Feteascǎ Regalǎ, Château Vartely 2017 Feteasca, one of Moldova's 'own' grape varieties, comes in various shapes – 'Alba' – white – Regala – princess – and Neagra – black. The Regala is in fact a cross between the Feteasca Alba and another variety, the Grasa and is widely grown because of its appealing floral, white plum and apple flavours – which are very apparent in this unoaked example. RRP £6.25. Get it from The Wine Society. Finally, Red wine fans can enjoy Purcari Rara Negra 2016. Purcari prides itself on selling wine in China and to Berry Bros & Rudd, wine merchants to Buckingham Palace. This is a delicious example of a raspberry-pummy grape that is indigenous to Moldova. Complex and distinctive. RRP on offer £20.20 on Amazon.

Diana comments about discovering Moldova; “No other country in this part of Europe has seen such a rapid growth when it comes to wine tourism and that is largely the responsibility of the assistance we get as a destination from projects such as USAID. But Moldova is a lot about people who feel very connected to wine and to hospitality. Wine is part of our DNA and there is no Moldovan, based abroad or in Moldova who will not want to tell you a great story about our wine, food and about our tiny, yet beautiful, welcoming country!”

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