Wine harvest in Gagauzia
Moldova is the 20th largest wine producing country in the world. More than 124,200 tons of wine are made here every year and 67 million bottles are exported to nearly every part of the world. Rumors say that even Barack Obama, the former president of the United States, preferred Moldovan Wine over any other!
Scientists recently found out that the Moldovan people were already cultivating wine 5000 years ago. Ever since then wine production was mostly a family tradition with recipes passed down through the generations.
As one of the main regions for wine production in Moldova is Gagauzia we decided to take part in the traditional grape harvest which usually takes place at the end of summer. The vineyards we visited were just outside Comrat and as soon as we got there we were equipped with big buckets to start collecting the grapes. We solely harvested white grapes as the red ones will only be ripe in a few weeks and after nearly three hours of work we had already accumulated nine huge bags full of sweet, white grapes. We began pressing them into a 500 liter wine barrel and were more than glad to hear that we could use a proper machine for that - only a few years ago Moldovan people used their own feet for this step. The tool used nowadays is handier and less tiring than stamping on the grapes until the juice comes out. You insert the fruit on top, spin the wheel and obtain liters and liters sugar-sweet grape juice. The juice will stay there until the 4th of November, the day of the big wine festival in Comrat. On that day thousands of people will be coming to the Capital of Gagauzia to try different home-made wines and to celebrate the end of the fermentation time of their great drink. The family we made wine with has been producing it for many years now and they are accordingly experienced. They had all the required equipment which can be quite expensive for some people. In Gagauzia it is not usual at all to have vineyards like the ones we visited. Most of the families produce wine in small quantities, just enough to distribute to family members. However, there are some Babushkas who sell their home-made drink at the Bazar. Wine is a big part of their daily life, not only while selling it but also because they drink it to nearly every meal. Many Gagauzians see wine as a cure to different illnesses and a substitute to Western medicine.
After all, Gagauzia has kept the wine production as one of their many traditions and we hope they will continue that way because it is freaking delicious!