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Friday, September 24, 2004
Romania has held its first official wine-tasting event, laid on for a party of Japanese wine buyers.
In communist times, Romania was the sixth largest wine-producer in Europe, but buyers were lured by the cheap price, not the high quality.
Now Romania is pulling out all the stops to put itself back on the international wine map, hoping that within five years the country's Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon will be internationally recognised.
"This is to promote our producers and to make contracts for them," Lucica Sticlaru from the Romanian Foreign Trade Centre said of the country's wine tasting event.
Alice Gregorescu, director of Dutch-backed Vinterra, is honest about the country's image.
"Romania was selling wines due to the fact that they were rather cheap. This was the main reason. Quality was not so important but price was very important and we were in the very low category of prices for many many years," she said.
The good news is that European business people are queuing up to take advantage of Romania's wine-making potential.
Nicolae David, Vinterra's manager, said foreign investors like the excellent soil and the climate.
They are also attracted by the price of land.
"To expand in France is tremendously difficult because the cost of one hectare of vineyard is tremendous - it reaches $100,000 per hectare.
The younger generation in Germany or Holland can also find it difficult to acquire land.
However, newcomers will not only face stiff competition from other Eastern European wines, but also have to battle Romanian bureaucracy.
Philip Cox from Vintners Transylvanian says the government should sort out Romania's bureaucracy.
"We have up to 1,000 people working for us when we pick the grapes and we have to take the paperwork to the tax authorities in a truck.
"It means I have to have about two or three people who only deal with bureaucracy all the time," he said.
Western supermarket shelves already groan under the weight of wine from established countries.
"We need more consistent products - with a group of 10 or 15 producers, private producers with perfect quality price ratio on their products," said Mihaela Badea, director of Romania's first private winery, SERVE - set up with French money.
Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/24/2004 01:54:00 pm
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