Moldova: More Wine Please!

January 29, 2009

In rural Moldova , growing grapes in the front yard is commonplace. In fact, making one's own wine in Moldova is not just a hobby – it is something of a national pastime. Yet while Moldovan wines are well known in the former Soviet Union , the country's vintages do not yet have the full recognition they deserve on the wider international scene.

That may soon change. The Moldovan Government's Competitiveness Enhancement Project (CEP), co-financed by the World Bank and the Government of Japan, is helping local producers to get internationally recognized quality certificates, and to develop national standards compatible with EU norms. The objective is to boost the ability of Moldovan products to compete internationally, especially in the EU market. In parallel, the project aims to reduce regulatory barriers to business start up and development, so that would be entrepreneurs can more easily see their ideas flourish.

" It's getting easier to do business in Moldova. Over the past seven years, the time it takes to go into business has been reduced by two thirds. A new set of standards will make it easier for Moldovan business to compete not only in Europe , but worldwide, and will ensure products of comparable quality. "

Victor Burunsus

Private Sector Development Specialist with the World Bank's Moldova office

Chateau Vartely is a Moldovan winery that employs 350 people, exports to more than 20 countries, and produces over 1 million bottles each year. Conforming to international quality management standards has meant that business here is much better now, but it used to be more of a struggle to export their product.

“In the former Soviet Union , we used to apply the Soviet standards and norms, which over 10-15 years didn't evolve very much. When we started exporting our wines to European countries, it turned out we couldn't because the quality was too low,” said Arcadie Fosnea, Director of Technical Operations for Chateau Vartely. “It was totally worth it to have the international quality standards. When the inspectors were here, there was little they could object to.”

In addition to being a Guinness World Record holder for the world's longest cellar (they have 55 km of tunnels), Milestii Mici is a competing winery that makes between 40 and 50 different wines for export every year.

They have benefitted from targeting European markets for export, but the progress can be slow going at times because Moldovan wines aren't well known. Despite this, sales staff are optimistic. Sales are picking up, and they have already covered the cost of changing to meet the international quality standards.

The project does not just benefit wineries. Other companies that are doing better because of the project have exports as diverse as dried fruits, software, canned goods, carpets, and meat and dairy products. By making easier for businesses to grow and export, the CEP project is helping to create jobs and ultimately, reduce poverty.