Imagine entering 200 km long wine cellar with your own car and Moldavian sexy guide sitting just next to you and telling the story of the winery. You feel like it is a labirynth of underground wine streets. Sounds great already? Fast your seat belt, the adventure in Milestii Mici has just begun! Along the limestone walls you see huge 2 000 litters capacity barrels filled with wine. Driving around few kilometers takes you to lower gallery where bottled wine mature. You see 2 million of bottles of this holy juice all around you! Mind blowing! Guide showing you hidden cellar which was used in Soviet times to store precious wines in secret, impossible to detect room. Don’t get too excited because you haven’t arrived to wine tasting yet!
Welcome in Underground Kingdom of Wine!
Moldova is a little country in Eastern Europe which is proudly announcing to be “open doors in the paradise of wine”. Truly tempting slogan, that’s why I came, right? Moldova is the least visited country in Europe but hiding Mileștii Mici which is the Guinness World Record as the biggest wine collection in the world. I bet you didn’t expect that!
Milestii Mici was founded in 1969 to store, preserve and mature high-quality wines. In fact, now only 55 km of tunnels are used from 200 km used during all Soviet times…
Milestii Mici is an old mine which became a winery
Enormous limestone mine started to be used as a winery due to it’s perfect conditions. Constant temperature in the cellars is 12 – 14°C and relative humidity of 85-95% (so don’t forget pullover). Those ideally contribute to storage those precious bottles and barrels. Yummy! From all over the country here were brought the wines from the years of the best harvest and were stored for maturation. At the moment Mileştii Mici has their own wine, but also purchases grapes from other companies, depending on their geographic location, to produce a certain kind of wine.
Overall, the complex holds nearly 2 million bottles called Golden Collection. More than 70% of the stored wines are red, 20% are white and about 10% are dessert wines. The most valuable items of this collection, worth €480 a bottle, were produced in 1973–74; they are now exported only to Japan (God I didn’t expect Japanese appreciate wine that much!). The wines stored here are made from crops of various years, beginning with 1969: “Pinot”, “Traminer”, “Muscat”, “Riesling”, “Feteasca”, “Dnestrovscoie”, “Milestscoie”, “Codru”, “Negru de Purcari”, “Trandafirul Moldovei”, “Auriu”, “Cahor-Ciumai”, and others which I found out but have no idea about. Maybe you do?
Wine cellar produces one million bottles per year. Wines are exported to Sweden, Japan, USA, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Poland, Greece, Germany, Denmark, Finland, and China. The last one seems to be the biggest drinker of it which totally surprised me. Aren’t they drinking just sake and other rice alcohols? Just joking.
The interesting thing is that you can rent a niche for cost of 200 USD per year to store wine and sell it more expensive later. Sounds like a plan!
Let’s finally talk about tasting
Wine tasting comes in the end of the tour. Milestii Mici provides variety of ticket options from simple tasting of few kinds and Moldavian snacks to huge feasts. We chose the most simple option which included 3 different table wines (red, white and dessert table wine) plus some freshly baked pastries and regular crackers or snacks. Normally you think wine tasting is a glass filled with a drop of wine called 1 dcl. In Milestii Mici we got 3 jugs fulfilled with wine! Unbelievable! Even though we are Polish, we couldn’t finish those in a short time given. Sadly, because wine was absolutely perfect! All these goodies with accompaniment of folk musicians which will surely know some music pieces from your country.
Tasting room is very elegant with shiny decorations, I would call it trashy but I was tough to don’t question someone’s taste. We were told that this room was originally hidden behind the rock and opened with a secret button. Room like that was kept for important people, obviously. The legend says that Putin has his own secret cellar with wine in Milestii Mici, but don’t tell anyone.
Hop in your car and come to Moldova
It is recuired that you come by car to visit the winery. If you fly to Moldova you will have to rent a taxi. Rememer also to leave one place in the car for a sexy guide. Outside of the winery, apart from the fountains gushing with red and white wine (fake, but we tried just in case) is a SHOP! You can purchase delicious wines from very cheap (but still good) to high class as the Japanese dare.
With our trunk full of bottles we were stopped on the border control. The officer seriously asked about certain kind of wine looking at our storage. We proudly said “No, we don’t have this one” thinking that ufff… we have just skipped the punishment. Then he burst out laughing as he managed to make this serious joke again and said that we should definitely go and buy it because it is so good and we have the last chance before crossing…
Hardly (times million) recommended to visit this great winary!