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“Black Sheep” of Moldovan Wine-making

Moldovan wine-makers will have more trouble soon. As the Russian press reports, the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia prepares to introduce a pre-shipment inspection of imported alcoholic drinks. It foresees the quality control of the imported wines and authenticity control of the declared facts. As for the second aspect, it is not a particularly dreadful requirement as any customs thoroughly examines the authenticity of facts. But if the wine quality control “at entry” is introduced, Moldovan wine-makers will have bad times. We have to remind that two thirds of the total export volume of Moldovan wine output goes the Russian market. Thus, the new terms will influence the activity of practically every wine-making enterprise in our Republic, even if they do not have to worry about the quality of their product. First of all, there is no doubt that the exporters will bear extra expenses on expertise. Secondly, the attempt to introduce pre-shipment inspection in Moldova showed that it quite often lead to delivery failure and load registration delay.

Moscow has worried bout the quality of Moldovan wines sold on the Russian market for a long time. According to the testing carried out by the State Trade Inspection, 7% of Moldovan wine samples did not meet the requirements of the Russian State Standard. But there is another aspect of this problem. There has been a long discussion between the parties: whether poor quality wines are supplied directly from Moldova or, using our wine trade mark, tradesmen try to sell off counterfeit product made in Russia.

A special conference with the pretentious name “Wine Industry-2004. Moldova – is there future?” held in summer this year, where experts from both countries took part in, was dedicated to searching the answers to this question. The topic of one of the plenary sessions “Is the Wine Market of Moldova a hostage of the Negative Reputation?” tells about the acuteness and direction of the discussion. Naturally, the majority of wine-makers of our Republic who participated in the conference angrily rejected even a hint of a possibility of a positive answer to this question. The honoured wine-maker of Moldova and France Gheorghii Cozub thinks that in spite of some quality problems with wines supplied to Russia in the beginning of the 90s, when there was a mass interest in the new-fashioned names of dubious wines, Moldova has gained the lost positions very quickly. Moreover, in his opinion, the quality of Moldovan wines has noticeably improved within the last years as a result of huge investments into modern technologies and equipment and planting of quality vineyards.

On the one hand, one cannot help agreeing with this well-known scientist and wine-maker expert. The fact that the lion’s share of the invested into Moldovan wine-making within the last years capital came namely from Russia is an evidence of the demand and good prospects of Moldovan wines on the Russian market. But one cannot deny the presence of definite quality problems of Moldovan wine-making product supplied abroad. We have been speaking about Moldovan wines image promoting on foreign markets, purposeful advertising, and export product quality control for many years. But what has been done specifically to resolve these issues? It is true: the majority of wine-makers of Moldova take care of their brand and good name, improve technologies, buy new equipment, and try to make the quality of drinks as well as concomitant accessories better But do we not have firms in our country that long for making as much money as possible at any price, including selling poor quality product?

There is a saying: a black sheep spoils the herd. The same happens with Moldovan wines. We should be fully aware that five companies neglecting requirements of quality and respectability in work may invalidate the efforts of fifty and more companies that work for producing quality product. In the opinion of many specialists from Moldova, the state and wine-makers should develop together an effective mechanism for export wine control that would make impossible poor quality product supply even by one producer and in small volume.

Moldovan experts are unanimous in their opinion: no one can disturb our positions on the Russian market, if only it is not done by us. Thus, actively supported by the “Moldova-Vin” Department and the Moldovan Wines Exporters Union at the recent exhibition “Moldova presents” in Moscow, there were negotiations with official representatives from Russia on organizing at the intergovernmental level an Expert Council consisting of the most authoritative specialists from both parties that would operatively resolve all emerging issues of wine trading and create favourable conditions for that. Besides, “Moldova-Vin” intends to take the quality of export product under strict control in order to stop the unprincipled suppliers from spoiling the image of Moldovan wines and pushing our trade partners to such measures as pre-shipment quality inspection.

Another important constituent part of this work should include the active state position in protecting trade marks of well-known Moldovan wines and cognacs abroad. For the first time the state budget for 2004 designed 1.2 million lei for trade marks promotion and protection. The draft budget for the next year provides for the same sum. This has let “Moldova-Vin” win the legal case in Germany and win back the trade marks “Belii Aist” and “Codru” for the state and the trade mark “Basarabia” for Aroma. Court cases have been initiated in the Baltic States and the USA. “Belii Aist” has been recently registered in Russia, as well as some known wine trade marks. In the opinion of experts, this enhances the prestige of Moldovan alcoholic product, as well as allows engaging the states where they are registered in protection of these trade marks and falsification control.