Wine making and viticulture site

Constantin Olaru: “Moldova has to return to the markets of champagne and wine”

“Only you, me and “Vismos”…” This romantic but unobtrusive slogan from the advertisement hoarding is familiar to many people in Moldova. But it is already the renewed face of the enterprise: since 2002, “Vismos” has been one of the enterprises included into the “Aroma” firm. On the whole, the Joint Venture Chisinau Factory of Sparkling and Vintage Wines “Vismos” JSC is one of the oldest in the republic. It was founded in 1944.

InfoMarket.MD found out about the “new age” of the renewed “Vismos” from the enterprise’s director general Constantin Olaru.

– InfoMarket.MD: Even though the year of 2003 came to the end long time ago, let’s still talk about its results. What was the last year marked by for the enterprise?

– It was the year of reconstruction for us – of the factory, of our main productions. It is stipulated by the investment program. Rearrangement and re-equipment of the champagne production and our branch in the village of Moscovei (Cahul region) for processing of grapes was the first stage.

First, the champagne production was launched since the orders for champagne were “urged”. Until the last year, there were two workshops bottling champagne, two – for glass containers, two – finished commodity at the enterprise. Now, it is one object uniting all operations – the modern, powerful, and high-tech workshop. The full reorganization took only four months. Last September, we started bottling champagne. Till the end of the year, we produced 1450 thousand bottles of champagne, 1300 thousand of bottles of which were delivered on the demand of our shareholders – “Aroma” firm.

The wine production workshop was also reconstructed. Wine has been bottled in it since February. In the village of Moscovei, everything had to be done practically starting from zero. The most modern equipment was purchased and 2 thousand tones of grapes were already processed last season. The program was very tensed but we fulfilled it and worked out the wine materials the quality of which suits us. They cost cheaper than those that we would have to buy. In addition, it is a stock of the programmed quality…

Probably, these are our main achievements of the last year.

– What is the volume of investments made?

– Well, the investments planned according to the investment program for five years – $5.5 mln. – have practically been made in full last year.

– … and the volumes of the production?

– It is necessary to take into account that the work was carried out only in the last three months of the year. But in the value terms, we produced and sold champagne more than for the whole year of 2002 – by 23.5 mln. lei.

– Mr. Olaru, what other points of the enterprise development program would you call as priorities?

– Planting of vineyards, of course. The enterprise development strategy stipulates planting of 500 hectares of vineyards. We have already started realizing this point. Last autumn, we prepared the lands, put fertilizers on 75 hectares of lands in the village of Chetrosi, purchased the whole necessary equipment. That is, a new enterprise was practically established. We rented 300 hectares of land in this populated locality.

Earlier, “Vismos” didn’t deal with the primary winemaking and it didn’t have vineyards. The idea is that the enterprise will turn into a holding with time that will have its vine plantations. 500 hectares of vineyards are on the level of 5 thousand tones of grapes a year. 200 hectares of vineyards are planned to be planted in Moscovei. We have the grapes processing workshop there and the analogous production is projected with the factory in Chisinau. Thus, the whole process, from the vine till the bottle will take place on the place.

– What is the foreign market’s reaction at the production manufactured by the “Vismos”?

– It can be evaluated as quite favorable. The reorganization concerned not only the technical side of the enterprise. The high manufacturability and high quality of production is the principle. We took the Italian and French champagne as a basis, as samples, and planned a number of concrete actions to raise the quality. The totality of the whole number of technological methods enabled us to raise the plank of production’s quality at once.

For the home market, we kept the brands of champagne that have already been produced – “Vismos”, “Moldova”, “Chisinau”, “National”. And for the “Aroma” Firm, on their demand, we developed the new kinds of champagne in the series of “Surprise Champagne”. It is a whole range of production, and the work at the new kinds of this series is going on. Everything in it is principally new – labels, design… In addition to the “Soviet Champagne” that has remained, we have started promoting the “Surprise Champagne” series to the Russian market. With the high quality, reasonable price and correct promotion, it is successfully sold, sales volume are growing. Last year, we bottled 1 mln. 450 thousand bottles, the program for this year plans 2 mln. 300 thousand bottles of champagne.

– That is, it is your main production?

– Yes. But we are going to expand the wine production too. The quality of the last year’s wine materials enabled to select a part and lay them for ripening of the vintage wine – “Souvignon”, “Chardonnay”, “Merlot”, and “Cabernet”. It is a kind of our debut. So, in a couple of years, “Vismos” will present its own vintage wines. By the way, we used to bottle vintage wines, but they were produced at other enterprises, they were aged there and the ready wine was brought to be bottled. Now, we are creating our own full technological process: production of grapes, its processing, ageing, ripening and bottling of the mature vintage wines.

– By what wines can “Vismos” please the market?

– We have two series – white and red dry wines “Roua de Argint” and the series of half-sweet wines “Vismos Magic” that are in a keen demand in the Russian market. And this is only the beginning. Last year, “Cagor” of a very high quality, the sweet wine, was produced. It was bottled a month ago and is being successfully sold now.

By the way, in the contest of the young wines within the framework of the “VinMoldova” exhibition, our “Merlot” and “Cagor” won medals. I believe it is a good sign in favor of the direction chosen by us.

– Is “Vismos” going to launch production of stronger drinks than champagne and wine?

– This point of our development program remains, but for the future. Today, we have to achieve at least the level of more than 50% as to the development of capacities for wine and champagne. We have to regain the market of champagne and wine. Simultaneously, it is connected with great investments, other, alternative directions of alcoholic drinks production will be developing but, I emphasize that it is the matter of the future.

– In your opinion, is there a special formula of success of a wine enterprise?

– It is simple: to improve quality. The prestige of the Moldovan winemaking may be real, our production may be competitive in the European markets only with the high quality of the production. But it is not easy.

I am one of the authors of the Viticulture Development Program of Moldova till the year of 2020. Establishment of wine holdings was stipulated as one of the guarantees of success of the Moldovan winemaking in this Program. Planting of the principally new vine plantations should be added to it. Everything started from 500 hectares a year in the republic, this year already 2500 hectares are planned. And it is very considerable. Yes, we are short of the planting stock, but the matter of nurseries is being solved. The best clones, the best sorts – Chardonnay, Peno, Sauvignon, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlo – are imported…

And the matter concerns not only our enterprise. There is a number of others – “Acorex-Wine”, “Dionis-Club”, “Lion Gri”, “Imperial Vin”…I am very pleased that a healthy competition is developing. I have been a member of the contest commission for more than 12 years and trust me, every year, and especially at the end of the last and at the beginning of this year, it is getting more and more crowded, more samples of the high class are appearing at the “VinMoldova. It has become difficult to win medals as new enterprises producing high-quality production are developing. Foreign markets gradually begin recognizing us as a country-producer of wine of the high level.

I can say that the interest of investors willing to invest in the wine branch is great. And I am sure than the republic will make a serious spurt in this direction within the next few years. We have a lot of unused areas and from the point of view of profitability, wine-growing is one of the most promising and prestigious.