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Moldovan Wine Conquers the World

Reports of the advance of Moldovan wine and cognac to new markets, signing of profitable long-term contracts with respectable Western companies appear every day. Just this year they opened firms, which offer mainly alcoholic drinks, in Turkey and Czech Republic. For the first time the wine is exported to Japan. The connoisseurs of the amber-colored drink in England, the USA, Holland, and Sweden buy more Moldovan wine now. Not to mention Poland, Slovenia, Hungary, and China, which Moldovan wine “conquered” long ago.

So what is it, a mass “invasion” of Moldovan alcoholic products of the world market or only a local advance yet. It is very difficult to give a single answer to this question. Certainly, the geography of the delivery of Moldovan alcoholic products expands every year. According to “Moldova-vin” Department, Moldovan wine and cognac are delivered into 28 countries of the world today. Experts record a progressive increase in exports to the markets of Great Britain, Germany, Israel, and Poland. Besides Japan, in 2003 they started to deliver alcoholic drinks to Azerbaidjan, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates.

It might seem that “the process has started” and the day when we inundate the entire Europe and even a part of the rest of the world with our wine is not far away. But in the reality we are still far from it. Indeed, exports to the prestigious markets of the leading Western states increase. In spite of the positive dynamics, the volume of exports is still very small. According to the same “Moldova-vin” Department, 97.4 per cent of the total volume of wine exported by Moldova in 2003 fall to the share of CIS countries. The greatest volumes of export fall to the share of Russia (80.5 per cent), Belarus (8 per cent), Ukraine (6.8 per cent), and Kazakhstan (1.2 per cent).

According to the experts, two main conditions are necessary for a stable increase in the sales of Moldovan wine in the Western markets: a stable quality and an active marketing. A lot of people are sure that at the present there are no problems with either of them. The quality of the exhibition samples of Moldovan wine and cognac do amaze a lot of potential buyers. But after signing of trial contracts they become quite often disappointed and then it is very difficult to convince them that it is possible to make a successful business on Moldovan alcoholic drinks. As far as marketing is concerned, a number of wine-producers regard it as taking part in diverse exhibitions and presentations. Indeed, it is necessary and effective. But such events just provide an opportunity for “an acquaintance” with our wine. In order to advance into a market and stabilize sales, it is necessary to carry out a major advertising campaign, to find a reliable partner, to ensure that our wine is permanently present in the shops that are the most popular among buyers, etc.

I Will Appeal to a personal example. Recently I was lucky to do internship in the USA, Kentucky. The scenery of the state, its climate, and many of the habits and preferences of the inhabitants are similar to those of Moldova. Although, the majority of local inhabitants prefer the famous local whisky to wine. Several groups of interns from Moldova had already visited Louisville, the town we stayed in, before. And by common efforts we got the local inhabitants acquainted with Moldovan wine and cognac. It is worth saying that they were delighted with them. That is why they are wondering: why do their shops have wine from all over the world except from Moldova? But at the same time, one of the Americans who had visited Russia and bought Moldovan wine with a familiar label, said he was disappointed: the contents of the bottle did not correspond to his previous conception.

Experts do not have to explain what a stable quality means. It is when “Cabernet” of the same producer has the same taste regardless of where and when it was bought; when quality and taste do not change very much due to the climate, yield, and other factors; when buyers, who know well the flavoring characteristics of a drink, always get what they expect.

Two things are necessary in order to achieve a stable quality: to observe all the technological standards and to have permanent “carry-over remains”. The latter means that a good wine-producer always keeps in store certain reserves of wine raw materials to mix them with those from the new harvest. Unfortunately, while there are no problems with the introduction of new technologies and observance of quality standards any more, the “carry-over remains” for the majority of our wine-makers are still a luxury.

But in spite of it all, we should recognize that the quality of Moldovan wine grows more stable and predictable. When buying a bottle of good wine in a respectable shop even in Moldova, there are fewer chances to get a blunt falsification that was something common five years ago. For many of Moldovan wine-makers, the prestige and reputation of the firm start to play the deciding part both on internal and external markets. And it is always easier to promote a “brand”.

The examples of Moldovan companies actively promoting their products to the new markets speak for themselves. For instance, at the beginning of November the Director of a Belgian company “Master Winemakers”, Mark Shittecat, stated at a press-conference in Chisinau that they had made test sales of wine produced by “Cricova-Acorex” in their chain of supermarkets (160 shops) and were very pleased with the results. He said the quality of Moldovan wine was not inferior to the Italian or French and cheaper, although its price in Belgium is 4 Euro per bottle. Whereas in 2003 “Master Winemakers” imported about 50 thousand bottles of wine produced by “Cricova-Acorex”, it intends to increase the volume of wine delivery to 1.5 million bottles in the future. “Dionisos-Mereni”, “Kazaiac”, “Basvinex”, “Aurvin”, “Bostavan”, “Lion-Gri”, and many other producers start promoting not only their wine, but “brands” into the new markets. That is why, in spite of the fact that the volume of deliveries to Western markets is not very big, we are already known there. And this is something.