Wine has a long history in the Dobrogea region of Romania, even as far back as the time of Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso (43 i.H-17 d. H.), who was the first to mention the viticultural activity in this area. Historical records show that wine has always been produced in Romania and that this wine was highly appreciated in other countries.
Between the 14th and 19th centuries there was a lot of migration of local wines between the Romanian principalities and the neighbouring countries. Many foreign types of wine were brought to the country during this period. For instance, during the Ottoman occupation, breeds like Afuz Ali, Ceauș alb, Ceauș roz, Razachie albă, Razachie roșie, Sultanină etc. were imported. This contributed to the enrichment of an already vast offer of wines.
But Romanian viticulture received a powerful blow in the second half of the 19th century that came in the form of a phylloxera invasion. Phylloxera is a parasite from North America that destroys the root and leaves of vines. As a result of this, many Romanian breeds were irrecoverably lost. Some of the few that still survive today are Fetească albă, Fetească regală, Grasă de Cotnari, Galbenă de Odobești, Zghihară de Huși, Frâncușă, Crâmpoșie (for white wines); Fetească neagră, Băbească neagră (for red wines) and Tămâioasă românească and Busuioacă de Bohotin (for flavoured wines).
In 1907, in an effort to recover the lost vines, specialists planted over 10 hectares with French breeds like Chardonnay, Clairette, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Folle Blanche and Malvoisie. George Nicoleanu and Vasile Brezeanu thought that the weather and soil conditions in Dobrogea were similar to those in the French region of Champagne and consequentially, decided to create a centre for the production of sparkling wines at Murfatlar Vineyard. But the conditions proved less favourable to sparkling wines than to sweet and semi-sweet wines, which is why they subsequently decided to channel their efforts towards these types of wine. And sure enough, they were a huge success on the international market.
Today, the Murfatlar Vineyard covers 3.000 hectares, along the Danube-Black Sea Canal. The quality of Murfatlar Wines is firstly a result of the breeds of grapes cultivated here and secondly, of the auspicious climate conditions of the area. The continental climate with warm summers, long autumns and few precipitations ensures a long exposure to warmth and sunlight. The dry, calcareous soil and the closeness to the Black Sea are also big factors in the creation of high quality wines.
“Istoric”, Organizaţia Naţională Interprofesională Vitivinicolă, Available at: http://www.oniv.ro/page.php?id=321&info=398, Accessed: 09.02.2015.
Onogea, Andreea, “VITICULTURĂ ROMÂNEASCĂ: Podgoria Murfatlar”, Agerpres, July 22nd 2015, Available at: http://www.agerpres.ro/flux-documentare/2015/07/22/viticultura-romaneasca-podgoria-murfatlar-11-18-16, Accessed: 09.02.2015.
Onogea, Andreea, “DOCUMENTAR Istoricul viței-de-vie în epoca modern”, Agerpres, October 2nd 2014, Available at: http://www.agerpres.ro/flux-documentare/2014/10/02/documentar-istoricul-vitei-de-vie-in-epoca-moderna-10-31-26, Accessed: 09.02.2015.