The village of Cotnari is 54km northwest of Iasi. Its nearby vineyards, dating from 1448, are among the most famed in Romania, producing four to six million bottles of sweet white wine a year and exporting to the US, Canada, England, Italy, Spain and Japan, among others. Legend says Stefan cel Mare, someone who undoubtedly knew his wine, described it as ‘wine given by God’.
In the 15th century, French monks arrived in the area, bringing grape stocks, which they planted in the village and by the end of the 19th century Cotnari wine had scooped up prizes at international exhibitions. A half completed and abandoned royal palace, ordered by King Michael I in 1947, was restored in 1966 and today houses Cotnari Winery’s administration.
The winery’s most popular wines include white table wines such as frâncusa (dry), catalina (semisweet), and the sweet, golden grasa and tamâioasa dessert wines.
The Cotnari Winery hosts wine-tasting sessions and tours of its cellars and factory (by appointment only, starting at 12 euros per person). Every year on 14 September, wine connoisseurs converge on Cotnari to get ripped in celebration of the harvest.
From the Cotnari shop in the village, continue briefly on the road towards Botosani and Harlau. Turn left at the Cotnari warehouse, the visitor building is 200m up the road, at the end of a dirt lane on the right.
Three local trains from Iasi to Hârlau stop at Cotnari daily (1 and 3\4 hours). Maxitaxis leave hourly.