Romania’s Viticulture Renaissance

Highlighting women winemakers at the heart of Europe

Lorena Deaconu Stoian

Romania can count back in millennia, when it comes to experience in wine making; in fact it has one of the world’s oldest winemaking traditions and is even one of the world’s largest producers.

So, it is no wonder there are world-class wines being produced there every day, buoyed now by greater awareness, which has been gradually increasing over the last decade. This renaissance in Romanian wine can be, in part, attributed to future-focused producers such as the Alexandrion Group’s – Domeniile Alexandrion Rhein 1892 Winery and the team behind their portfolio of superior wines, headed by Lorena Deaconu Stoian, Oenologist & Chief Winemaker.

She cites new vineyards, grape varieties and investments in modern technology, alongside oenologists who have acquired the right training and gathered years of expert knowledge in winemaking, as the most striking changes in the development of wine production in Romania in recent years.

In the month of International Women’s Day, it seems apt that Lorena Deaconu-Stoian is heading to London as part of a group of female producers from the Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) region, proud and excited to be showcasing the wines of the region at the ‘Women Winemakers at the Heart of Europe’ event at 67 Pall Mall.

The trade and media function has been organised by Caroline Gilby (Master of Wine) who is a champion of both CEE wines and the many women behind their production, especially in a region traditionally skewed towards male oenologists: Gilby states in a recent interview about the CEE region:“these countries have it all to offer – a long and authentic wine history, modern winemaking, good quality and great personal stories”.

When Lorena Deaconu Stoian comes to London for the Women Winemakers event she will be bringing with her the Hyperion Exclusive Wines of ‘Fetească Neagră’, ‘Tămâioasă Românească’ and ‘Chardonnay’. Also being presented at the event will be ‘Concert Prestige Rosé’ (a Fetească Neagră blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz & Cabernet Franc) and ‘Rhein Extra Rosé Brut’ (Sparkling Wine); the latter has a regal connection as it has been the official supplier to the Romanian Royal family since 1904 and continues to have this unique position, being present at the most important royal events

Having had the chance to make wine both in Romania, in large and small wineries all over the country, and abroad – in the USA (California), Australia, France, Chile – I did my best to blend the wines very well and to find a good balance between a classic winemaking style and a modern one.”

This experience has allowed Deaconu Stoian to bring new ideas back to Romania and projects that she has implemented in all the wineries, countrywide, that she has had the chance to work for, throughout her career.

But, no matter if they are classic or modern, wines must have a certain character: they must be very fruity, clean and balanced. They should also result from very healthy and well-regulated grape harvests. As I usually say: a healthy grape and a well sanitized winery makes more than 70% of the wine quality. The rest is the oenologist’s skills that bring out the complexity and finesse of a wine, residing from the maturation and not from vigorous treatments that could lead to a significant change in the profile of the bottled wine.” Deaconu Stoian continued.

What is exciting is that there is so much scope to grow the Romanian market, with their domestic grape varieties, headlined by Fetească Neagră, which is classed as the jewel of Romanian indigenous grapes. This alone makes the event well worth exploring, especially under the expert tutelage of Lorena Deaconu- Stoian and other contemporaries, who are definitely helping to define a new era and course for Romanian and other CEE regional wines.

Interview with Lorena Deaconu Stoian:

Question 1
What have been the biggest changes and improvements in winemaking that have taken place in Romania in recent years?

New vineyards, varieties and clone, new wineries and investments in new technology, good oenologists with good education and knowledge in winemaking.

Question 2
Tell me about each of the wines you are bringing for sampling?

We have over there Hyperion Exclusive wines), such as Fetească Neagră, Tămâioasă Românească, Chardonnay, Concert Prestige Rosé (rose blend made from 4 varieties that we have on the vineyard – Fetească Neagră, Cabernet Sauvingnon, Shiraz and Cabernet Franc) and Rhein Extra Rosé Brut (sparkling wine).

Question 3
Why are you so passionate about viticulture in Romania?

I am passionate about both, winemaking and viticulture in general, and working very closely with our very good viticulturists in order to obtain the best grapes to be able to make best wine. I cannot imagine myself doing something else. My wines are like my personal creations and even my kids. Nurturing and taking care of them throughout the process.

Every year provides big challenges, the wine does not follow the same formula, so we have to be adaptive and be creatively astute for every new vintage.

Question 4
You talk about blending the wines and finding the right balance between a classic winemaking style and a modern, what do you exactly mean by this?

Wines are very sensitive and complex products. Starting with the grapes, making the primary vinification, blending, maturation and bottling must be done with care and passion. Thus being able to keep it ‘alive’ as long as possible with enough expression, fruity, integrated with a balanced structure, acidity, tannins.

Question 5
You also have referred to the character of a wine which you see as essential, but why is that, can you expand on that a little more?

The character of the wines comes from the grapes, but also from the winery and of course the work of the winemaker’s abilities and even a little of their personality. In my opinion, the wine must be clean, representing the character of each grape variety, a nice and gentle maturation (tank or barrels), a ripe fruitiness, rounded on the palate and a lingering after taste

Question 6
Is the opportunity to be involved in this CEE Women Winemakers in the heart of Europe, important for you to showcase Romania, Romanian Wine & greater opportunities for women in this sector?

I am proud to be invited to the CEE Women Winemakers. I consider it a sign of recognition not just in Romania but also abroad. After more than 25 years working in this field, trying very hard to bring my best in Romanian winemaking, this means a lot.

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