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From Bristol to Romania: How an Englishman became a key figure in Romania's burgeoning wine industry

Published:  21 June, 2016

When Philip Cox left Bristol for Romania in the early 1990s, little did he imagine that a quarter of a century later he would be the co-owner of the most profitable winery in Romania.

Cramele Recas, which currently produces 13 million litres of wine a year, hides the tale of an adventurous Englishman who quickly mastered Romanian, married a Bucharest girl and became one of the key figures in the country's burgeoning wine industry.

One of his highest vineyards is around 300 metres above sea-level near Timisoara in western Romania, where Recas' Selene Feteasca Negra is produced.

"It's meant to be the most famous Romanian variety, being 2,000 years old, " Cox said. "It's available for around £14 in the UK, but is the equivalent of £25 in Romania, as wine is more expensive here."

Although domestic demand in Romania is very high, Recas export about 50% of their wine.

They do so to 27 different markets and have a staggering 320 different labels. Examples include Dreamfish Chardonnay and Wolf House Pinot Noir, which head for the US and UK respectively.

The company's "I Love" label (featuring a heart) sells 8 million bottles per annum.

It is no surprise then that Recas are the most profitable winery in Romania.

They employ four winemakers - two Australians, a Spaniard and a Romanian - and hope to increase production to 15 million litres this year.

Two-thirds of the fruit needed comes from their 955 hectares under vine.

Thirty brand new 75,000-litre stainless steel tanks have just been installed to meet new demand, along with a new bottling facility, as part of a 35m Euro investment in state-of-the-art equipment.

Lest anyone think Recas' watchword is volume, it is worth pointing out that they have many premium labels.

Cox says that the majority of Romania's estates are now focussing on premium wines. There has been an explosion of new wineries in the last six years - with around 100 established in that time, according to Cox.

One of these is Avincis in the southern central part of the country near Dragasani, which produces around 150,000 bottles per year (15% being exported).

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