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Moldovan Wine Back in Russia?

Published:  23 July, 2008

Agreement between presidents Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Voronin at their June summit has paved the way for the return of Moldovan wines to Russia.

The industry is optimistic that sales will resume within 1-2 months. Moldova has been hoping for the Russian market to re-open since the ban on its wines in March 2006.

All Moldovan wine will have to go through a single export window, as is already the case for exports to Belarus.

SoyuzPlodImport, the Federal Treasury Enterprise has apparently won the tender for handling all exports: a royalty will be due on all Moldovan trademarks and in return the Russian organisation will promote Moldovan products.

In addition, after winery visits by Russian inspectors in March, export certification will require 52 different analytical tests.

Iurie Mudrea of Moldova-Vin believes that this single window approach will tighten up quality control.

It seems, however, unlikely that Moldova will achieve the same volumes as before the ban, when Moldovan market share was 45%.

Much of this has been replaced by wines sold as Russian; winemaking materials (including unfiltered wine) can legally be imported for finishing and labelling as Russian.

Mudrea is confident that the Russian consumer will return to Moldovan wine as "our wines meet consumer demand and dry wine is not well accepted in Russia."

Not everyone agrees that the ban lifting is good for Moldova: "it's the last nail in the coffin for improvements in viticulture" according to Gheorghe Arpentin of the Union of Moldovan Winemakers.

Another industry source highlights that "People are starving in the countryside and haven't been paid for a year" so resumption of sales is essential to clear massive stocks and to allow wineries to buy grapes in 2007.