Muntenia and Oltenia hold together a wine-growing area of 104,000 ha, and the wines here have a long history, dating back to the 14th century or even before. The vineyards are located mostly in the hills, on some ramifications of the mountains, towards the plains, and are bathed in sunshine for a great part of the year. That is why, this region is blessed by the climate, more precisely, by the overflow of the light and heat resources, which exceed those in northern Moldova and Transylvania. The climate favors the production of the best Romanian reds, but also of superior whites.
The region overlaps nearly the entire big unit of hills geographically known as the Getaeic Plateau, stretching from the Getaeic Sub-Carpathians to the north and the Romanian Plain to the couth. The wine-growing region includes eight vineyards (Dealu Mare, Cernățești, Drăgășani, Pietroasa, Sâmburești, Ștefănești, Banu Mărăcine, Segarcea and Mehedinți). The wine production is diverse. Except for samburesti, which specializes in reds, all the other vineyards produce a large array of wines, mainly whites, starting with those for current consumption, to the superiuor ones, worthy of wines of origin and steps of quality.
(a) The Dealu Mare Vineyards
The historians note that wine growing was practised for centuries between the Sub-Carpathians and the Danune Plain – where the dealu Mare vineyard is placed today – with many proofs attesting to it (drinking pots or toold). The local wine was described by the foreign travellers of the Middle Ages as an “oily, strong and durable” wine, which found its place on the table along with wines from well known vineyards in Europe. Located between the Teleajen river to thje west and the Buzau to the east, the vineyard runs on 70 km, being cultivated on the slopes of the hills and in their depressions. The average annual temperature varies around 10.8°C to the west of the vineyard, and around 11.2°C to the east. The winters are relatively short, and the cold becomes more sharp in January and the first half of February. The average temperature of the coldest month (January) is of -2.1°C, varying between -9.5°C and +4.3°C. The total number of the hours of sunshine is of 2,146. The heliothermal resources of the Dealu Mare (Big Hill) vineyard are generally high, favoring a good ripening of the grapes and of the wood of the vines. The soils are varied, due to the active erosion process. The western side of the Dealu Mare massif is made of ref clay, marl, and to a smaller expent, by fine reddish sands. The latter have a high content of iron oxydes and are very indicated for the culture of red wines. To the east of the massif, the soils are based on Sarmatian limestones, clay, hone, and Dacitic tuffs, fine sands deposits alternating with gravel formede of fragments of crystalline rocks, lehma and loess.
The types of grapes grown here are numerous and they yield white, rose and red wines. Whites include Chardonnay, Grey Pinot, Pinot blanc, Rhine Riesling, Italian Riesling, Sauvignon, White Fetească, Royal Feteasca, Muscat Ottonel, Sauvignon blanc, Romanian Tămâioasă, Viognier, Aligoté, Traminer rose, Grasă of Cotnari, selected Crâmpoşie.
The red/rose types are: Busuioacă of Bohotin, Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Pinot noir, black Fetească, Merlot, Grand Burgundy, Syrah, Novac, Black of Drăgăşani, spicy Black, Sangiovese, Grenache, Mourvedre, Petit verdot, Nebbiolo, Barbera, black Băbească. Dealu Mare also produces graopes for spicy bubbly wines: Muscat Ottonel, Moscato Bianco, Romanian Tămâioasă and Busuioacă of Bohotin.
(b) The Dragasani Vineyards
Dragasani is the oldest and most important vineyard in Oltenia, just as Dealu Mare is to Muntenia and Odobesti to Moldova. In the past, it was the princely vineyard of the Bans of Oltenia, with roots to the Getae-Dacian period of 2000 years ago. Legend has it that the “Braghina” grapes was dubbed after thedaughter of Burebista, while the “Gordana” grapes were named after a bravce Dacian warrior, whose death was controversial at the time, because he drank several glasses of wine during the battle in which he was killed. The Dragasani vineyards are mentioned in documents dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, during the reign of Michael The Brave, who made numerous donations to the monasteries which owned vine plantations. Before the phylloxera attack, the key sorts of grapes at Dragasani were Crâmpoşie, Braghină and Gordană, adding to which is Romanian Tamaioasa.
Geographically, the Dragasani vineyard stretches between the Getaeic Sub-Carpathians to the north and the Romanian Plain to the south and southeast, over some 50 km. The relief is hilly, with an altitude between 200 and 500 meters.
The climate is temperate-continental, with cold winters and warm summers. The average annual temperature is of 11.3°C, with moderate rainfall (642 mm per year), while the sunshine in the vegetation period, of 1520 hours, induces favorable climate conditions for the culture of vine, with direct influence on the quakity of the crop. The soils on the platform lands are characterized by the prosence of albic luviosoils, planosoils and (podzolitic) brown luvic soils. On the narrow, well drained hilltops, on the higher end of the slopes and on the terraces we witness the formation of brown argillous-luvial soils. The slopes contain brown eu-mezobasic and regosoils. The reddish-brown soils appear on the terraces, to the south of the vineyard.
The viticultural types authorized and/or recommended for this vineyars include white wine types: (selected Crâmpoşie, Romanian Tămâioasă, Sauvignon, Grey Pinot, Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Royal Fetească) and types for red wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot noir, Novac, Black of Drăgăşani).
(c) The Pietroasa Vineyards
A famous area, both for its archaeological finds – the solid-gold treasure The Hen with golkden chicken, was found here in 1837, and for its noble vines, which produce wines appreciated at a world level. Owing to the excellent climate conditions, as well as to the soil and relief fit for cultivating vines, as well as to the legend-laden location, the first viticultural research centre in Romania was created here in 1893. Geographically, the Pietroasa vineyard stretches alonf 70 km between the Teleajen and the Buzau valleys. The climate gives a special savor to the grapes, being temperate-continental, with an average annual temperature of 11.4 degrees Celsius and a period of sunshine of 2,100 hours per year, of which more than 1,600 hours during the vegetation period. The soils are formed on shells embedded in limestone. The mother rock is at low depth, even protruding in some areas. The soils with distinct characteristics include: skeleton/limestone soils which occupy the higher end of the slopes. They are rich in limestone and favorable to sweet and spicy grapes. The colluvial soils with skeleton in the middle and the chernozem colluvial and chernozem-rpoper soils are at the bottom of the slopes and favor the cultivation of grapes for table wines.
The grapes produced at Pietroasa include sorts for white wines (Romanian Tămâioasă, Grasa of Cotnari, Grey Pinot, Sauvignon, White Feteasca, Royal Fetească, Italian Riesling, Chardonnay), types for rose wines (Busuioacă of Bohotin) and types for red wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir, Black Fetească, Merlot, Grand Burgundy).
(d) The Samburesti Vineyards
Samburesti might be called an aristocratic vineyard, given its history. Documented as early as the age of Michael the Brave, the domain, which stretches over nearly 500 hectares, belonged to prominent people, including Theodosie Rudeanu, great chancellor of Michael the Brave, the grandson of Dan Danilovici, the grand treasurer of Matei Basarab and the son-in-law of Constantin Brancoveanu, and not least. To the Bratianu family.
The Samburesti vineyard is placed in the north of the Olt county, west of the Stefanesti vineyard, covering the hills on the left bank of the homonymous river. It runs at an altitude starting from 140 meters and reaches up to 370 meters. Constantly exposed to sunlight, the Samburesti vineyard enjoys an average annual temperature of 10.6 degrees Celsius and a sum of annual rainfall of 555.2 mm. The soils have a sandy-clayish texture, acting as true energy reservoirs, which capture the warmth of dailight and release it at night, thus helping the grapes to develop its sugars at length. Famous for its red wines, the Samburesti vineyard also produces grapes for white wines, such as White Fetească, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Italian Riesling, or Royal Fetească. The stars are, however, the red types - Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, prize-winners at an international level. Other reds from Samburesti include Black Feteasca, Pinot noir, Novac or Black of Drăgășani.
(e) The Ștefănești Vineyards
Mentioned as early at 330 B.C., in the writings of Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, the Stefanesti vineyard has enjoyed high appreciation over time. Moldovan chronicler Miron Costin noted that Pitesti boasts “sweet wines,” while Syrian priest and chronicler Paul of Aleppo wrote, in 1635, that “a good and sweet wine is produced here, which has a great renown, being the best of all the wines produced in Wallachia.” Details about the tradition of grape harvesting are included in documents dated 1902, dating back to Constantin Brancoveanu, Prince of Wallachia between 1688 and 1714, as well as mentions of how Prince Matei Basarab was helping the producers to obtain good harvests.
The Arges vineyards are located in the eastern hilly area of Oltenia, more precisely, in the cintact zone of the Candesti Plateau with the Romanian Plain, at a height descending from 400 meters to 100 metres. The climate is temperate-continental, permeated by masses of Maditerranean air, with annual rainfall averaging 600 mm. As for the structure of the soil, it is luvic (podzolotic) on the Candesti Platform, while on the slopes, there are mainly brown eu-mezobasic, athropic, regosoils and colluvio-soils.
Stefanesti produces mainly superior white wines, such as: White Feteasca, Aligoté, Sauvignon and Italian Riesling, red wines – Black Fetească, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Grand Burgundy, but also spicy white wines such as Romanian Tămăioasa and Muscat Ottonel.
(f) The Banu Maracine Vineyards
The first documentary mention of the vineyards in the region dates back to 1532, when Vlad the Drowned, Prince of Wallachia between June 1530 and September 1532, bestowed on Hamza, the Ban of Jiu and Craiova, all the vineyards at Craiova. The Banu Maracine vineyard is thus placed only six km away from Craiova, to the southern end of the Geteaic Plateau. The vitucultural plantations cover the relatively flat lands of the central plateau of the Oltenia Plain, or the hilly lands between the Jiu and the Teslui rivers.
The wines produced in this vineyard have a high content of minerals, owing to the emplacement of the plantations on reddish-brown soils, and levigated chernozems, both being advantaged by the middle or argillous-claying texture, with the physical and chemical characteristics of these soils being among the most favorable to the culture of vine. The basic soild are reddish-brown, normal or moderately-eroded on the slopes, followed by brown soils or/and weakly podzolitic soils, moderately-strongly eroded on the spoles and alluvial soils on the riverside terraces.The tyoes of grapes include those producing white wines (Romanian Tămâioasă, Sauvignon, White Fetească, Chardonnay, Grey Pinot, Royal Fetească, Italian Riesling, selected Crâmpoşie) and tyoes for red wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir, Merlot, Black Fetească, Novac, Black of Drăgăşani, Grand Burgundy).
(g) The Segarcea Vineyards
Also called the “King’s wine,” because the vineyard belonged to the Royal House of Romania between 1884 and 1947, the Segarcea wine is imbued with the aroma of history. The cultivation of vines and the production of wine in this region was mentioned in writing as early as 1557, in a document where Patrascu the Good, the father of Prince Michael the Brave, was bestowing as dowry “the lands of Segarcea to his daughter, Maria.” At the time, the vineyards and wines of Segarcea were well known. The Segarcea winegrowing center was recognized for the first time, along with another 27 winegrowing centers by Decree of the Council of Ministers on May 25, 1929. Geographically, Segarcea is located to the south of Romania, in the region of Oltenia, 25 km south of Craiova and 70 km north of the Danube. The culture of vines is favored by the pedo-climatic conditions here, with the vineyards planted on the last hills before the Danube, in an amphitheater formed by the river, the Carpathians and the Balkans. Those hills were a large basin in the past, from which a clay pedestal rose, over which a layer of chernozem overlaps. The number of at least 1440 hours of sunshine during the vegetation period (April 1-October 31), explains why the Segarcea terroir is mainly used to grow black graoes, wothout disadvantaging the white types. The sum of annual rainfall adds up to 565 mm, and the average annual temperature is of 11ºC.
The types of white grapes producing wines at Segarcea are Romanian Tămâioasa, Rose Tămâioasă, Sauvignon, Grey Pinot, Chardonnay, White Fetească, Italian Riesling, Rhine Riesling, Viognier, while the reds are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Black Fetească, Marcelan, Syrah, Black of Drăgăşani.
(h) The Mehedinți Vineyards
With a history dating back to the Dacians, the vineyards of Mehedinti produce a wine which has fascinated, along the time, all the foreigners who tasted it and especially, who discovered here a place of quiet, from Marcel Proust to ambassadors, historians or chroniclers. Prince Anton Bibescu “lived moments of rare happiness when he touched the plump and frosty grapes” of his vineyard at Corcova, as noted by publicist Virgil Tataru. Split into four famous centres – Severin, Corcova, Golul Drancei and Vinju Mare – Orevița, the Mehedinti vineyard stretched, according to a statistics from December 3, 1832, on a surface of 5341 acres of vines.
Geographically, the Mehedinti vineyard is placed at the southwest extremity of the Getaeic Plateau. The climate is temperate-continental with sub-Meditarranean influences; especially in the winter, there are invasions of wet and warm masses of Mediterranean and Ocean air, which explain the minder winters, while the summers are generally warm, but with cool nights due to the proximity of the doresta and mountains. The average annual air temperature is of 11.5°C, and the average annual rainfall is of around 600 mm. The types of soil are reddish-brown and levigated chernozems, with argillous-clayish texture at some points. The litology of the Severin vineyard is made up of marls, clays and lacustrine Plioceneic sands, over which stands a succession of gravel, sands and leossoidal deposits from thre high Pleistocene, towards the Danube.
The whites of this region are: Romanian Tămâioasă, Muscat Ottonel, Sauvignon, Grey Pinot, White Fetească, Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, White Fetească, while the reds are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot noir, Black Fetească, Novac, Drăgăşani Black, Marcelan, Syrah.