Milestii Mici is the largest underground wine cellar in Moldova. It has more than 200 km of limestone tunnels, 55 km of which are used for storing wine. The tunnels’ depth varies from 30 to 85 m below ground.
The tunnels were created by excavating limestone blocks to build Chisinau. It was converted into an underground wine cellar in 1969. The natural limestone helps to maintain a constant temperature of 12-14 C (54-57 F) and humidity of 97-98%, creating optimal conditions for storing wine. Most of the wine is stored in huge oak casks – made with Crimean or Krasnodar oak – that vary in size from 600 to 2,000 dal. The largest are big enough to hold a small car. The tunnels are named after the wines kept there.
The cellar has a huge wine collection of more than 2 million bottles – the largest collection in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. More than 70% of the stored wines are red, 20% are white and about 10% are dessert wines. The Milestii Mici Golden Collection of wines, with wines dating back to 1969, is the pride of the cellar. The most valuable items of this collection were produced in 1973-74; they are now exported exclusively to Japan. The wines stored here are made from grapes harvested in various years, beginning with 1969. The wines were produced in keeping with old Moldovan traditions. Today, the winery produces wines following new, modern standards.
In the center of the cellar complex is a large restaurant and tasting complex. The tasting halls are luxuriously decorated, accented by water, stone, and wood features. The walls are made from natural sea shell rock, skillfully illuminated. The cellar also has mosaic ponds with goldfish, nice sculptures, and beautiful stained-glass windows. Here guests can taste a range of wines. The winery produces dry, semi-dry, and sweet wines. Depending upon the tour package purchase, the tasting may include younger red and white wines, old collection wines, and sparkling wines. Tour packages range from basic tastings with simple snacks to large tastings with a full meal and souvenir.
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