Find out how our Moldovan winemakers have stepped up in support of Ukraine
Wine lists aren’t usually a place for politics, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brought war to the doorsteps of our winemakers in Moldova.
Little Moldova (population just 2.8m) shares a long border with Ukraine, so when tanks rolled into their neighbour’s country tens of thousands of displaced Ukrainians sought refuge in Moldova.
Many arrived with nothing more than a single bag of hurriedly packed possessions ... large numbers were unaccompanied children, sent to safety by their parents.
All of which made for upsetting reading in the newspapers. But when we spoke with our winemaking friends in Moldova a few weeks ago, that saddening news was accompanied by accounts that were also humbling and inspiring ... and that we wanted to share with you because our customers have supported the wines of Moldova for almost 20 years.
First we spoke with Alina at Château Vartely, a grand estate in this proud winemaking country and about 30km from the border. “The situation is unthinkable,” she said. “Nobody was expecting anything like this could happen in the modern world. Still, since 24th February, this is our reality and we try to cope with it.” Alina reports a huge influx of people into the area and that the winery’s hotel – more used to hosting weddings and wine tourists – has been repurposed to house refugees.
Meanwhile winery staff have been volunteering at makeshift refugee centres, have welcomed people into their own homes and are busy buying food, clothing, toys ... anything to help make things more bearable. As she says, matter of factly, “The best way not to feel panicked and frustrated is to help others.” Next we heard from Natalia who makes our popular Albastrele wines. She told us her team were busy supporting the local orphanage, as staff there worked tirelessly to cope with the large number of unaccompanied children being referred to them. We felt pretty humbled, hearing about such kindness and generosity in perhaps the poorest country in Europe.
When the crisis began, we, like countless other organisations and individuals up and down the country, made a contribution to the DEC Appeal. Speaking with our friends in the wine community we saw an opportunity to also get more directly involved, and we imagined you would expect nothing less ... many of you will even have met the winemakers at our Vintage Festival.
First up, of course we did what we know best – bought and prepaid for lots more wine from both wineries. That’s our response to everything. But hearing about old friends going above and beyond we were inspired to contribute more directly and are helping to pay for provisions that the winery buys for the orphanage. We hope to share more news and perhaps some photographs soon. For the moment though we are trying to just let these wonderful people get on with their critical work.
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