A visit to Moldova is not complete without a trip to Cricova Winery and Underground City. As I said before, in my post on How to Spend 48 hours in Chisinau, Moldova, a visit to Cricova is one of the main attraction and you should definitely book a tour here.
Where is Cricova Winery?
Cricova is a small town next to Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova. If you are planning a trip to Moldova, here are some tips on how to spend 2 days in Chisinau. Chances are you will plan to visit Romania as well, so make sure to check some of my favourite places in Bucharest.
From where you are staying in Chisinau, ask your host to call for a taxi, or ask them if they have a taxi app. Taking a random taxi from the street is not suggested, and chances are they will rip you off. I paid 85 MDL (left 100 MDL) to get there, from the centre of Chisinau. To get back, I asked the lady from the Cricova Winery reception to ask for a taxi. It was 100 MDL. The driver was happy with that.
Exchange price at the moment of writing 100 MDL = 5,11 Eur
Booking the Cricova Winery tour
I strongly suggest you book your tour one or 2 weeks ahead. It is never too early to book it. But you could find yourself without a tour to join, especially if you are a larger group.
You cannot visit without a tour guide. They have many tour options and different language tours.
The basic package includes the underground tour. That is the simplest thing you can book.
If you want more, you can then add a wine tasting session afterwards, of 3, 4 or 7 wines. For larger groups, they organize special tours and meals. You should ask them about that.
Each option of the tour can have a souvenir included (2 bottles of wine: classical sparkling wine and red wine in a box) or not. You can choose. Of course, each option has a different price.
I used their website to book it, and they replied promptly via email. They answered all my questions and set everything through email.
Although the website is a bit confusing, here is a table of all the available tour options for Cricova winery.
I booked Package 3. “Profesional”. They add an extra tax of 100 MDL for weekend tours. That is why I paid 750 MDL for the tour. (~38 Eur)
Payment option: You will pay before the start of the tour at the reception. You can pay cash or by card. I paid by card, in the local currency (MDL). But they said they accept cash MDL, USD or EUR.
What to expect from the Cricova Winery tour
It was beginning of May and it was already hot outside. But, as they warned me, I put on long jeans, sneakers and a jacket. We waited a bit for the train to come to pick us up, but once we got into the underground, I started feeling the cold. No matter the season, the temperature is around 10 °C.
The tour has 5 stops (from what I can remember. The wine tasting session got me dizzy near the end) and the guide is very knowledgeable. She was kind and answered all the questions from the group.
I cannot remember all the different stations, but the making of sparkling wine was involved. And after that was presented, we were taken to a nice hall, called the cinema, where we had a nice cup of sparkling wine and watched a short movie in which the marketing department put a lot of effort. Quite impressive and nice, although it is like paying to watch commercials.
Last stop is also something to remember. It is the special cellar where Cricova keeps all the very famous wine bottles. Various presidents and politicians have private wine collections which are held here.
But enough about the dusty old wine bottles. Let’s talk about the reception halls (where the feasts and the wine tasting happens).
Cricova Winery – The wine tasting experience
If you are lucky enough to get there, please do get the package that includes wine tasting. You don’t even have to like wine that much. You will like this experience anyway because it is wine with a story. Good enough stories usually sell anything. And Cricova Winery surely knows how to tell a wine story. And the wine is good.
Some snacks and water are also included. So you will not starve. And you will not get a dry throat. (If you know what I’m saying).
As I said before, I booked the Professional tour, which included the tasting of 7 wines, besides the trip.
As the waiters were setting the hall of my group, I washed my hands and took some pics. It was a very interesting hall, with an aquatic theme. There were only 2 glasses for wine and 1 for sparkling wine. A bottle of water. And a plate of cheese and crackers. Not the treat a vegan would expect, but the atmosphere was pretty special.
As the guide explained the 1st and the 2nd wine, she left us for a few minutes to savour it. After she returned, getting ready to explain the 3rd wine, as the waiter was serving it, I had to either finish the wine or throw it away. Unfortunately, you have to drink fast or let it go. Some training before would help.
So that happened. 2 white wines, 1 rose, and 2 red wines. And then the sparkling wine. White and red. Again you have to drink fast because there are 2 wines to taste and only 1 glass. I got really happy around the time I was tasting the first red wine. I think. But the rose was my favourite.
After this, they said goodbye and invited us to their tiny gift shop. Which is actually a wine shop, of course. I bought that rose wine, just in case I wanted some more for later. Carried it through busses, trains and planes. All the way back to Kiev and back to Bucharest. I still have it (at the moment of writing).
How did I like the Cricova Winery tour?
Loved the experience offered by Cricova Winery. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves wine and/or culture tours.
Don’t drive there, because it is illegal to drink and drive (And it is dangerous).
Book the tour which includes the wine tasting, it is worth it.