The top of the hill where the castle stands offers an unobstructed view to the east. Maybe this is also where the ancestors stood once to keep an eye on the land to see whether the Ottoman army crossed the Danube and it’s time to ring the alarm. Their fear wasn’t irrational. Following the Olt River winding its way through the valley may lead us through the mountain to Transylvania which has always been a favorite area to loot for the Turkish armies.
Of course, today there are no threats of looting by the enemies. We can just sit back by a waveless pool next to Vila Dobrușa and enjoy the view of Oltenia and the fan-shaped spots of vineyards covering the hill. It almost feels like in Tuscany and if we add the winery with its stylish tasting room, the fantastic guest rooms and apartments on the grassy top of the building, we could also picture to be on the estate of some Italian millionaire in California. (I am no one to judge American millionaires but clearly, the estate holders here not only have money but also a good taste, which is a noteworthy exception today.)
What am I doing here?
Maybe you remember that in the spring I attended the WineUp Festival in Cluj-Napoca where I met, almost incidentally Mr. Valeriu Stoica, owner of Avincis (of course, without the invitation of Ioana Bidian Micu and her introducing me to many people and arranging for me to enjoy the Avincis wine diner until 11 p.m. this wouldn’t have been possible). To be more precise, first I met his French Chief Winemaker, Mr. Ghislain Moritz who have since departed for his loved Alsace but is still helping the winery as a consultant.
After a friendly chat I followed him to find myself in a car sitting next to Mr. Stoica who, using the beautiful language of France, inquired if I preferred speaking in French or English. While on our way to the venue of the wine diner, he kept asking me about my work and never stopped smiling. And all throughout the diner, and I mean until the very end of it, he kept talking and talking making the audience laugh or deeply immersed in listening from time to time. Since I don’t speak Romanian, I could only recognise the name of Roman emperors in the story, so I wasn’t prepared when turning to me he suddenly asked me in English to share some thoughts on wines. Noting that I was convinced he was a history professor since in my opinion he had been talking about Napoleon and Trajan the whole time, I said I would restrict myself to talking only about wines. At that moment, I didn’t know that Mr. Valeriu Stoica was a law professor and the country’s former Minister of Justice. Nevertheless, the wines were really good with an interesting type among them, namely the Negru de Dragasani which motivated me to visit the wine region.
So, I was pleased to meet again Ghislain at the winery, then in the tasting room. Eventually we could talk in a peaceful environment and I have learnt that communism also took its toll in Romania just like in any other Central and Eastern European countries. The family estate was owned by Cristiana Irinel Stoica’s family, or more precisely her great-grandparents who bought the Neo- Brâncovenesc style castle and the surrounding vineyards in 1927.
After the nationalization, the family managed to re-purchase the ramshackle building and the devastated surrounding area and began its renovation in 2006 and the replantation of the vineyards in 2008. Until now they have planted vine stocks on an area of 43 hectares and keep planting since their objective is to have an area of 50-60 hectares covered with vineyards, all ecologically cultivated, in the coming 5-10 years. They clearly consider Negru de Dragasani as their flagship variety but Sauvignon Blanc enjoys the climate as well.
If all these made you feel like visiting the estate, I am pleased to inform you that it is suitable for accommodating 28 people and offers meals at request. If you are still unsure, please check my tasting notes here.