The Moldova Wine Tunnels and Hermann Göring

Let us take a look inside Moldova, its grape-laden soil, wine tunnels and its connection with one of Hitler’s henchmen, Hermann Göring.

Moldova may be Europe’s most poverty-ridden country, but there is one thing this country with a rural economy is rich of — grapes. Beyond the bounds of its capital city, Chisinau, the countryside of Moldova appears to be unaltered for the last century. And much of its land are occupied with rows and rows of grape vines in all their lush beauty.

Amazingly, Moldova is a regular in the list of the world’s top 10 wine exporters. As a matter of fact, 10% of this country’s GDP is contributed by the wine business. Throughout history, Moldova wines were valued highly across the Soviet Empire. Even until now. However, things have turned into a drastic change after the government of Moldova decided to get affable with the European Union.

As a result, Russia’s love affair with Moldova wines ended on a bitter note. Russian president Vladimir Putin commanded a ban on Moldova wine importation. The sanction greatly crippled the wineries in the country as they lost up to 30% of their usual sales.

The Wines of Moldova and History

Operating in Moldova is the world’s second biggest underground wine store — the Cricova Winery. The winery’s network of tunnels stretches for about one hundred kilometers long. These house tons and tons of wine made to age for perfection.

But there are wines inside these tunnels that are guarded not because of their extraordinary tastes, but because of the piece of history they tell.

Take for example the wine collection of one of the Nazi’s leading members who worked closely with German dictator Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring.

The BBC News team had the opportunity of touring through some of the tunnels of the Cricova Winery courtesy of marketing director Alexander Alexeev. They got to see and document the alcove which holds the bottles that are part of the Nazi leader’s personal assemblage. According to Mr. Alexeev, the assortment of wines personally chosen by Hermann Göring were brought by the Red Army from Berlin in 1945. The lot had stayed within its alcove dusty ever since.

The BBC correspondent inspecting one of the bottles, a Mosel white, tried to rub the dust off, but the marketing director laughingly warned him not to. He added that if auctioned off, the dusts are part and parcel of the payment that is why they are valuable.

If priced, each wine from the collection of Herman Göring – rusty caps, corks, dusts and all – could fetch up to £20,000 to £25,000. With about 129 bottles of wine within the levy, it is quite a fortune.

Even Russian president Vladimir Putin has his own alcove with wines of his personal choice within the tunnels of Cricova. Mr. Alexeev recounted that Mr. Putin had graced the tunnels with his presence a number of times. Because of his love for the place, he even held his 50th birthday celebration in it.

However, Mr. Alexeev acquiesced, a lot has changed since then.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE