The culinary world has witnessed a remarkable growth of the chef’s cult. In the world of wines, although less popular, it is the winemaker, but many do not know that 80% of the individuality and quality of bottled wine depends on grapes. And winemakers, who take care every day so all the vines evolve in a healthy environment, are often placed in the background.
In Sălcuța, Andrei Gangan, the viticulturist, together with the winemakers Victor and Sergiu Pîslaru, are in a continuous exploration of the vineyards, of the varieties we cultivate and of the wines obtained from the grapes we harvest every year.
Andrei’s story begins in the village of Fârlădeni, Căușeni district, near the vineyards of the Pîslaru family. There he went to school and high school, and from the 9th grade, every summer, he worked in the vineyard. After finishing his studies at the Agrarian University of Chisinau, “the next day I was already in Sălcuța, because I knew for a long time that I would choose this path” says Andrei. His father is part of the Sălcuța team, being here since the first days of its establishment, as an engineering specialist. Grandpa Eugen and his son’s work and the deep respect for the land motivated Andrei to follow the path of his life at the same winery, in the heart of the vineyards.
Just as it is important for us to be honest and share with you details about this beautiful wine production process, today we are talking about viticulture, in a Q&A format with Andrei Gangan, a member of the Sălcuța family!
- Where are the family vineyards situated and what are the peculiarities of this positioning?
The vineyards are located near the village of Tănătarii Noi and are spread over 450 hectares. At an altitude of 140 m above sea level, in a Mediterranean climate and soil rich in hummus mixed with sand and clay, we grow 12 varieties of grapes, which are then harvested in mid-August – late October. Last year, in the pictures made with the drone, we noticed that the vineyards are placed in the shape of a heart. In my vision, it is a sign that in Sălcuța the grapes’s life starts in an environment where there is love for the land.
- What are the varieties of grapes that are the closest to your soul?
Each variety is like each and one of us: different in appearance to content, so to speak … with weaknesses and strengths. We have grape varieties that are more or less resistant to disease, frost, drought and many other external factors that can influence the evolution of the grape. I would like to mention the main stages of this biological cycle, namely (1) crying – the annual phenomenon in which sap is observed from the growing tips of the plant, marking the moment of “awakening” and the entry into vegetation. (2) budding and growth of shoots, (3) flowering, (4) grain growth, followed by (5) their maturation.
Returning to the question, I would like to say that from the white varieties it is definitely Pinot Gris, a resistant variety, full of personality and the most planted white grape variety in our vineyards. From the red ones – Merlot, although it is a variety that requires a lot of care, I am fascinated by how it evolves in the finished product and especially in our blend, where there is also Cabernet Sauvignon with Saperavi, from the ENO range.
- What is the most special place in the vineyards for you?
Right in the middle of the vineyards we have a landscaped area where, as a rule, during the campaign, we organize the teams of workers, we weigh the harvested grapes, we also celebrate many others. That’s where I feel like I am in the heart of the vineyards and can admire a fascinating view of the vine, surrounded by three plots of vines dear to me – Pinot Gris, Merlot and Chardonnay.
- How was 2020 for you?
This year has been one full of uncertainty and difficulties different from what we have encountered so far. Severe drought, low temperatures and spring frost, self-isolation of all inhabitants, were the most important factors that challenged us to implement other solutions, but also to adapt to new times. This year’s unfavorable weather factors have brought us less grapes compared to previous years, but we are optimistic and will focus on ensuring the high quality of wines from the grape we have. Unfortunately, we went through periods when self-isolation was mandatory and we encountered difficulties in organizing the workers from the region to work in the vineyards. It is important that in these times of crisis we think strategically and implement long-term and short-term measures, and then make sure that we maintain consistency in the way grapes are grown, which subsequently influences the personality of each wine.
- What are your future goals and what ideas would you like to implement in this important branch of the winery?
In general, as a country, we are in a process of development – perhaps at a slower pace – but I am optimistic about things. I would like to expand, to plant more of the international red varieties, but also the indigenous ones. Certainly we are still in a phase of studying the local grape varieties, but in my vision we must make an effort to bring abroad the wines that fully represent our culture and heritage. It is equally important to observe the level of migration of our citizens, and if there are no initiatives to motivate people to return to the country to work in one of the most important industries, we will have to implement a mechanized management of vineyards. .
- How would you describe Salcuta?
Family values, dynamism, innovation and work!
We say that viticulture is about nature, it is a mixture of science, art and wisdom, and Andrei embodies this statement.
Salcuta – where the wine road is synchronized with the human one.