Inspiration / Travels In Wine

On the road to Dragasani


Mahesh Bharwaney Mahesh Bharwaney / 01 August 2018

I was delighted to be asked by our buyer for Eastern European wine, Freddy Bulmer, to accompany him on a trip to Romania this summer courtesy of Prince Stirbey winery. Professionally, as the Regional Merchandiser for Eastern Europe, I jumped at the chance of gaining greater insight into the country whose wines are still relatively new for us. I wanted to find out more about Romania's indigenous grape varieties, and conditions within the country, both for grapes and people! And personally, I thought it would be fun and interesting, and if truth be told, I was fascinated to find out a little more about owners, Ileana and Jakob Kripp, The Princess and The Baron!

We made it! Freddy and I taking a breather after our long journey east
We made it! Freddy and I taking a breather after our long journey east
Tamâioasa Româneasca grapes
Tamâioasa Româneasca grapes

So, the first thing I will say is that door to door from our offices in Stevenage to the vineyards in Drăgăsani where we were staying took 11 hours. A lot longer than I was expecting, although it did include a two-hour stop for dinner in Pitesti (halfway between Bucharest and Drăgăsani).

Here we enjoyed a Prince Stirbey sparkling rosé made from the novac grape with the starter, and a Stirbey sweet tămâioasă românească with a lovely apple strudel as Jakob treated us to a delightful meal, and helped me celebrate my birthday. Both wines were new to me and both utterly delicious with the sweet a real delight.

On the way to Draga?ani we stopped off at Maldare?ti renowned for its cule or fortified 16th-century manor houses built in defense against the Turks
On the way to Drăgăsani we stopped off at Măldăresti renowned for its cule or fortified 16th-century manor houses built in defence against the marauding Turks

Ileana, a direct descendant of the Romanian royal family had to stay in Austria as her daughter and grandchildren were there visiting. So Freddy and I had the company of Richard Fox UK agent for Prince Stirbey and Baron Jakob Kripp for the duration of our stay. Over dinner as we chatted I started to get a feel for the country and its people. Jakob told us that despite the fact that the country has significant oil and gas industries and a fast-growing economy, the wealth has not filtered down to the general population, even after the regime change. Dacia cars, now owned by Renault, are the most popular car on the road, but horse and cart still rank in the top 10!

A Romanian classic: Dacia cars are the most popular on the road but horse and cart still figure in the top 10!
A Romanian classic: Dacia cars are the most popular on the road but horse and cart still figure in the top 10!
Homebrew by the side of the road
Homebrew by the side of the road

Agriculture and farming are huge and there were swathes of sunflowers standing proud along the roadside as we travelled on our way. The people were friendly and charming and quick to smile and the language and culture has an Italian/Latin heritage as opposed to Slavic. Food was wholesome and healthy, simple but very generously proportioned and most definitely seasonal and locally produced.

Having left a scorched UK behind us it was quite refreshing to be surrounded by pleasant green vistas but the weather whilst we were there was either humid and hot with intense sunshine or stormy with lightning and thunder prickling the senses.

Wonderfully green Romanian landscape – a nice break from our hot summer!
Wonderfully green Romanian landscape – a nice break from our hot summer!

A visit to the nearby majestic Carpathian mountains and iconic Transylvania would have been wonderful, but unfortunately we just did not have the time.,f_auto/Inspiration/content_images/TIW%20Romania/romania-1-7.jpg
Homegrown grapes for breakfast – simple and delicious

Where to go next?

Want more inspiration?

Sign up for a carefully-curated selection of recipes, guides, in-depth expertise and much more.

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.


4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies: Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.