Story and Photos by Valentina Phillips
Picture this: a massive underground city, a sprawling labyrinth with over 120 miles of winding limestone tunnels. And what's hiding down there? Well, get ready to raise your eyebrows in awe – more than 2 million bottles of wine!
Now, for the grand reveal – the location. This epic collection isn't in the heart of a French or Italian wine region. Nope, it's tucked away in a country with a population of just 2.5 million people, wedged between Romania and Ukraine. Enter "The Golden Collection" of Mileștii Mici winery in Moldova. This remarkable underground wine city has secured its name in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest wine cellar. Drawing in over 20,000 visitors annually, it is a prime attraction, captivating wine enthusiasts and tourists worldwide.
The underground labyrinth offers a journey both by car or on foot, where you can travel along dimly lit passageways and streets, all bearing names of grape varieties like Cabernet, Aligote, and Feteasca. As you wander, you'll come across rows of niches that house colossal barrels and meticulously arranged, precious bottles whose labels draped in spiderwebs and sealed with wax transport visitors to an enchanting world from another era.
This subterranean wonderland was once an old limestone mine, but in the late 1960s, its caverns were transformed into Milestii Mici's renowned wine cellar. Within these hallowed walls, a remarkable collection was born, featuring wines crafted from various vintage years starting in 1969. The cellar boasts an array of labels, from the well-known "Pinot," "Traminer," "Muscat," and "Riesling" to the more exotic "Feteasca," "Codru," "Trandafirul Moldovei," and beyond.
After exploring the marvels and "Golden Collection" of Mileștii Mici, visitors may enter the opulent underground tasting halls. Here, within walls of natural seashell rock, elegantly lit by lamps, they do more than taste wines and traditional dishes; they fully immerse themselves in the country's essence and spirit.
Mileștii Mici's wine cellar is an ode to the passage of time and an invitation to embark on your very own wine adventures in this unique underground setting.