Top Tables: ATU Winery and Casa din Lunca, Moldova

An urban winery in a former Soviet automotive dealership, and cookery lessons at Moldova’s first rural homestay

ATU was set up in 2016 by husband-and-wife team Victor and Vlada Vutcărău as the country’s very first urban winery in Chișinău. Its HQ, a former Soviet automotive dealership’s premises and is awash with luminous street art; its crew bedecked in dungarees and skater kicks. The wines here are imaginative and boundary-pushing, all produced by hand from vineyard to glass in limited-edition batches. This hands-on approach allows the team to treat each and every drop of wine with the utmost care and attention. And it really shows.

Book a tasting and you can kick back to enjoy the ensuing flights of fancy, accompanied by moreish supplies of delicious local plăcintă – sweet or savoury cakes with a variety of different fillings with everything from cabbage and feta cheese to pumpkin, apples and fresh fruits. Start with the mind-blowing Viorica, a sensational white wine made from an indigenous variety literally bursting with tropical aromas; an unctuous cabernet sauvignon-based rosé or a delicious codrinschi, a blend of rară neagră and cabernet sauvignon – ATU is the first and only winery to produce wine from the Moldovan variety of codrinschi. Co-owner Vlada is particularly proud of the brand’s sustainability credentials – her family owns the largest waste sorting and recycling plant in Moldova, so she has her finger very firmly on the pulse.

Everything from the winery is collected separately for recycling: both from consumption of wine locally and from the commercial flow: pallets, foil and cardboard. And they don’t stop there: all organic waste from the wine production process serves as compost for their vine plantations in the village of Ustia, in the Dubăsari district, to boost soil quality. ATU is also in the process of implementing a network of vending machines for the collection of glass packaging waste.

ATU winery, 58 Dacia Boulevard, Chișinău 2062, Moldova; atu.wine

Casa din Lunca was Moldova’s first rural homestay. Located in the hamlet of Trebujeni, it is the ideal place to embrace the local vernacular for a spot of lunch once you’ve explored the neighbouring Old Orhei – the iconic rocky ridge that extends across the River Răut in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Owned by the Benzin family, Lunca’s idyllic riverside setting plays host to cookery lessons in the preparation of traditional Moldovan cuisine, where you get to eat the fruits of your labours afterwards. Dine on all-organic and locally sourced staples such as chicken noodle soup and divine vegetable sides. What’s more, you can even have a dip in the outdoor pool before heading back to Chișinău.

Casa din Lunca, Trebujeni 3552, Moldova; casadinlunca.com

By Lee Osborne, Creative Director, Secret Trips

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