“We feel connected to Romania in many ways, but most of all in terms of traditions and culture.” Interview with Lilia Dulgher, Gitana Winery 1953
How was your coming to Romania? How difficult was it to get into the Romanian market?
I was very enthusiastic to come to Romania, first of all, because it is a very interesting market and it’s still growing, and secondly because it is a very dear market to us, Moldovan people. Moldovans like to have contacts with Romania, we feel like we’re coming home after a long trip, we feel connected to Romania in many ways, but most of all in terms of traditions and culture. There are more and more versed connoisseurs of quality wines in Romania, people who already know the most important international labels and look for new flavours, original combinations and blends, terroirs full of personality, such as the Moldovan wine.
Returning to your question, initially, it was very easy for me to get into the market. When I expanded sales actions and the implementation of the project itself, I realized it’s not so simple and I had a lot of difficulties. But I’m not a person easy to scare, and when I decide to do something, I finish it. However, there are no markets easy to be approached, each one has its specific.
The world of wine is still perceived as a world of men. For example, in Romania only 5% of the wine industry belongs to the women. How do you see this world?
I never felt overwhelmed by this world of men. It seems to me that a woman’s skills and malleability, the deeper manner in which we see things, can be consistent advantages. We work mainly with men at Gitana Winery (the winemaker, the oenologist, the viticulturist), and the owner of the winery is also a man. I feel very good at working with them. I don’t believe things are divided like this: worlds of women and worlds of men, professions for women and professions for men. I believe that everything is a matter of balance. This family business wouldn’t have existed without my father’s determination and courage, we wouldn’t have resisted without my mother’s vision and ability to keep us together, the business wouldn’t have grown without the novelty and creativity brought by me and my sister.
Why did you choose the name “Gitana Winery”?
The name of the village where the winery is located is Tiganca (Gipsy Woman – e.n.), and the winery was called the same – Vinaria Tiganca (Tiganca Winery – e.n.). Since we believe that traditions are important, we have decided to resort to the originality and experience of an Argentinian designer who analyzed both the winery’s heritage and the things that an international brand could offer, an original symbol to be understood by everybody, regardless of the country of origin. So we made a change: Vinaria Tigancabecame Gitana Winery. We transformed the brand to be appropriate for export and internationally competitive, without losing our identity and origin.
What is the role you wish to play in this world of wine?
I’m not dreaming to have winning wines or to increase production. The quality of our wines is publicly confirmed by those who look for us, who want our products, who can hardly wait for us to release our next wine on the market. Also, I’m not dreaming to reach 10 million bottles, because we would lose control of the quality and traditional technology we use. Then, the quality of our wine is given exactly by the local specificity, by the terroir with which God blessed us in this area located on Moldova’s hills, protected by the Prut meadow and under the breath of the Black Sea. Now that we renovated the winery, I would very much like to get the necessary funds to develop the place for agricultural tourism. I’d like to enter this sector and to see the winery full of people willing to know the tradition and the wines we make in the traditional way.
On which markets is the Gitana brand present?
We currently sell Gitana wines on the Moldovan market, in Romania, and we start to develop our sells also in Poland. We are slightly present in entire Europe, especially in Switzerland and Italy, as well as in the USA and Japan.
Where can those who wish to know you, to learn more about the Gitana wines, find you?
We opened an office in Bucharest one year ago, and we sell our wines in big chains like Mega Image, Sellgros and Cora. Here you can find the middle ranges. The top ranges are available in wine stores and restaurants, they are almost 50 in all of the country. Soon, we’ll be present also in Carrefour and Auchan.
Each Gitana wine has a story. What is the story of the wine Autograf, released this year?
You see, we always work together in our family, everyone has an idea, a preference. Sometimes we don’t agree with each other, other times we find the answer very quickly. So we thought to make a series which symbolizes each one’s personality. Each of our family members has put in the wine he signs, the thing that defines him best. When we had to work on the labels and promoting texts, and when each of us had to write his autograph, we realized that none of us spoke about himself as an individual, but about the family and force that we have together. Therefore, although “Autograf” should have been a series of 4 wines, each one with a unique author, in the end, it is a family series, in which we consider wine as a binder, an element that unites us and bears the story of our family and passion.
Are you nervous when you attend events where you present your winery and wines? How do you feel when people come to ask details on the wines?
I speak very naturally about our wines, I never make plans in advance, because they are part of me, I know every process and element which was part of their birth. I don’t like to speak about others’ wines, not because I don’t appreciate them, but because to me, wine is something very personal. I am glad when people look for me at the events, to tell me that our wine was a pleasant surprise. I am always sending these thoughts to those at home because I am always surrounded by people’s opinions, but my parents are very busy since they are effectively working at the winery, and they need to feed on this joy of the people, caused by the wines they are producing with their hands.
How does a family evening look like, when you get together, home to the Republic of Moldova?
In terms of tradition, our family has more Bulgarian influences than Moldovan or Russian ones. First of all, the family structure is more like a matriarchy. A woman is very important in our family. I think that eating together is the element that connects us fastest, as it happens in all families; we gather to eat together, which mainly has a social role. Here we tell each other what we have done, what are our plans, what problems we have encountered, we advise each other. Morning meeting, at the coffee, becomes real strategy meetings. There is harmony in our family, we communicate a lot, but we respect each other’s limits and opinions.