December 20, 2023
Meet Victor Bostan, CEO, Purcari Wineries Ltd, Producers of Wine & Brandy, Central & Eastern Europe
London Wine Competition chats with the CEO of Purcari Wineries Group, one of the largest wine and brandy producers in Central and Eastern Europe.
Tell us a little about your background and journey into winemaking.
I graduated from the Faculty of Wine and Fermented Products’ Technology of the Moldovan Politechnical Institute in 1982, obtaining an oenologist diploma, one of the most prestigious professions of those times.
During the following period, I worked at a renowned Moldovan winery, the newest and the most equipped in the ‘80s within the Soviet Union, beginning as an oenologist and advancing in the organizational structure.
With the collapse of the USSR, the Moldovan wine industry suffered considerably, entering a period of stagnation caused by the lack of market outlets. But I was thinking strategically, being sure that the field will soon recover, so I made the first investments in the wine sector in the second half of the ‘90s, participating in the establishment of Larga-Vin winery in Moldova, and Kuban-Vino winery in Russia shortly after.
My longing and love for the country made me sell the enterprise from Kuban, which already became one of the largest wine companies in post-Soviet Russia.
Back in Moldova, in 2002 I made the first local purchase - a small wine-growing household from the village of Etulia, in Southern Moldova. Subsequently, the Onesti, Purcari, and Ceptura wineries were purchased. Following the acquisitions, we made numerous investments in the renovation and modernization of the wineries.
Your current role and what does your day look like?
At the moment, I am the CEO of Purcari Wineries Group, a leading player in the wine and brandy segments in Central and Eastern Europe, managing around 1,450 ha of vineyards and 6 wineries located in 3 countries: Château Purcari, Bostavan, Bardar, Domeniile Cuza (Republic of Moldova), Crama Ceptura (Romania), and Angel’s Estate (Bulgaria).
Although my current responsibilities are numerous and include many other fields besides winemaking – investments, resources, management, production, and networking, most of my days begin in the vineyards
Especially during the harvesting season, my days start early in the morning and end close to midnight. There are many processes that move along simultaneously – harvesting, reception of grapes, cooling the new batch, pressing the already cooled one, and verifying each tank with must, wine, and semi-wine to see if the process is going how it is supposed to. In parallel, the red wines, aged in barriques, are being bottled and so day by day. During the off-season, I am always available for colleagues from all departments.
What inspired you to become a winemaker?
My passion for winemaking started a long time ago, in my boyhood, when I worked side by side with my grandfather in order to produce homemade wine from the grapes grown on the 10 acres of vineyards my grandparents owned. I remember we went to the weekly fair organized in my village to sell the wine produced by us, and it was a real success amongst the buyers. Since then, viticulture and winemaking have held a special place in my life and heart.
How do you think a winemaker can help in driving marketing and sales personally?
The connection between the winemaker and marketing & sales teams should always be a strong one it is indispensable that the winemaker shares every detail about the wine he produces with them, so they can create awareness, promote, and sell the wine. Without the passion for wine and the knowledge of the winemaker, it is impossible to create marketing campaigns or presentations of the products for actual/potential partners.
Define a good winemaker
A good winemaker is like an interpreter – he analyzes the work of art of the terroir and interprets it to everyone who has the desire to listen and… taste, making sure to transmit the terroir’s finest subtleties, minimizing his personal influence.
What is the hardest part of a winemaker's job?
In my opinion, the hardest part of a winemaker’s job is ensuring the consistency of the vintages regardless of the grape crop, rain, and other external factors. We put much effort to ensure Purcari wines have the same organoleptic characteristics year by year.
What do you do when you are not working/making wine?
Even if my agenda is full and I don’t really have spare time, sometimes I feel that it is necessary to take a break. During my vacations, I usually spend a lot of quality time with my family, having a festive dinner, meeting friends, or travelling.
What are the current challenges winemakers are facing according to you?
The old world and the new one set some standards in the winemaking industry, which most consumers are aware of. But now, a new frontier world evolves, Château Purcari being part of it. The wineries of the new frontier world have a different approach to the industry, they promote themselves, are proactive, and have a message for the world. Here come one of the biggest challenges winemakers are facing now – how to create and bring on the market novel, out-of-the-pattern wines, beating the existing preconceptions, and setting new standards.
What skill or topic you are learning currently in wine and why?
Currently, I am doing research on various topics related to viticulture and winemaking – the vineyards’ conversion to biological agriculture, the production of non-alcoholic wines, the integration of innovative irrigation systems, but the most important one, to which I pay more attention, is the unusual methods of winemaking, e. g. amphorae fermentation and maturation, nocturnal harvesting, marble cellar, and others. As I said before, it is a must for a winemaker to be thirsty for experiments, so I am deeply studying this field in order to quench my thirst. We recently launched a range of clay amphorae-vinified wines and, although it is a real success, there is always space for innovation and novelty.
Who are your top 3 wine personalities you admire?
What is your idea of a good life?
For me, the definition of a good life is simple: a good life is when you do something that you love, you are good at it, and it gives you the opportunity to help others.
Your favourite 2-3 wine books?
There are 3 books that taught me a lot about wine and its consumers:
1) ”Wine Buyers’ Guide” by Robert Parker
2) ”The Wine Bible” by Karen MacNeil
3) ”The Taste of Wine: The Art and Science of Wine Appreciation” by Emile Peynaud