Producing wine for more than a century, Kara Gani Winery has turned a hobby into a business for the Cerven family. “We are the fifth generation to produce home wine. Gagauzia is a region famous for its good wines,” says the owner of Kara Gani Winery, Larisa Cerven.
When deciding to open their own winery, the Cerven family chose organic production from the very beginning.
Kara Gani now has 21 solar panels, thanks to the Support for Agriculture and Rural Development in ATU Gagauzia and Taraclia District (SARD) Programme. Financed by the European Union with €6.5 million and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme, the SARD Programme supports collaboration between central and local authorities, as well as regional organisations from the Gagauzia and Taraclia districts. By supporting cooperation, it aims to contribute to the social and economic development of the region, and of the Republic of Moldova in general. The SARD Programme conducts activities to empower communities, rehabilitate social infrastructure, promote inter-municipal cooperation and implement the European initiative of rural development.
“We had a problem with the electrification of the winery and decided to create a project based on the winery’s energy security, at the same time bringing our work closer to green energy. We have plans to start organic production and this project is our first step in this direction,” Larisa says.
“They installed the panels in two weeks. Today, they are working very well and we already see the results of our work and feel concrete savings.”
“We save about 60% of the electricity consumption. These panels mean significant aid. We also enjoyed consultation under the project. Specialists came and analysed our business. They monitored the company that installed the panels for us and we felt backed-up with support,” the winery director explains.
Because the region is sunny, the winery provides its own renewable and sustainable energy from spring to fall.
Larisa’s husband, Gheorghe Cerven, directly deals with wine production. He says that the solar panels have reduced the costs of producing wine: “We have become competitive with the aid of the panels because energy costs are high. The cooling equipment and installations use a lot of energy in the production season.”
“A sunny day produces 10 kilowatts, while the equipment and the fridges use 8 kilowatts. We can virtually produce without spending energy. In summer, we use air-conditioners that use a lot of energy. Tourism-related activities also require electric power. The electric kitchen appliances consume a lot as well,” Gheorghe explains.
In 2017, the winery produced its first lot of bottles of wine under the Kara Gani brand. The wine immediately won medals in international competitions.
Larisa Cerven says that the Kara Gani winery emphasises Gagauz traditions and culture. “We position ourselves as producers of wine with Gagauz details. We highlight the fact that it is family wine - family bonds have always been developed in Gagauzia.”
The winery has recently launched a new line of wine named ‘Ciotra.’ Ciotra is a wooden container that people pour wine into before going around inviting others to wedding or christening parties. According to the Gagauz tradition, you must pour the best wine into the ciotra.
Kara Gani Winery’s fame has spread beyond the country’s borders, although the winery does not export its products yet. Connoisseurs from all corners of the world visit the winery. The Cervens, therefore, have plans to grow the business. They are currently producing 10 thousand bottles per year, but will increase this to 40 thousand next year. They are also starting to discuss exporting to Europe.
“We already have agreements with our European partners. I think we will manage to export the first trial lot this year. We are curious to know how our wine will be assessed abroad,” Larisa remarks.
As the winery has become a tourist attraction, the owners are also planning to build a hotel on its grounds.
Larisa, who is responsible for developing the winery’s tourism, says the numbers of tourists have doubled this year: “Last year, we had 300 tourists, and their numbers doubled this year. We have reached 600.”
The SARD Programme aims to contribute to the development of the agri-food sector, promotion of local entrepreneurship, creation of jobs, and to increasing the revenue of the population of ATU Gagauzia and the district of Taraclia. Supporting the transition to renewable energy is one of the ways that the EU can reach these goals.
Author: Adriana Vlas