WTM's Wine Talk | A Conversation with Lorena Deaconu | Halewod Wines | Romania / by Sergiu Saplacan and Aloisia Dauer

Originally published in June 2016.

Sergiu Saplacan and Aloisia Dauer run a Romanian wine-export business, Valachia Weine.  They join WTM to further promote Romania and help heighten awareness of its potential as a wine-tourism destination. You can find them on Facebook and Instagram.

Lorena Deaconu was born in Pitesti, Romania in 1967 and she remains in the country today where she has worked since 2007 for Halewod Wines. After specializing in Oenology at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bucharest, she worked at the Arges Wine Research Institute in Stefanesti. She later worked at Vinexport and Euroavipo Bucharest and from 2002-2006 she was the production director and winemaker at Murfatlar Winery.

Deaconu gained insights in the work of different vineyards and wine cellars during several trips to California, Australia, France and Chile. Today she is regularly invited to judge competitions and is a member of the Romanian Sommelier Society (ADAR), as well as the inspection board of the Romanian agricultural department. Her wines have won numerous national and international awards.

WTM: When did you realize you wanted to be a winemaker?

Deaconu: My journey in the world of wines started back in college, with my first visit at the Research Centre Viti-Vinicola in Stefanesti in the Arges county. There i was fortunate enough to meet some of the best wine researchers, which instilled my passion for wines and guided my first steps into this world.

WTM: What do you love most about your work and why?

Deaconu: The most important and touching moment, but also one of the most difficult, is harvesting the grapes, processing them and the “birth” of the wine. I use every time the word “birth”, because the wines are like the winemaker’s children. If these children are born healthy they will have a great future and a special evolution. But for this the winemaker has to be continuously attentive during the fermentation of the grape must, the future wine, and follow it’s maturation much like a parent watching over the kids.

WTM: When you first started working, what surprised you most?

Deaconu: Playing with red types, the art of “sculpturing” in red wines. I wish to leave my fingerprint on every wine and the joy when the “kids” bring awards.

WTM: What has been the most dramatic change in the industry since you first started?

Deaconu: A big change, and by change I mean evolution, was after 1990, when new vineyards were planted with new varieties and clones. This offered the possibility of establishing new wine cellars with advanced technologies. The credit has to be given also to the winemakers, who adapted rapidly, with  their education and experience in the field managed to help the development of the industry.

WTM: What do you think would surprise someone about Romanian wine?

Deaconu: Our wines can impress with personality and elegance, given by the region where they come from.

Thereby, the wines from Transylvania, mostly white wines, offer a lot of fruity character, a well balanced natural acidity, being tender and easy to drink.

The Dealul Mare is a remarkable region and is famous for the red wines, but also for some white ones. The wines produced here are robust, but balanced and well structured with long and well-defined aromas.

In the Murfatlar region we have 55 hectares of ecological plantings that gives us the possibility to obtain red, elegant wines with a medium body and fine tannins. Even the young wines, offer exceptional aromas. Among the white wines I would mention some that are suitable for maturation in oak such as Chardonnay or Pinot Gris.

WTM: Can you make a single prediction about the future of Romanian wine regions?

Deaconu: The region is in constant development. This means more wine producers, meaning more competition, which will lead to maintaining and improving the quality and the trust of the consumer.

WTM: What do you think will surprise someone visiting Romania?

Deaconu: The strong point of the region is represented by it’s authenticity, the hills and the particular alignment of the vineyards that offer a beautiful scenery.

Also the new investors, big or small, the new wine cellars and the technologies brought by them, as well as the winery tours and special tasting programs. Everything together offers a pleasant first impression.

WTM: What can you tell us that might encourage people to visit Romania?

Deaconu: The beauty of the places and their inhabitants. The fact that almost every family in the area has a small vineyard that is devotedly taken care of.

WTM: What was the first wine you remember tasting?

Deaconu: The first wine that I tasted was a sweet very old white wine (over 20 years), from the Stefanesti research centre wine-cellar. Like every beginner, I was impressed by the colour, the aging – bouquet and unctuousness of the wine, but most of all by its age!! It remains beautifully stored in my mind.