Shortly after we decided to take the tour ourselves, we made a plan as to how we were going to schedule our times of arrival and departure in each destination so that we can come back the same day and still see everything. It would be stressful we thought, but it had to be done this way as our schedules were busy enough as it was and “taking two days off” as our colleagues “kindly” regarded our investigation as, was impossible. Our idea was not to let anyone know that we were coming, be it wineries, hotels, restaurants, we wanted to surprise them and see how they will react to our unannounced presence. We had to see a lot of locations that day and narrow it down afterwards to just a handful because we wanted our clients to experience as much as possible, but not feel like they are on the run and someone is checking their wrist watch all the time. We wanted to offer a great experience, and “less is more”, remember?
We left on a Tuesday morning a few minutes after 8 o’clock towards Buzau County. Around 10 o’clock we were in the farthest destination of our tour, La Certa Winery.
On our way we took a wrong turn and ended up on an old dusty and rocky side road, which initially we were upset about because it would have taken us longer to get the winery and our car was not exactly perfect for a rocky adventure. Funny enough, our wrong turn was the best kick-start of the journey, because we ended up driving between vineyards, we had a short chat with a shepherd as we were photographing his beautiful flock, we saw an old carriage and signage that we were on the right track: the wine trail! Getting to La Certa wasn’t hard at all and once we got there we felt the love the keepers of the place had for their establishment. Their vineyards in the the Dealu Mare region are positioned at the same level with the Bordeaux, Saint-Emilion as well as the Toscana vineyards, and are prestigious for their rich, complex and silken taste. Their PR was very helpful, even if he was just in the middle of an internal wine tasting and had no time to show us around properly as he mentioned; nevertheless, we got the complete tour of the facilities, the price offer and we even booked our next dates for the actual tour. Plus some pretty great pictures.
Our next stop was Budureasca Winery, the most modern in the country as their PR informed us immediately upon arrival but with a rich history. Located in the heart of Dealu Mare region, in an area with rolling hills, caressed by the sun, Budureasca vineyards represent an ancient place, with deep roots in the history of wine culture. The archaeological evidence found nearby suggests that this place has a particularly rich tradition in winemaking since Dacian times. Budureasca’s winemaker, Englishman Stephen Donnelly, with over 30 years of international experience is known by the media as the “Flying Winemaker” or “Wine Trouble Shooter”. Their PR, Iulian, was busy having a meeting with him, but quickly finished once he heard we wanted to see the estate. He showed us around and then we had a chat about the price offer and dates of booking. He then impressed us by proving to be extremely helpful in finding our next location, the perfect place to have lunch in the area. We had a list of restaurants prepared in advance which we wanted to check out but our initial online research was sub par in terms of the atmosphere we wanted to provide to our guests, that is why we though it would be of extreme importance to also ask the PRs at La Certa and Budureasca what they thought to be the perfect spot to have a nice traditional meal between wine tastings, and surprisingly they both mentioned the same place, Ferma Dacilor (The Dacian Farm). In less then 5 minutes Iulian from Budureasca was leading us with his own car to the farm.
What a sight it was, i remember “wow”-ing a lot in between taking photos of the simple, yet beautiful rustic farm and restaurant. We sat down for a nice cup of coffee and a glass of homemade elderflower lemonade with the owner and their chef who talked a bit about the motivation behind opening this place and their amazing menu offerings (we even bought some amazing tomato/pepper homemade sauce, and a jar of Cabernet Sauvignon Raspberry jam). What really impressed us though, was their passion for sustainability: all the materials used in building the restaurant and the inn, plus the small Dacian style cottages on the way down the valley to the location, were locally sourced, all of the vegetables, fruit and meat used in preparing the restaurant meals were from their own garden and backyard. You could even see the guinea fowls, ducks and horses running free in the yard. “I wanted these animals to live their lives as free as possible, stress-free, eco-friendly; however, I lost about a hundred of them to the foxes at the beginning with this mentality of mine… seems like I had a lot to learn back then and I am still learning now; it is an ongoing process to making it in this business; that is all we care about in the end, growing together step by step, one happy client after another” (Cornel, the owner). Another checked, liked and approved spot for our tour.
Following our wine trail we checked two more spots, but their remote location made it impossible to include them in this one day tour of the wineries. However, we love their wines and should we make an extended tour in the future, we will certainly take our clients there also (Basilescu and Metamorphosis Wineries).
We adored two more spots on our way, which are well worth mentioning and again, in the future included in an extended tour: The Corlateanu Mannor and Bellu Mannor. both beautifully restored, the former being privately owned and having an amazing wine tasting cellar, and the latter owned by the state and functioning as a well-kept museum. Pictures speak for themselves.
In less than one hour and a half we arrived in Sinaia and had an appetising (5 pm) lunch. Thank God for the all the tasty grapes we ate on the way until then from each vineyard that we saw! Well.. due to the extended hospitality of all the people we met on our journey up to Sinaia, we got a bit sidetracked with time, it was after all, a two-days trip that we were trying to make within a maximum time frame of 15-20 hours. Therefor, we had to speed things up and we started the tour of the hotels we selected from Tripadvisor, we saw the rooms and the price offer of 5 locations, fell in love with two of them, and a complex of restored old style villas. We now had options for our groups of 6-10-12 people, all lovely, and from what we could experience filled with helpful staff and at that time we felt we could go home feeling satisfied that we had found a great fit altogether, for our first clients!
We passed by Peles Palace on our way to Bucharest, and we brought back some of the magic of the pretty landscape with gardens built on terraces, all at the edge of dense forests, in our hearts. The Cantacuzino Castle, built in Neoromanian style, we had visited and tested before and we found that it holds an inside strong romantic ambiance paired with a beautiful restaurant offering of exquisite cuisine and on the outside it is surrounded by a park with alleys that take you to a grotto, cascades and fountains.
Once we were back in the office it was time to carefully consider the best plans for the day our clients will spend in Bucharest. We settled on dinner plans at the oldest restaurant and brewery in town, Caru’ cu Bere, with a carefully restored interior and a classic Romanian menu. All we will say about the accommodation in Bucharest is that it is centrally located, within walking distance from all the best sightseeing spots in town, and it has premium, lovely rooms. Now, the Opera! We chose it because of its amazing shows, its divine interior and because it sets the mood for the entire trip: elegant, romantic, spiritual.
We hope you enjoyed reading about our short trip in preparation for your arrival, we welcome your enquiries about the offer and we await your bookings. We can’t wait to get back to these amazing places and share the joy with you this time!