Two young sisters from the Gîsca village, Transnistrian region, have turned their father's passion into a family business. Alexandra Calașnic and Elizaveta Prihodko have recreated the atmosphere of a French chateau right in their parents' backyard. Now, every visitor can enjoy the tourist experience offered by Kislov Winery, from the vineyard to the courtyard and cellar, all tailored to the French style.
"We, along with my sister, practiced viticulture since childhood. We planted the vineyard when we were teenagers. We were involved in planting, tying the vines, and knew all aspects of vineyard care. However, back then, we were just simple helpers for our parents," recalls Alexandra Calașnic.
The choice of the winery's name was not accidental. It’s a legacy transformed into a legend that highlights the entire business.
"Kislov is the last name of our great-great-grandfather. It's extremely interesting that in 1914, the entire area—the plains and the hills—were covered with his vineyards, where he cultivated grapes 100 years ago," recounts Alexandra.
In 2014, when their father decided to plant vineyards there, they discovered the history of the family's vineyard.
Thus, at the entrance to the cellar, tourists first learn the legend of the place and then discover that, in Kislov, tradition and innovation are harmoniously combined.
"These trays are the heart of our winery, inherited from Alexander Kislov, our great-great-grandfather. Currently, we use them, and they are part of our daily work," says Elizaveta.
While their father is responsible for the wine production technology, the two daughters manage the business plan, promote the winery and attract new opportunities.
In 2022, the young women participated in a grant competition funded by the European Union through the EU Confidence Building Measures Programme, implemented by UNDP. This is how they obtained a grant of 15 thousand euros to equip the cellar with the necessary tools.
"The cellar and the vineyard are not too large. We have a limited number of grape varieties, so we are interested in trying something new. For this, we need additional equipment, which is quite expensive. Thanks to the grant, we purchased French and American oak barrels, allowing us to create a new line of premium quality wines," says Alexandra.
"Fermentation vessels are of immense importance because the quality of the wine is determined precisely here. Without these fermentation tanks, we cannot work. We can operate without additional containers, but we cannot without fermentation tanks...because the fermentation process, the most important process, takes place in these vessels," explains Elizaveta.
In addition to barrels, other types of containers and fermenters, including a capper and a labeler, were purchased.
"This is our capper that we used before receiving the grant. Before, each bottle was manually bottled, only Dad did it, and sometimes we replaced him. It was physically complicated, but now our grandmother performs this operation with just two presses, one, two, so she is also involved in the process," says Elizaveta. Everyone is involved in the family business, including the two sisters, parents, and even grandparents.
Although it is a family business, new jobs are created in the winery, so in addition to the extended family, four more people are employed, who are equally dedicated. Thus, Kislov Winery can produce approximately 6000 bottles of wine annually.
"We care a lot about quality, from cultivating the vine to the last cork in the bottle. Everything is done manually by us, and we are proud of what we offer people. The grant helped us improve the quality even more, so we can fully meet our production requirements," adds Elizaveta.
With over 240 registered wineries and cellars at the National Office for Vine and Wine, it can be more challenging to stand out or show uniqueness. So, to be different and offer visitors something special, Alexandra and Elizaveta have set up an open-air cinema.
"It's a unique idea because no one in our region and in Moldova has a cinema in vineyards. It's something new and romantic, and people are willing to come from afar to experience this," says Alexandra.
"Here we have an open-air cinema, tours, various events, corporate events, weddings. Also, we offer sommelier courses. So, we have a wide range of activities on our territory, and we want to expand them even more," adds Elizaveta.
Thirteen other young entrepreneurs like Alexandra Calașnic and Elizaveta Prihodko were selected through a competition by the European Union’s Confidence Building Measures Programme, implemented by UNDP, to start or develop a business.
The Confidence Building Measures Programme, funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP, contributes to building trust between residents on both banks of the Nistru River by involving them in common development projects.