The recently concluded 2023 edition of the Awards for Excellence in the Romania Hotel, Tourism and Hospitality Industry has designated the most attractive wine tourism offers as being Panciu Winery & Resort Domains (3rd place), the Bethlen-Haller Castle of the Jidvei company (second place) and Conacul Apogeum (first place).
We congratulate our partners at Jidvei for their success, especially since the castle’s renovation has just finished. And, perfectionists as we know them to be, owners of many records (including the largest gravitational wine cellar in Europe!), we have no doubt that winning the first prize is only a matter of time. For wine lovers in Transylvania, our advice is: make some time and take tour of the wineries, ending with an evening at the Bethlen-Haller castle! Stories told by those who create the wine, local gastronomy (from pike roe to big game!), from state-of-the-art wineries with the latest technology to the "step-by-step" understanding of what managing such a large area means, while still being a family business – everything contributes a true and unforgettable experience.
The Bethlen-Haller Castle was built in the Renaissance style by the Transylvanian chancellor’s father, Miklos Bethlen, between 1560 – 1624, after which it was remodeled in a Baroque style between 1769 and 1773. The renovation completed three years ago captures in detail the medieval atmosphere, from the outside to the last detail inside, without avoiding, however, the needs and advantages of modernity. At the time of construction, the castle, a square center fortified by four towers, was inspired by the castles of the Loire Valley, being more of a hunting and leisure destination / the Bethlen family’s vacation home, than a fortification with a defensive role.
Bethlen-Haller Castle is just one of the medieval buildings erected by the Bethlen family. Another gem owned by the Jidvei company and undergoing restoration is the Bethlen Castle in Miclaus, built by Miklos-Bethlen between 1668 and 1673 and developed later, until the first decades of the 18th century. The castle, which became known for having the most beautiful historical garden in Transylvania, served for a while as the sparkling wine section of the former state-owned farm Jidvei. It is possible that some remember it as a filming location used in the movie "Horea", released in 1984.
Investments in wine tourism have become a priority for Romania, especially in the context of the apparently accelerated development of the infrastructure. From an absolute zero less than 20 years ago, the destinations connected to the production (and consumption) of wine began to emerge, timidly, but significantly. In fact, Casa Timis, another wine producer from Dealu Mare, was also awarded a medal in this edition of the hotel industry awards, as a resort destination.
Wine tourism, fuel for a country brand
The global wine tourism market is estimated to reach 30 billion euros in 2030. But beyond the capital influx, the revitalization of local businesses or the benefits brought to rural slow food gastronomy, wine tourism primarily brings benefits that are difficult to measure for local brands. A pleasant and complete experience leads to the most effective (and affordable) type of promotion – from a satisfied customer to a potential future customer. Or, as they say, by word of mouth. And the gates to the international markets might be much easier to break open if there already were some satisfied customers in the respective countries. Something that, in turn, would bring immeasurable benefits to the country’s brand, with all the derived implications. Good wine and good food, especially with good people, were and will always be the key to the soul of any citizen of the world. We, anyway, look forward to visiting every winery that can be visited and sleep wherever there is a bed installed next to the cellar. After moderate consumption, obviously!