On the gentle hills of southern Transylvania, in the heart of what came to be known as Wine Country, lies Jidvei, an old Saxon settlement, and the vineyard of the same name, one of the most prestigious in the country.
Situated in Alba County, on the Tarnave’s Valley, Jidvei has been known for more than 700 years as a center of winemaking. Today, the vineyard and the wine factory in Jidvei are producing top quality wines destined to the Romanian and international markets.
The ancient Greek historian Herodotus talked about the areas in Dacia north of the Carpathian Mountains, calling its inhabitants crafty winemakers.
In the 13th century, the Saxons, German colonists that settled throughout Transylvania, arrived in the Jidvei area, bringing with them clones of the grape vine varieties in their homelands. This explains why Jidvei is considered the second motherland of the famous German Traminer wine.
While Jidvei is not a particularly warm area, the climate of the Tarnava Plateau favors the slow oxidation of the components in grapes, which produces a relatively slow accumulation of sugars and preserves the grapes acidity.
The Jidvei vineyards occupy about 2000 hectares of hilly terrain, with mostly southern exposure.
The Jidvei winery was established as an industrial winemaking center in the 1950s, and privatized in 1999. Following privatization, the winery developed tremendously, now exporting much of its production. The winery makes several collections of wines, such as Castel, Tezaur, Grigorescu, Clasic, and Nec Plus Ultra. Some of the best wines for which Jidvei is known for are Pinot Gris, Dry Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Feteasca Alba, Dry Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. In general, Jidvei focuses on white wines, and also produces an excellent sparkling wine.
The Jidvei winery has an extensive wine collection, including many limited series wine that make excellent souvenirs. Every year, the Jidvei winery contributes to the organization of a national traditional folk music festival called the Golden Grape.
Located nearby Jidvei, Cetatea de Balta (The Citadel of the Pond), was for centuries a major center of political power in Transylvania. One of the best preserved monuments is the Bethlen Castle, also known as Haller Castle, after the name of its last owner. The edifice, erected between 1580 and 1590 in the French Renaissance style and rebuilt in 1615-1624 in the Baroque style is well preserved and now serves as a space for wine tasting for the Jidvei winery. For years, the castle was used to store champagnes, but the castle has been beautifully restored in recent years. A number of original elements, such as the old wooden stairs from the 16th century, are still preserved.
There are several fortified churches in the area around Jidvei, the oldest being built in the 13th century. Like other examples throughout Transylvania, the fortified churches in the Tarnave Plateau had large walls, towers, and moats to protect them from the attacks of invading Turks and Tatars.