Asconi was founded in 1994 following the fall of the USSR. The winery itself was built in 1964 and was a facility for the processing of grapes and grape juice into wine. The wine was then transported somewhere else for treatment and bottling.
Asconi acquired the winery in 1994 and immediately started investments into redevelopment and modernization. We transformed the winery into a self sufficient facility where processing, treatment, storage and bottling were all done in one location.
We also started planting our own vineyards in 2004. The size of the current plantation is 506 hectares and has varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot,Malbec, Feteasca Neagra, Saperavi, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Muscat Ottonel and others.
Currently we employ 20 office staff, 50 winery staff, and around 100-200 seasonal workers in the vineyards depending on the amount of work there is.
Our wine is made 100% from our own grapes and this way we can control the quality of the wine from the time of the harvest till it is bottled and transformed into a final product for our customers. We have moved away from a manual labor method and switched to mechanized production of grapes. A lot of the operations that used to be done by hand such as pruning and dry pruning are now done with the help of machinery that is more efficient and better at doing the job. For the top quality premium wines we still harvest manually. The rest of the grapes are harvested with grape harvesters working both night and day. White grapes for example are harvested at night because the temperatures are lower and that allows us to preserve the maximum amount of aroma for white wines which are quite sensitive to heat.
Our future plans include expansion of the total size of the plantation to 800 hectares. At this size we will be close to maximum capacity. Currently, are planting 90 hectares last year and expanding on our varietal numbers which will include grapes such as Prosecco (Glera), Ancellotta, Muscat Gold, Muscat Rose, Malbec, Feteasca Neagra.
The production section of the winery was knocked down and rebuild from zero in 2004. We built a new building and equipped it with the most advanced machinery available at that time. We installed 4 production lines complete with 4 grape hoppers 4 de-stemmers, 4 crushers and pumps. Three Italian Technofood pneumatic presses for grapes we installed with a maximum capacity of 30 tons each. Another press (Vaslin Buscher Intertis) was installed in 2012. This press is the most modern in the world currently and it can press grapes in an inert gas environment, meaning that there is 0% chance of oxidation that can occur while pressing. This will be used for white wines and rose wines.
In addition to the production section a primary fermentation section was also built. It contains 72 fermentation tanks with a capacity of 30 000 liters for each tank. All the tanks are connected to a temperature control system which can maintain 10 degree Celsius temperature even on a day with 35-36 C heat. A secondary fermentation section was also built in 2010 in order to expand the capacity of grapes we can process in the harvesting season. This section has 8 tanks of 15 000 liters each, 16 tanks of 30 000 liters each and 12 tanks of 50 000 liters each. All the tanks are made from food industry grade stainless steel.
All the wine is stored in stainless steel tanks. For the top quality premium wine, oak aging is performed prior to storage in stainless steel or bottling. We have currently close to 1 000 oak 225 Liter barrels from various producers. We have French, American and Hungarian oak wood barrels. The best wines from the most successful seasons are selected in a limited quantity and placed into our collection room which holds around 150 000 to 300 000 bottles of wine. In our collection we have wines as old as 1990. Those bottles of wine require a lot of maintenance because we have to maintain a constant temperature, humidity level and in addition to that we have to check the corks regularly to make sure they are holding as they should be.
The old bottling lines are sold and replaced with a new one in 2011. We build a building specially designed for bottling and post bottling storage. The line itself is new and has all the capabilities that we require and can bottle anything from budget wines to top quality premium wines in a lot of different configurations. The line is capable of bottling at speeds of 8 000 bottles per hour. It has two pre bottling filtration units including a microfiltration system that filters on the micron level. The bottles are rinsed, dosed with inert gas so there is no in bottling oxidation, filled with wine, then the cork or screw caps is put in, labeled and boxed. After that the wine is put on pallets and stored for loading either in truck or container.
We export 99% of all our production with only this year starting limited sales locally. Local sales we of no interest to us because of market oversaturation, but recently a demand for higher quality wines has appeared and we are taking advantage of it. The rest of our efforts are focused on export. The countries that we work with are: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Poland, Greece, Serbia, Israel, Kazakhstan, USA, Japan, French Guiana, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Uganda, China, and others. Our current main targets are the East Asian Market and Latin American Market.