Dayton – An appreciation for the heritage and the products originating from one of the oldest wine producing nations in the world inspired Brandon Snell is launch Soroca Imports in 2014. Now the company, which features one of the largest assortments of Moldovan wines in North America, has introduced its own brand, Cellar Another.
A collaboration between Soroca Imports, Dayton cartoonist Nate Fakes (who started his career at Mad Magazine) and Moldova-based Asconi Wines, Cellar Another includes four items: Naked Penguin Moscato, Pour Mozart (a blend of Cabernet and Feteasca Neagra), 9 Names Chardonnay and Beethoven’s 10th (Cabernet). The humor-rich personalities of Snell and Fakes are reflected in the whimsical names and labels. The branding and marketing illustrate Snell’s desire to make wine fun for connoisseurs and newcomers alike.
“Across the nation, especially in Dayton, there is a wave of impressive breweries opening and growing. You see a lot of small wineries and micro brands in places like Napa Valley and Oregon, of course, but not as much in Ohio,” Snell explained. “We want to educate people about the quality of Moldovan wines while also providing an inviting product that is entertaining and memorable to experience.”
A glance at Cellar Another’s marketing copy shows that the brand is enlivened with a sense of humor”
“This project was a coalescence of awesomeness, purposefully intended to be our humble way of improving the world while turning our licentious lifestyles into rewarding careers of professional partying. More or less, it was a selfless and altruistic act intended to turn our bar tabs into tax write offs.
Cellar Another wines are great for any and every occasion. They pair perfectly with any glass and are the perfect complement to any Sunday morning hangover. It should be noted that drinking this much awesomeness inevitably leads to new levels of bourgeoisie enlightenment, that leads to meeting sophisticated friends who appreciate art and micro-financing. Your new appreciation for esoteric sports, such as dressage, and other fancy things, will cause random strangers to assume that you’re an Ivy League college professor. So sit-back, relax, over pour your wine-stein, and let the braingasm begin!”
Hailed as the Napa Valley of Eastern Europe by Snell, Moldova is nestled between Romania and the Ukraine. The country has a population of three million residents, of which 25 percent work in the wine industry. Moldovans consume the most alcohol per capita in the world, and their country – which is shaped like a bunch of grapes – is the 13th largest wine producing country in the world. Moldova also boasts the largest underground cellar in the world, 124.2 miles in size, composed of old caves that were once used for limestone mining. Now, the country’s wines are making their way to the United States, and Soroca Imports is leading the effort. Snell, who earned a master’s degree in international and comparative politics from Wright State University in 2009 and calls himself a “a connoisseur of new experiences,” has Moldovan roots in his family.
Moldova is situated on prime grape growing land, and wine has been produced there since the 1400s. Vineyards cover more land in Moldova than in any country in the world. In fact, around seven percent of Moldova’s geographical area is adorned with vines. There are some indigenous Moldovan grapes that are still raised, such as Feteasca Alba “White Maiden,” Feteasca Neagra “Black Maiden,” and Feteasca Regala “Royal Maiden,” among others, and all three of these unique varietals are supplied by Soroca Imports. However, the bulk of the wine production features grapes brought in from France, Italy and Romania after World War II.
Moldova was home to the largest grape-growing area in the Russian Empire until the vineyards suffered during the two World Wars. The Soviet Union restored the wine-growing regions after World War II, and wine production returned to pre-World War II levels by the 1960s. In fact, of the wines imported by Snell, Castel Mimi, was among one of the largest wine producers during the Soviet era.
Melissa Metzger is a devoted wine enthusiast. The owner of Zink’s Meats & Fine Wines in Centerville hosts wine tastings every Wednesday and Thursday, and a monthly wine dinner. Amid the fine wines that adorn the shelves inside Zink’s comfortably elegant space, Snell served dozens of bottle of Cellar Another and additional wines from Soroca Imports at an early December event. Metzger is selective to the point that she personally tastes a wine before adding it to Zink’s inventory, and she keeps a descriptive journal of each wine.
“Moldovan wines are so appealing because of their taste, but also because of their story. After all, the original vine is from Moldova, and there is a fascinating history of wine production there,” Metzger said. “Cellar Another’s wines are popular because they combine old world charm with the attractive and interesting names and labels. They draw a wide range of people, from twentysomethings who are novices about wine to seasoned wine drinkers who appreciate trying something different.”
Recent history contributed to Snell’s efforts to make Moldova a widely known name in the North American wine circles. Wine production emerged as one of Moldova’s most prominent economic engines after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, reaching 7.5 percent of the value of all exports. In 2013, when the country announced it would join the European Union, Russian President Vladimir Putin banned the importing of Moldovan wine. At the time, Russia was the largest importer of Moldovan wine.
“That presented an opportunity for North America to experience Moldovan wines since there was a need for a new market,” Snell said. “I have an entrepreneurial spirit, and the market for Moldovan wines in the United States especially is mostly untapped. And it is that entrepreneurial spirit that led to the creation of Cellar Another, which we intend to evolve.”
Currently, Soroca Imports distributes its selection of Cellar Another and other Moldovan wines to specialty shops like Zink’s Meats & Fine Wines, Rumbleseat, A Taste of Wine, Brunings, and the Cellar, and online at www.sorocaimports.com. The Cellar Another website is www.cellaranother.com.