RSS Feeds

Advanced search

You are in:


Restoring perceptions of Romanian wine

Bristol-born Philip Cox is the brain behind Cramele Recas, launched in 1998 and now Romania’s biggest exporter of bottled wine and a major player in the domestic market

Philip Cox Cramele Recas

After finishing university in the UK, Philip decided to move across Europe to Romania in 1991, after realising what great potential the country had to entrepreneurs. As Romania had more-or-less collapsed from half a century of dictatorship and communism, Philip felt a surge of opportunity to help improve the country. 

He says: 'There was absolutely no infrastructure: terrible roads and terrible telephone connections, no real banking system, hyperinflation, few qualified workers, and the shops and restaurants bore little resemblance to ones we would understand in the West. But the most difficult challenge was working with the mentality of people who had lived through communism: they were not used to a competitive society with performance-related pay

“I lived in Bucharest for seven years, where I worked for the large German wine company, Reh Kenderman. I enjoyed, and still enjoy Bucharest, where I have a house. I moved to Timisoara in 2000 after forming our winery company, Cramele Recas. It is a clean, green city, although a little sleepy compared to the capital, and even more so when compared to London.”

Since Philip launched Cramele Recas, there has been a swell of interest in Romanian wines by traders, journalists and real wine enthusiasts. However, the vast majority of UK wine drinkers are still not fully aware that Romania makes wine, which Philip feels is not necessarily a bad thing for mid-level wines because it means they don’t get lumped together with the discounted wines that people have got used to from Spain, Argentina and even Australia.

However, Philip feels it is a bad thing when talking about trying to sell premium wines, where reputation and image is more important. At the moment, Recas’s most successful products in the UK are brands that work with a combination of fantastic packaging designs and wines that over deliver for their price points matched to serious distribution with major companies.

Even though Cramele Recas try to do as much as they can via generic promotional organisations such as Romanian Winegrowers (UK) or APEV (in Romania), Philip believes the best promotion for a country’s wine is to get it on the shelves and sell more of it, so in that sense he has had an effect on the perception of Romanian wines in the UK.

“Our company was the first to get a critical mass of distribution both in the off-trade with partners – Sainsbury, ASDA, Waitrose, Virgin Wines, Londis, Budgens, Majestic, Bargain Booze and Oddbins – and. Importantly. in the on-trade, too, withGreene King, Mitchells & Butler, Mathew Clarke, Alliance wines, Tanners, Adnams, St Austell and Forth Wine.”

Philip Cox is often called an ambassador for Romanian wine by a number of other wineries in the country. Due to Philip’s hard work and perseverance throughout the years, to keep up with demand, Cramele Recas has announced that the winery will this month receive a new state of the art bottling line to increasie its bottling capacity from 10 million to 20 million bottles a year. Annual production was 11,643,148 bottles in 2014.

Philip Cox is the commercial director and a shareholder, along with Elvira Cox, who is export director and also a shareholder. Cramele Recas, which is owned by three families, was launched in 1998  and produces the biggest-selling Pinot Grigio in the UK, sold under various labels. 

1 December 2015