Dealu Mare vineyard is situated on the southern Subcarpathian hills, covering hills and valleys located between the river Teleajen to the west and the river Buzău to east. The vineyard is bordered to the north by an area with high hills and forests, and to the south by a limit that matches, for the Călugărească Valley wine center, the national road Ploiești – Buzău and which, starting from Urlaţi to Buzau, withdraws to the foot of the slope to a distance of 2-3 km north of the road. As a settlement, Dealu Mare vineyard is situated between parallels 44°59′ – 45°32′ north latitude and 26°02′ – 27°00′ east longitude. In terms of geomorphology, it is part of the great unity of the Subcarpathians of curvature, wherein the vineyards lay on slopes, hills and valleys. The massif vineyard stretches over a length of about 65 km and has a width ranging between 3 and 12 km. Administratively speaking, the vineyard lies in the counties of Prahova and Buzău. Within the wide space formed by the vineyard, one can find the following wine centers: Boldeşti, Valea Călugărească, Urlați-Ceptura, Tohani, Breaza-Buzău, Merei and Zorești.
The existence of vines in this area is confirmed by archaeological excavations, pottery remains and the toponymy which confirms the presence of vineyards in ancient times. The first written documents related to the existence of vine culture in this part of the country dates back to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. From these documents it appears that Ceptura, Valea Călugărească, Valea Mantei and Valea Popii were well-known places, appreciated for the quality of the wines they produced. About the Dealu Mare vineyard, old foreign writings said that it produced an “oily, strong and durable” wine, likening it to the best wines produced in other countries. From the documents of that era, it seems that the most famous wine center of the vineyard was “Cepturile”, later known as “Cepturi”, today Ceptura. Probably the vineyards of the old Cepturile included a much larger area than the one which currently belongs to the Ceptura village nowadays. In the past, the vineyards of the winery were well and harmoniously represented by the cultivation of several types, distributed in a well established proportion and produced a highly sought after wine. Thus, Dimitrie Cantemir shows that the Tabla Buții pass, next to Bratocea, was a well known customs point through which the wines from Dealu Mare were crossed to Transylvania. That was the way that the messengers of Prince Rakoczy of Transylvania descended to Wallachia in order to purchase wine.
Over the years, the culture of grapevine has become a tradition that has been passed from generation to generation, being part of the lifestyle of wine growers villages. Vineyards represent a strive to add economic value to the less fertile land of hills, and also a way of protecting the environment and enhancing its value without affecting its integrity.
The white wines from the Dealu Mare winery are characterized by a dense and concentrated flavour, a well balanced structure and good acidity, rendered by the south-east exposure of the slopes, but also the cultural practices that maintain the production at moderate levels.
The red wines produced in Dealu Mare are known for their finesse, smooth tannins and bright colour, such as those from the wine centers of Valea Călugărească and Urlaţi, where the influence of the reddish-brown soils, rich in ferric salts becomes obvious. At the same time, in other famous centers such as Ceptura, Tohani, Merei, red wines are more robust, vigorous, with an increased colour intensity – characters given by the heliothermic resources and light textured soils.
The natural setting. The lithology is represented by facies belonging both to Levantine and Villafranchian ages, with a succession of gravels, sands and argils which formed hardened sediments consisting of argils, clays, sands and gravels.
The soils. In the vineyard one can meet a wide variety of soils, due to the kneading but also to the active erosion phenomenon that the region went through. The western part of the Dealu Mare massif presents soils formed on red argils, marlstone and in a lower proportion on fine reddish sands. Usually, the alternations between layers of clay and sand, tilted with the slope, can cause landslides, a process quite frequently met in the vineyard. These high content iron oxide soils are remarkably suitable for cultivating red wine varieties.
Soils in the eastern part of the massif are based on Sarmatian limestones, clays, sandstones and dacitic tuffs, fine sand deposits alternating with gravel composed of fragments of crystalline rocks, loams and löess. As a genetic type, prevailing on the west, we find the weathered reddish-brown forest soils and in the east rendzina, pseudo-rendzina and, to a lesser extent, the solidified sandy soils. In some centers there are skeletal soils with a shallow bedrock and with a high content of calcium carbonate, which favors aromatic wines. Towards the plain, there are rich black chernozemic soils, and in the northern part there are brown forest soils. As a result of the erosion process, the fertility of the soils is low, and therefore it is necessary to regularly administer organic and mineral fertilizers.
The relief. Geological research shows that the Dealu Mare massif took the form that it has today, at the end of the Pliocene (sublevel Levantine) after the tectonic movements that lifted up the Carpathian Mountains. In some places, on the slopes, the Levantine deposits resurface. The hilly massif is crossed by numerous valleys generally opening to south-east, which defines a series of almost parallel hills, whose altitude ranges from 134-170 meters towards the plain, and 460-550 meters in the higher hills. The general orientation of the valleys from north to south, creates favorable conditions for grapevine culture, occupying both sides of the hills. The exposure of the slopes is predominantly towards south, south – east, and south – west. The grapevine is mainly cultivated on slopes with an inclination varying between 8% and 30% and to a lesser extent on steeper slopes. Landscape evolution tends to deepen the valleys and emphasize the slopes through an intensified erosion process, which increases towards the center and the western limit of the vineyard.
Hydrography. Main rivers (Buzãu, Cricovul Sãrat, Teleajenul) have important volume flow rate even in seasons with low rainfall, and the streams on the tilt of Dealul Mare have low volume flow rates and a torrential drainage system. The phreatic waters are discontinuous, with variable volume flow rates in the Subcarpathian area, and are particularly rich in glacis piedmont plain. The aquifers at the base of the coarse accumulative terraces are also rich. Overall we believe that the vineyard has sufficient good quality water reserves.
Climate. Meteorological data recorded over a period of 30 years shows that the annual average temperature ranges in the western part of the vineyard around 10.8°C and in the east around 11.2°C. Winters are relatively short, and the cold becomes more intense in January and also in the first half of February. The average temperature of the coldest month (January) is -2.1°C, ranging between -9.5°C and +4.3°C. The critical temperature when grapevine buds risk to freeze is more likely to occur in the valleys and plains and rarely on slopes. On the hill, the minimum temperatures are higher by about 3°C than on the plain, and the frequency of cold winters is much lower. Therefore vineyards planted on the hill can overwinter without danger of freezing. The last spring frost is occurs on or around 10th of April and the first autumn frost occurs on average on the 30th of October. The frost-free interval spans on average over 202 days. The average temperature of the warmest month (July) is +22.4°C, showing variations between +20.7°C and +25.6°C.
The number of days with average temperature above 10°C ranges from 175 to 226. The sum of active temperatures is between 3300 and 4040. During the days with temperatures above 10°C (in the western part of the vineyard) there are 1551 hours of insolation, out of the total of 2056 hours annually. The total number of hours of sunshine in the east of the vineyard is 2146. Generally speaking, Dealu Mare vineyard heliothermic resources are high, favoring a good ripening of the fruit and vine wood. The vineyard benefits from the shelter that the Carpathian hills provide, hills which gradually increase in altitude, forming a shield against the cold draft coming from north, north – west and north – east. The rainfall is more abundant in the western part of the vineyard -587.7 mm and decreases eastward-508 mm. The water that is stored in the ground during winter favors the first period of vegetation the intense growth of shoots and the rain in early summer stimulates grape growth. During the grape maturation phase (August – September) rainfall is lower, favoring ripening. Summer rains are sometimes torrential, causing erosion of humus horizon or even the entire profile on the land with steep slopes.
Hail, although common, has a local effect and causes extensive damage only in certain years. This meteorological phenomenon occurs with greater intensity in the eastern part of the vineyard, in the centers of Tohani, Merei and Zorești. Wind speed is approx. 3.3 m/s in the west and 3.6 m/s in the east, but sometimes strong winds and even storms occur, with speeds up to 23 m/s. In general, wind is stronger in spring months, causing rapid air drying of the soil. In summer, the winds are moderate and contribute to a good ventilation of the plants.