Grape growing and wine production have a long history in Bulgaria. Dating back to the times of the Thracians, recipes have been handed down through the generations from father to son.
The origins of winegrowing in Thrace (modern day Bulgaria) date back so far in time that its roots are mythological: the cult of Dionysus (Bacchus for the Romans), the god of wine, ecstasy and freedom of the senses, originated in Thrace and was subsequently adopted in the Greek pantheon. Wine was therefore a central element in the life of Thracians, a divine drink through which they could reach ecstasy and communicate with the divine. They drank wine before going into war, to dance, to find inspiration and to enjoy freedom.
Key highlights – Danubian Plain (North Bulgarian), Black Sea (East Bulgarian), Thracian and Rose Valley (Sub-Balkan), Thracian Lowland (South Bulgarian), Struma River Valley (Southwest Bulgarian). Boutique hotel Soli Invicto, Edoardo Miroglio winery, villa Yustina, Boyar winery, Windy Hills winery. Your wine tour could be greatly combined with the culural-historical heritage of Bulgaria and its most prominent sights and attractions.
WHEN TO GO AND HOW LONG FOR
Bulgaria is good to visit all year round, however the best time is autumn, spring and summer. If you are a skier, then winter is the perfect time to visit. We recommend a visit of at least 4 days so as to experience as much as possible.
WHERE TO GO
There are vineyards in most areas in Bulgaria; the capital city of Sofia is the only exception. For administrative and geographical reasons, the vineyards are grouped into five regions. Each region has its own distinct features and peculiarities that makes it somewhat different from the rest.
The Northern wine region stretches between Balkan Range (Stara planina) and the Danube. It is very large and extensive and includes many smaller regions with specific microclimates and different soil and climatic characteristics. Good conditions for growing primarily red grape varieties are found in this area - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pamid, Gamza and Pinot Noir - however, some white varieties are also represented including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Aligoté, Tamyanka and Muscat. The region produces good dry white wines, naturally sparkling wines using traditional technology, high-quality red wines with rich fruity flavours. Here the traditions of viticulture and winemaking are highly respected and some of the oldest and largest winemaking centres in the country are in this region - those in Russe, Svishtov, Vidin, Lyaskovets, Suhindol and Pleven. The only Wine Museum in the country is located in the region of Pleven.
The Eastern wine region comprises three sub-regions – the Black Sea, Dobrudzha and Ludogorie. The mild climate is favourable for the cultivation of white grape varieties. These include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc, Dimyat, Rkatsiteli, Traminer, Aligoté and Riesling. The long warm autumn is perfect for the production of excellent semi-dry white wines. Some micro regions also create suitable conditions for cultivation of red grape varieties - Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc. The largest wineries in the region are found in Varna, Pomorie, Burgas, Targovishte, Shumen and Preslav Khan Krum.
The Sub-Balkan wine region includes the territories south of the Balkan Range to the northern slopes of Sredna Gora Mountain and the largest wineries are located around Sliven, Elenovo, Karnobat, Karlovo, Slavyantsi and Sungurlare. The Balkan Mountains create a barrier to keep out the colder northern weather. This generates exceptionally favourable conditions for the cultivation of many grape varieties. The local variety Cherven Misket is typical of this region and produces good white wines. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shevka, Pamid, Chardonnay and Merlot also thrive here. The region is known for its excellent dry and semidry white wines and to a lesser extent for its red wines
The Southern wine region includes the districts of Plovdiv, Haskovo, Pazardzhik, Stara Zagora, Lyubimets and Harmanli, this is the Upper Thracian Plain (Gornotrakiyska nizina) and part of Sakar Mountain. The Balkans provide protection against the extreme cold and high winds from the north. This creates good conditions for the cultivation of red varieties with excellent taste properties - Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rubin. Soil and climatic conditions are also suitable for the cultivation of some white varieties. The districts of Asenovgrad, Pazardzhik and Perushtitsa grow Mavrud - a unique Bulgarian variety. The more important wineries of this region are located in Asenovgrad, Haskovo, Brestovitsa, Stara Zagora and Lyubimets.
The South-western wine region is relatively small and includes the land along the Struma River south of the town of Dupnitsa. The larger wineries of this region are located in Damyanitsa, Sandanski, Blagoevgrad, Petrich and Harsovo. The climate here is very similar to the Mediterranean. The climatic conditions around Melnik and Sandanski are most favourable for growing grapes. The variety Shiroka Melnishka, which grows only here, is important for wine production in the region. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and other varieties are also cultivated.
Without doubt, the most attractive of all is the Thracian Valley. Homer was singing the praises of Thracian wine - loved by the Achaeans - as many as 3000 years ago. At that time, the wine was thick and sweet, and would be diluted with spring water. Only the Thracians themselves used to drink it neat, a habit which was criticized by certain Greek philosophers. It is thought that some native varieties, such as Mavrud and Melnik, one of Winston Churchill’s favourite wines, were already grown on the hills of southern Bulgaria more than 5000 years ago.
You could easily combine your wine tour with visiting rural houses, exploring burial mounds, mountaineering, cycling, biking, hunting, kayaking and yachting and last but not least just enjoying the peace, silence and the beautiful nature all around you.
WHERE TO TASTE
Edoardo Miroglio Winery - this winery is located in the Thracian valley in the village of Elenovo, 22 km from Nova Zagora. The winery is surrounded by vineyards spreading on rolling hills, a lake and green lawns, which provide excellent conditions for the development of wine tourism. The winery produces high-quality Bulgarian wines. Some of them have BIO certificate. Open 365 days and will cost 15-50 EUR per person.
Todoroff Winery - specialising in the production of high-quality red wines of "Mavrud", "Merlot" and "Cabernet Sauvignon" grape varieties in boutique series of limited quantity, this cellar is situated in Brestovitza, one of the symbolic for the Bulgarian wine production villages. Open 9.30-18.00 and will cost 20-48 EUR per person.
Windy Hills Winery - Windy Hills, in the vicinity of the town, Sliven, is an excellent place for cultivation of high-quality grapes. The architectural style of the building gives the impression of cosiness, tradition and style, behind which is hidden a modern wine production plant, open daily for visitors. A hall for wine tasting is situated in the subterranean part of the cellar, where oak casks are forming and aging wines. In the super-terrestrial part of the cellar a restaurant has been designed with 60 seats, with wonderful panoramic views taking in the whole region. Open 9.30-17.00 and will cost 10-30 EUR per person.
Villa Yustina - Villa Yustina's mission is to develop quality wines from Yakata in the Rhodope Mountain and wine tourism in a region with a rich heritage and magnificent scenery. As proof and recognition of their expertise, the winery's technologist won "Enologist of 2011" after a secret vote among Bulgarian enologists. Open 9.30-17.00 and will cost 16-43 EUR per person.
Boyar winery - On the splendid and ancient Anhialo soil, now Pomorie, still continues an ancient tradition – the grape growing and production of high-quality wines and rakia with which the area has been famous throughout its 25 century history. The vision of Boyar is complete with the wide line of products – high quality white and red wines, rakia, liqueur, and brandy. Open 9.30-17.30 and will cost 13-36 EUR per person.
WHERE TO STAY
Soli Invicto boutique hotel – located in the Thracian valley in Elenovo rising above the winery of Edoardo Miroglio. Really unique design, 10 rooms with exclusive interiors.
Park Central hotel – located in the Thracian valley in Sliven. Central location, Excellent hotel with superb restaurant and facilities.
Sport Palace hotel – located in the Thracian valley in Sliven. Large hotel with excellent facilities for sport and superb location in a park.
Panorama hotel – located in the Thracian valley in Sliven's villas zone. Excellent view towards the Nature Park “Blue Stones”, quiet and calm.
White bear hotel – located in the heart of the Nature Park “Blue Stones”. Excellent for relaxingn in the fresh mountain air.
Stelit hotel - located in the heart of the Nature Park “Blue Stones”. Off-the-beaten-path hotel welcoming guests around the world.
WINE AND FOOD FESTIVALS