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Bulgaria: a breathtaking land of roses, a famous producer of rose oil, a motherland of yogurt, a sun-kissed country and a popular seaside destination, an affordable ski destination and...a wine country? When you think about wine most likely you imagine France, Italy, Spain... Probably Bulgarian wine is not on your must-try wine list. Though it should be! It's high time to give a chance to Bulgarian wines and let me tell you why...
Bulgarian wine has an immemorial history, ancient wine-making tradition, unique grape varieties as well as prestigious international recognition and an impressive amount of awards, especially in the recent years!
Bulgarian wine and its untold story
Like anything else in the world, Bulgarian wine has its own history and story. Stories are made to be shared. Wine is made to be shared. We want to share it with you the Bulgarian wine story. Make yourself comfortable, pour yourself a glass of wine and explore the story of Bulgarian wine.
Does Bulgarian wine belong to Old World or New World?
Back to the Vine Roots
Bulgaria is one of the oldest winemaking countries in the world. Historical and archaeological research proves the belief that grape vines were first cultivated and produced in the territory of present-day Bulgaria. Evidence can be traced back to the Thracians 6000 years ago.
Thracian elixir of longevity and happiness
The ancient Thracians used wine not only as a drink on the table but channel between people and gods. It was a divine drink.
The Thracian analog of the Greek god Dionysus Zagreus was worshiped by the Thracians as the god of wine and merriment. Evidence for the ancient Thracian traditions in wine production and consumption are the magnificent Thracian treasures, which are mostly wine sets. Even Homer mentioned the Thracian wine in his works. The Greek philosophers Plato wrote: ''Scythians and Thracians drink wine completely undiluted, and believe they are engaging in a fine practice by pouring it over their clothes."
There are over 40 Bulgarian indigenous grape varieties (though not all of them are actively used in the wine production). The most popular are Mavrud, Rubin, Pamid, Ruen, Cherven Misket, Melnik (Melnik 55 and Shiroka Melnishka Loza), Gamza, Gergana, Tamianka along with the most prominent grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Marselan, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc.
Back in time the ancient Thracians believed that with wine they could reach their gods. Thus, we are convinced that the talent for wine growing and winemaking is embedded in the Bulgarian DNA.
Now it is time for the modern Thracians to believe in their wine.
It is not the wine people used to know
Bulgarian wine underwent profound changes. Due to “short” (500 years) break in winemaking, Bulgarian wine's branding and positioning on the world's wine map was interrupted but the Bulgarians never gave up, on the contrary, it gave them a stimulus and power to become better in taste and greater in the name.
DiVino 2016. More than 5000 visitors
Bulgaria was the world’s second-largest wine producer in the 1980s; the fall of communism called last drinks on that party, - wrote Tamara Sheward, the Lonely Planet writer. There were times, when due to the sales on the massive scale of cheap wine, especially to the Russian market, the Bulgarian wines earned a bad reputation but that times are over. With a development of technology and globalization, people have changed their mindset, and thus, their vision and strategy.
Present Times. New Old Wine Making Country
Our winemakers view winemaking as an art. That’s why they always seek new ways to impress, surprise and satisfy the wine lovers.
There is constantly someone who is inventing something whether it is an art or technology or wine. There is someone who is making something of what was previously thought impossible. Among the recent inventions are raspberry wines from Trastena, aronia wine from Aronia Wines, orange wine from Rossidi Winery, organic wines from Orbelia (and others!) and even blue wine "Passion Blue".
Great bottles are always to come, whether from the past or future. Nowadays, Bulgarian wine is a well-balanced combination of the ancient tradition and the state-of-the-art technology.
Awards and Recognition Worldwide
Thanks to such event as Concours Mondial de Bruxelles and The Balkans International Wine Competition and Festival, Bulgarian wine had an excellent opportunity to prove its uniqueness and originality, authenticity and style, quality and competitiveness. The 23th edition of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles was held this year in Plovdiv – the European Cultural Capital of 2019. The wine competition turned out to be a tremendous success for Bulgarian wines. The number of medals given to Bulgarian wines hasn't ever been so substantial. In fact, the record amount of awards in the whole history of Bulgarian wine's participation – 109 medals were given to Bulgarian wine producers. In this way, Bulgaria earned a reputation of a country that produces high-quality wines, because 42% of all 260 Bulgarian wines presented at the world competition won medals, of which 4 Grans Gold medals, 47 Gold medals and 58 Silver medals. And there were over 9 000 wines from 55 countries around the world!
Never before the country from Eastern Europe appeared on the contemporary world's wine map as in 2016. Such a result became possible thanks to the huge investments in new vineyards, state-of-the-art technology, improved know-how, skillful and experienced winemakers. With Stallion Classic 2012 from Angelus Estate, Domaine Boyar’s Korten Natura Mavrud & Rubin 2014, Leva Chardonnay Dimiat & Muscat 2015 from Vinex Slavyantsi and Salla Estate Cabernet Franc 2013 Bulgaria won four Grand Gold medals!
Bulgarian wine producers continue to compete for the prestigious awards on a locals level and present their wines to Bulgarian wine market:
The Balkans International Wine Competition and Festival (Balkans)
Bulgarian wine is a hidden gem but only few out of Bulgaria know about it…yet. Be among the discoverers!
Bulgaria is a new old wine making country as well as the second best wine and travel destination 2017.
Check what the others say about Bulgarian wines and Bulgaria as a wine country:
Who: Wine Enthusiast
What: Thracian Lowlands, Bulgaria | Best Wine Destinations 2017
“Located south of the Balkan Mountains, bounded by the Black Sea to the east and Greece to the south, Bulgaria’s Thracian Valley is considered by many historians to be one of the oldest winemaking regions in the world. Recently unearthed archaeological evidence suggests that wine was made 7,000 years ago by members of the cult of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine.The lowlands have a mild climate, rolling hills and a maritime influence that provide a perfect environment to grow grapes. Base yourself in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second city, to discover indigenous grape varieties, ancient culture and modern winemaking techniques.”
Who: Lonely Planet, Author: Bridget Nurre Jennions
What: A tour of the Balkans
“Mavrud: the taste of Bulgaria’s mountains
The rounded Rodopi Mountains form the backdrop for one of Bulgaria’s five major wine regions, the Thracian Lowlands. Wine has been part of Bulgarian DNA since the times of the ancient Thracians, and one taste of the multi-faceted local favourite Mavrud is a journey back in time. With most wineries located around the second-largest city, Plovdiv, the Thracian Lowlands make an excellent weekend break from elsewhere in Europe or part of a longer exploration of Bulgaria."
Who: In your pocket
What: All about Bulgarian Wine
“Bulgaria! What are the three words that come first to mind? Probably yoghurt, rose oil and wine. Yes, wine! Even though wine immediately comes to mind you no doubt expect cheap wine, placed on the lowest shelves (that's how the British wine consumer knows it anyway). However, in the last 10-15 years Bulgarian wine has undergone a real revolution. Many challenges along the way have helped it win its way back into the hearts of the wine lover. Today Bulgaria can proudly say that it produce world quality wine. And bottles can proudly claim “I am Bulgarian”.”
What: Bulgariana: Value-Driven Wines from the Thracian Valley
“It’s no longer that crap they used to sell to Russia by the millions,” Hayk said. “Bulgarians have so much passion and potential.”
Who: Bulgarian Travel
What: Bulgarian Wine
"In the region of Pleven, in Kayluka park, stands the unique museum of wine in the country. It is the place where visitors can learn much about the history of wine in our lands, the intricacies of tasting, as well as taste various wines. The museum stores about 7,000 exhibits - old wines and containers for wine storage and production. The oldest wine in the museum is almost 100 years old."
Who: Snooth. Drink Great Wine.
What: Bulgarian Wine
"Wine cooperatives were on the rise by the 1920s and 30s. In the 20th century, European varietals were gaining global popularity and many producers saw the need to blend them with native grapes, or produce single varietal styles. During the the height of Communist rule in the 1960s and 70s, much of the wine export market were mass produced reds that gave Bulgarian wine a reputation for being mostly plonk. In 1989, with the fall of Communism, many of the wineries became privatized, with more focus on quality.
Who: Euromonitor International
What: Wine in Bulgaria, Executive Summary, June 2016
“Bulgarian wine has been in the doldrums since its heyday in the 1970s but a new wave of winemakers are looking to put the country back on the map. In recent years, non-traditional grape varietals in Bulgaria such as Pinot Noir, Syrah and others have started to be cultivated. New types with higher yields have also emerged, such as the white Viognier and the Spanish Tempranillo, taking up 3-4% of the total area. These trends have been driven by demand for new and unusual tastes and the further development of wine lists by restaurants with a focus on quality”.
What: Top 3 Wine Finds Plovdiv, Bulgaria
“If you’re a wine lover, we encourage you to try something new and keep your eyes open for a Bulgarian wine near you. We promise, you’ll be surprised!”
Who: dc refined
What: Why should you be drinking Balkan Wine
“Some of these countries are home to the most ancient winemaking regions,” explains Robert Hayk, CEO and founder of G&B Importers, who imports wines from the Balkans and other regions. “The Thracian Valley, which covers half of Bulgaria, northern Greece and northwest Turkey, was cited by Homer to [produce] the best wine in the known world.”
Who: Kashkaval Tourist
What: 7 unique Bulgarian wine varieties you must taste
“Did you know that Bulgaria was the second largest producer of wine in the world in the 1980s? Today, the country may not be producing wine on such a massive scale, but its thousand-year-old winemaking traditions continue to deliver high-quality and affordable Bulgarian wine.
Indeed, vine growing and winemaking have been part of Bulgarian culture since time immemorial. Thousands of years ago in what is today Bulgaria, the ancient Thracians were consuming wine from elaborate gold vessels in the shape of animals and mythical creatures. And who wouldn’t grow wine in Bulgaria – its sunlit hills, fertile soils and geographic latitude (equivalent to central Italy or southern France to the west) provide the perfect vine growing conditions practically all over the country.”
Who: Bansko Blog, Author: Lance Nelson
What: Top Bulgarian Wines: My Winner
"The short and honest quote from the article: Bulgarian wine is well worth investigating ….uhh, well, drinking really."
Who: Bulgaria Wine Tours, Authors: Zina Sorensen and Vasil Zlatev
What: Bulgarian Wine Key Figures
"In 2014 Bulgaria exported 43 269 900 liters of wine. 68% was exported to the EU. 85% of the exports was bottled wine and 15% was bulk. Domestic consumption was 11,9 liters per capita; out of which 10,93 liters per capita was consumption of local wines."
Who: The Guardian, Author: Fiona Beckett
What: Wine: Bulgaria’s making a comeback
"Bulgarian wine has been in the doldrums since its 1970s heyday, but its new wave winemakers are looking to put the country back on the map."
Explore the latest stories. The most influential people of the Bulgarian Wine Industry:
The most Influential People of the Bulgarian Wine Industry: Welcome Zina & Vasil from Bulgaria Wine Tours
The Most Influential People of the Bulgarian Wine Industry: Welcome Donka Kosturska-Nikolova and Dimitar Nikolov from Apollowine
And more stories are yet to come!
Wine Events in Bulgaria
Curious about wine events in Bulgaria? Wondering where to find all the upcoming events? Tired of missing the events that you'd like to visit?
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Thank you! And as Bulgarians say: "Nazdrave"!