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PostSubject: Wines of Bulgaria   Thu Sep 15, 2011 9:56 am

I've trawled the net and found as much information as I can but I'm sure there is a lot more and I'm also sure you too can add your comments here about the wines of Bulgaria. I will try and add to this as time goes by and maybe write something about a different wine every week. s

It's a fact that geographically the land that Bulgaria now sits on may well be the first region where vines were planted and wine produced. The Wine Cellar, may also be a Bulgarian invention since monasteries in the country were the first to have been reported storing wine in cool vaults deep under the ground level.
Wine making during the Middle Ages and Ottoman rule although banned, continued 'underground'. After Bulgaria's liberation, wine making was once again permitted and there was a major revival. Economic progress after liberation was helpful for the beginnings of the Bulgarian wine industry.
Eventually, Bulgaria began to establish first class wineries with names such as the Sjarovi Brothers.
As a whole, Bulgaria continued to produce wine for immediate consumption but there was a problem with oxidization. This meant that only a limited amount was suitable for being cellared.
During the communist regime, wine making was, like most other industries, turned into a state controlled business, with its market export restricted to its communist neighbours. Although there were the foundations, the standard of wine was not high and the technology remained non-progressive.
The 1980s arrived, and 'Vinprom' a state owned wine company began to trade with non-communist European markets.
With the fall of communism in 1989 and the loosening the government stranglehold, Bulgarian wine makers began to share technology and shed their insular way oif thinking.
This had a major affect of the quality of the wine which had now grown in popularity worldwide.

The Five Wine Making Regions of Bulgaria each have their own distinct wine with individual characteristics, but all have quality vines which improve every year.

Northern Region

High quality wines are produced from a number of different grapes, red as well as white. The reds are made from the local Gamza variety of grape as well as from the majestic Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc are the most popular white wines. This region is home to the first class wineries such as Suhindol and Rousse.

Eastern Region

The wines from the Eastern region are made mostly from white grapes. Almost all white grape varieties may be found in this area as well as with the native Misket and Dimiat. The white wines from this region are of a rather spicy characteristic and loved by Bulgarians, East and South Europeans who have a leaning to wines of this nature.

Balkan Region

Based in the Southern foot of the Balkan Mountains, these valleys produce micro climates unique to wine growing. The excellent Sungurlare Misket comes from there as well as the superb Sungurlare Eau deVie. White wines from different grapes are a local speciality. Slavjantzi is a popular winery from this region.

Southern Region

The Tracian Valley runs from the Balkan mountains through to the Greek border with an almost Mediterranean climate. These conditions are particularly good for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot production.
The best variety of grape is Mavrud which grows in the Tracian Valley. Reds coming from this region are second to none, with particular mention of Yambol and Haskovo areas.

South Western Region

otherwise known as the Pirin Macedonia, the Struma Valley has good "
weather and produces lovely Cabernet's. Melnik is the home of the Melnik variety of grape which is aromatic and produces a fine wine that ages very well.
The first choice in wine from this region is Damianitza. Another good local variety is Keratzuda.

The potential for wine making in Bulgaria is enormous. The climate in the northern part of the country is continental with cool winters and hot summers. It is milder to the south due to the influence of the Black sea and the Mediterranean. Furthermore, hilly landscapes create a perfect micro-climate with good quality soil providing a "
God-sent Environment"
for growing best quality grapes.
Bulgaria has several well developed wine technology institutes. The most forward and modern of these is based in Plovdiv in the centre of the country. The best wines are produced from the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties. High quality, rich Bordeaux-like wines result.

Local grapes varieties in the main consist of:

• Gamza - the most popular grape produces an earthy, light bodied red wine good for simple everyday drinking, hence a Bulgarian favourite! Incidentally, in Romania and Hungary it is known as Kadarka.
• Melnik - grown in the southern regions of the country, this makes full bodied red wines that age extremely well.
• Mavrud - makes a full bodied, spicy red wine that can be cellared to an age of more than 8 years.
• Pamid - basically quite rustic but still good enough for the commercial market and again for daily drinking.

White wines are produced from well known varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling. Many are also produced from the local varieties such as Misket, Ottonel, and Dimiat.
Whites are generally seen as the bridesmaid of Bulgarian wine with the reds being so good.
There are however some white wines that hold their own against any quality white wine in the world.

Bulgaria is currently the second largest exporter of bottled wine in the world and has four times the area producing Cabernet Sauvignon compared to California. It must be the fastest growing wine producer in the world, and with new investment from the EU this will accelerate.
Current production levels run at over 200 million litres which substantially increase as each year passes and new vineyards mature. There are thousands of acres of new vineyards being planted in many prime areas all being funded with EU money. You can see some of these as you drive from Sofia to Bourgas on the highway.

Rakia is Bulgaria's national drink. It is part and parcel of everyday life here, and somehow Bulgaria wouldn't be the same without it.
Rakia and Salad"
, is a combination unsurpassed and is the perfect complement of food and drink in Bulgaria.

For many generations rakia has been made in the Bulgarian villages, just like its younger sister, wine. There is much talk about who has the best rakia in the village and it seems that every household has the best rakia in the area!
Bulgarian's are very proud of the rakia they make and are not shy in showing it off and forcing upon guests in rather large quantities.
Most rakia bought from supermarket, shops and drunk in restaurants and bars is commercially made and essentially made from grapes. Many good brands of grape rakia are about, along with a few commercial brands made from "
, plum.
There remains an enormous market in Bulgaria for this and you will see bars, shops and supermarkets where the shelves have a greater selection of rakia than any other type of drink.
But far more interesting is the home made rakia, where standards and quality are as diverse as you could imagine. It is very common for home-made rakia to exceed the quality of top brand names. Bulgarian's by nature would back this up on every occasion, stating that their home-made rakia is far better than anything on the commercial market.

Rakia is basically made from wine which is then distilled into spirit. There are many types of rakia with different base ingredients.
The bulk of rakia is made from the sliva fruit, (plum). You will see countless sliva trees everywhere you look in Bulgaria.
The fruit comes in many colours from yellow through to pink and on to black. The size of the fruit also varies from a small marble size to a large egg size.
Rakia is also made from grapes which usually come from the sediment left over from wine making. The fermenting process is restarted by adding more sugar and water.
Rakia is also made from apples, pears, melons and other fruits that are not suitable eaten or bottled. In essence the rakia is made from waste ingredients.
It is a great joy and occasion to go and gather the sliva on a lovely dry summer's day. The time is chosen when the fruit is about to drop from the trees from the weight of their ripeness.
Bulgarians being so practical, do not pick the fruits but place a sheet under the trees, climb up the tree then violently shake the branches to a shower of sliva which lands on the sheet. The sheet is gathered up and the slivi picked over for twigs and leaf debris.
The crop is then taken to an outbuilding where the barrel is now filled to 1/3 full of sliva and topped up with a ratio of 3 litres of water to every 1 kg of sugar.
With a 240 litre barrel they add 75 litres of water and 25 kg of sugar. The mixture is then stirred and the fruits crushed by hand at least twice a day for the next three weeks, with the fermentation starting almost immediately in the warm August weather.
Once the mixture is no longer bubbling it is technically wine but not very nice to drink, this is the stuff from which rakia is made.

In every village and town there are rakia houses specially built for the use of the community. There can be anything from one to five stills in each house, and the smell once experienced tells you exactly where you are.
These houses are managed by a "
responsible person"
, usually a man, and are supervised by the Mayor who grants permission for the rakia to be made ensuring it is solely for personal consumption.
An appointment has to be booked well in advance, as from August through to the end of November these facilities are heavily used.
There is a charge of anything from 10 - 15 leva for the use of a still and the equipment there. A receipt is given, in triplicate of course, which is also accountable to the Mayor.
Once booked, the day is eagerly anticipated, as it is an excuse for eating, drinking and talking with the exception of a year's supply of rakia. This is also a day where there would be no time for work anywhere else as the process takes up to 5-6 hours.

Distillation day has arrived, but much preparation has to be made the day before. The use of the rakia house is one thing, but everything has to be supplied and taken to the rakia house by trailer or cart.
For a start, how do you lift a 240 litres barrel of wine onto a trailer or cart? Bulgarians don't! An empty barrel is placed on the cart and a bucket is used to transfer the wine from one to the other. This is also a team effort where at least two, and in some case up to five people help. With trailer or cart being shared by more than one family this is quite common.
There is the wood for the fire which has to be provided which also has to be taken to the rakia house. This is loaded up around the barrel jamming it against the sides of the cart to stop it toppling over on the rough tracks en route to the still. Then there is the flour that has also to be taken to use as a seal for the copper stills.
The ingredients are ready and outside the rakia house for the distilling operation.
The still is primed with a little coriander seed and other, "
family secret"
additives. Once the wine has been transferred by a chain of helpers and buckets from the barrel, the flour, which is mixed with a little water to make a dough, is then moulded around the still and pipes to seal them and make them air tight.
The fire is lit and the waiting begins. It takes about an hour before the wine is hot enough to produce steam which is then forced through the sealed pipes into the cooling condenser. In the meantime, the fire heating the wine is used to cook food on a grate.
Whilst the waiting goes on, other villagers' rakia is sampled and beer and wine is brought in along with food by the wives who set up a picnic in the house.

The first drops of rakia are eventually produced, turning into a continuous stream of spirit that subsequently runs into a bucket. This is transferred into a plastic container which is measured every so often for the alcohol content.
The first samples are usually between 65-70% proof but as the process carries on it drops to 50%. The last trickles can be as low as 25-30% and are stored separately as it is not good enough to drink and added to the next batch of distillation. In effect being double distilled.
Nothing is wasted in Bulgaria. From a 240 litre barrel of slivi wine there should be about 30 litres of rakia whose overall proof should be around 45-55%. The optimum proof level is between 45-50% and mineral water is added to bring this down.
The fresh rakia is now back at home, but it is another three weeks before it becomes drinkable. Peeled and cut apples are put in a net bag and a certain type of wood placed in the rakia barrel. This is to change the colour from crystal clear to a distinctly rakia smokey coloured spirit.
There are normally two rakia making sessions during the season. The sliva rakia taking place in August to September and the grape rakia from the end of September to the end of November.
The grape rakia is an every day drink, but home made sliva is a much prized item and drunk on special occasions.
Rakia making is part of the way of life in Bulgaria. In the villages and smaller towns it is part of their seasonal routine.
It is now big news that this home-made rakia will become a thing of the past with Bulgaria's inclusion in the European Union. Officially, this will be the end of home-made rakia in Bulgaria, but being Bulgaria, the art will still go on.
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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:14 pm

Well I'm not a wine buff and I certainly do not go much for the Rakia.

But Bulgarian White wine is the best I've ever tasted. Plus our local people laugh at my analogy about Rakia
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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Fri Sep 16, 2011 9:42 am

When it comes to Bulgarian wines, I always recommend my favourite MAVRUD - it's a full-bodied red, unique to Bulgaria and ancient . The best Mavrud in my humble opinion is made in the Southern Bulgaria vineyards - for instance Asenovgrad ... years 1994-5 and 2002 were very good ... Another lighter red wine worth trying is 'No Man's Land' - I love it
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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:12 am

I agree ... Mavrud is an awesome red.

Little known fact ... Winston Churchill had a cellar full of Mavrud which he imported from Bulgaria on a regular basis!

No Man's Land is also very nice, as is the tcherga, watch out for the bizarre striped labels.
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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:54 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
I agree ... Mavrud is an awesome red.

Little known fact ... Winston Churchill had a cellar full of Mavrud which he imported from Bulgaria on a regular basis!

No Man's Land is also very nice, as is the tcherga, watch out for the bizarre striped labels.

I do think I have tried the tcherga which if I remember correctly is a white but also available in red and yes it was a very good wine sort of medium dry.
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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:56 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
I do think I have tried the tcherga which if I remember correctly is a white but also available in red and yes it was a very good wine sort of medium dry.

Indeed Blink ... white, red and rosé ... tried them all and all very good!
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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:18 am

Great post sally although I'm not a wine buff I do like a nice red and have to agree with Chris that Mavrud is a lovely wine and goes down well with just about anything. It would be nice if sally or someone could write a little about Bulgarian wines every week or month
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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:38 am

I am not much of a drinker but on occasion when we do have wine we have Kadarka it is really nice and refreshing wine.

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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:06 am

Well, I obviously have cheap tastes as I like Yambol rose and white.
Less than 3leva from metro!
ps - no comments about being Scottish please!
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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:03 pm

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Bulgarian Wine Forum in Sofia

The first edition of a Bulgarian Wine Forum, named DiVino.Taste will take place November 19-20 in the Central Military Club in Sofia. The goal of the event is the direct contact of producers and consumers. It is organized by DiVino magazine and is under the auspices of the ministry of agriculture and food. The idea belongs to publisher Emil Koralov. “There is no serious wine forum in Sofia. The Vinaria International Exhibition of Vine-Growing and Wine Producing, held in the city of Plovdiv is the official event of this kind. However, the capital city also deserves an event of that kind,” Mr. Koralov says. Over 35 Bulgarian wine producers will participate in the event and those will present more than 200 of their best brands. The program will include workshops, master classes and lections that will be useful for wine amateurs, fans and experts.

“The workshop part is divided in two. Master classes are aimed more at the consumer, at those, who want to learn more on wine and understand its secrets. On the other hand the lectures that are not accompanied by tasting target all branch experts. Mrs. Caroline Gilby from England will be our guest, and she is a Master of Wine – the most prestigious achievement in the science of wine making. There are about 300 people of that kind worldwide. Mrs. Gilby is a great expert on East European wines and more specifically on Bulgarian ones. She is the best messenger of those in Great Britain. Caroline Gilby will talk about modern Bulgarian wine, as she has selected 9 brands for her presentation. Greek Konstantinos Lazarakis, who is the only Master of Wine in the Balkans, will visit the forum too. He will pay some attention to foreign brands, accentuating on Bordeaux. Mr. Lazarakis will have another presentation, aimed at experts mainly that will talk about wine marketing. Mrs. Yana Petkova will be one of the Bulgarian lecturers and she has graduated the Austrian Wine Academy. Other interesting lecturers will attend the event too.”
DiVino.Taste aims at the presentation of the great qualities of Bulgarian wine that may compete with many world famous brands. However, many efforts have to be put into its popularization.

“I will keep on saying that currently the quality of Bulgarian wine is higher than ever. It covers the world standard and it will be great for Bulgaria if the marketing part is a good one,” Mr. Koralov says.
Is there a wine brand today that symbolizes Bulgaria, just like the rose?

“This is a serious problem for Bulgarian wine. We don’t have a brand, recognizable by the foreigners. We tried with Mavrud, but unfortunately it didn’t work out due to sort specification and other reasons. Of course, those foreigners that are acquainted with the subject know about Mavrud, but as a whole they do not relate it to Bulgaria. The truth is that we can compensate that lack with quality and also with the fact that recently French brands, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay etc., are really well accepted in this country and some nice brands appear that way.”
The will of the government and business to give power to wine tourism in Bulgaria gives hope, according to Mr. Koralov, as the ambitions in that direction are real. However, many things should change. “We have modern and beautiful wineries, but many of the rest still carry the spirit of socialism and you don’t want to go in those,” the publisher says. Infrastructure is another serious problem, according to him. The roads towards wineries are often hard. Besides that, cellar in Bulgaria are quiet scattered, while in Bordeaux, for instance, some 100-200 wineries can be visited within a radius of 30-40 km. Wine tourism should be developed together with culinary one and a wine cellar will have to offer the full service, Mr. Koralov says in conclusion.
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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:32 pm

I would truly like to try some Bulgarian Wine when we arrive in BG in late January. On my first trip to BG I tried some Rakia, this Rakia I was told had a smell of plums and I was also advised that some Rakia was subtle and smooth to the palate. Well, this Rakia wasn't!! It tasted more like battery acid and in this dire emergency situation I drank two glasses of rum, this really soothed my palate!!!

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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Fri Nov 25, 2011 8:59 am

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Sliven-A Wine Tasters Paradise

SLIVEN, BULGARIA – Hidden amidst the weeds and behind a rod-iron door that once marked the entrance of a World War II bomb shelter is the Degustation room of one of Sliven’s oldest and largest wineries. There are no signs or posted hours of operation. There is no indication whatsoever to the public that what lies behind the graffiti-covered façade near the centre of this sleepy city in central Bulgaria is a place to taste the wines made by Vini Sliven. By appointment only, large groups can see what lies behind the secret entrance. Inside is a series of cool, arched tunnels that house the winery’s oldest wines and long tables where the visitors can sit and taste them. The dusty, mouldy bottles add to the ambience. But the stash is also a buried clue that reveals a neglected treasure, and only recently have the Sliven region’s wine-producers begun to realize that they might be sitting on gold.

Wine-making in Bulgaria dates back nearly 3,000 years. In fact, it is theorized that the Thracian societies who inhabited what is now Bulgarian soil were the first to introduce commercial wine-making to the civilized world. Wine tourism in Bulgaria, however, is a new concept. The Sliven region, with its own long wine-making tradition, is just beginning to explore its potential.

But building elegant châteaus that serve good wine and offer free tours is only the first step. Wine tourism in Sliven has suffered for many reasons, and only some of them can be attributed to the lack of new facilities. There is little information or advertising to direct wine tourists to the places that currently exist. Cooperation between the wineries to promote the region has been non-existent, as has significant support and additional marketing from the Sliven municipality and local tourist agencies. But there are signs that producers are beginning to take wine tourism seriously.

The Potential Exists

Sliven’s wine history combined with its close proximity to the Blue Rocks, which attracts tourists with its panoramic views and accessible hiking trails, makes it an ideal place for wine tourism in Bulgaria. Located just 100 kilometres from many of Bulgaria’s popular Black Sea resorts, Sliven’s wineries are a short trip away for international tourists looking for more than just sun and sand.

“What is on the Black Sea is not Bulgaria,” said Georgi Zhekov, the finance and planning manager for Vinex Slavyantsi, one of the region’s largest wine producers. The company sees the potential for wine tourism and Zhekov said it has future plans to enter the market.

“Tourists can touch the countryside and taste good wine,” said Zhekov. “They can see another type of Bulgaria.”

For Bulgarian tourists, most of the wine cellars are located just off the main road from Sofia to Bourgas and easily accessible by car.

Elka Mihaylova, manager of Sliven Tours, one of the only travel agencies for local tourism, said she has seen increased interest in wine tourism among Bulgarians.

“Wine production is very important for the Bulgarian economy and it’s maturing. In the last two years, Bulgarians have started to show interest,” she said. “This is just the beginning.”

Plans for the Future

On a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon in June, the main dining room at Château Windy Hills was filled with 20 Belgian tourists tasting wine and having a light lunch. Afterword, they toured the facility, taking pictures of the modern production equipment and the oak barrels lining the cellar walls.

“In Belgium, we know Bulgaria has good wine,” said Eric Cambien. “It’s not only the French wine that’s the best.”

Opened in 2006, Château Windy Hills is one of the first models for wine tourism in the region. Unlike many of the Sliven region’s large wine factories such as Vini Sliven, Vinprom Karnobat and Domain Boyar, which produce wine in large quantities that sell at lower prices, Windy Hills is more focused on quality, producing smaller batches of wine with higher price tags.

”You don’t find many châteaus like this one in Bulgaria,” said Mariana Vassileva, the manager of Windy Hills.

But more are coming to the Sliven region.

Earlier this year, another boutique winery opened a château in Elenovo, which is approximately 45 kilometres from Sliven. Like Windy Hills, Edoardo Miroglio’s Soli Invicto has a restaurant and hotel rooms in addition to wine Degustation and tours of the facility.

Some of the region’s largest wineries are also recognizing the potential. They have acknowledged that industrial factories discourage tourism and are devising different approaches to enter this new market.

Vinprom Karnobat, one of Bulgaria’s largest wine producers, is putting the finishing touches on its Château Karnobat, Brothers Minkov. Located 50 kilometres east of Sliven on the main road to Bourgas, the winery, which will feature wines from Karnobat’s Cycle label, will officially open this September, said manager Ivan Ivanov.

”We have two big wine factories and now is the time to make the wine cellar for boutique wine, where we will show special wines, more expensive wines,” said Ivanov.

Maria Dimitrova, executive assistant at Vini Sliven, said her company has plans to move into the boutique wine business as well. It will transform an old wine cellar in the village of Padarevo, which is approximately 45 kilometres north-east of Sliven, into a microvinification winery, complete with a barrel room, a small bottling line, a tasting room and, eventually, a hotel.

Just a few kilometres down the road from Padarevo, Vinex Slavyantsi is formulating a different plan. Zhekov said the company wants to renovate a house it owns in Sungurlare, the village adjacent to the wine factory. Instead of a boutique winery, however, they will offer hotel accommodations, wine Degustation and feature mountain bike rentals and trails that wind through and around their vineyards.

”In Bulgaria, some companies with tourism concepts want to have them in their wineries. Our concept is to go out into the country, into nature and into the vineyards, because our winery is more industrial,” Zhekov said.

Both Vini Sliven and Vinex Slavyantsi said they expect their new facilities to be completed in two or three years. All of the companies said they plan to pursue funding from the European Union for these projects.

But securing the funding and building the necessary facilities to attract tourists is just the beginning. The real challenge, it appears, will be for all parties involved, from the wine companies to the Sliven municipality to the local tour operators, to work together and to focus their attention on the business of wine tourism.

Challenges Lie Ahead

Château Windy Hills sits prominently on a lone hilltop a few hundred meters from the main road between Sofia and Bourgas. Yet no signs direct passers-by and tourists to the wine cellar’s access road. Their business seems to rely on contracts with tour operators, on-line advertising and word-of-mouth. Judging by the manager’s reluctance to provide the number of visitors the château has received this year, this strategy seems to have produced limited results.

The large wineries are also struggling to attract tourists. Vini Sliven has its unused cave. Domain Boyar has a tasting room in front of its factory on the outskirts of town. But, surprisingly, it is not open on the weekends, when tourists are most likely to visit, nor was it open on a Monday, despite the sign on the door that said otherwise. A representative at Vinprom Yambol, another one of Bulgaria’s largest wineries, which is located 30 kilometres south of Sliven, had to get approval from the owner before even discussing the company’s efforts in wine tourism.

In the last few years, the Bulgarian wine industry has been focused on planting more vines and modernizing equipment and methods. But it is still hampered by the reputation that it produces only low-quality, cheap wines. By connecting domestic and international wine enthusiasts with Bulgaria’s unique terroir and native grape varietals, wine tourism could help change Bulgaria’s image and support the wineries’ top priority, which is to make and sell good wine.

“It is the way to show people the new side of the Bulgarian wine industry,” said Zhekov.

With most of the larger wine companies focusing on production, however, opportunities for attracting tourists have been neglected. The companies may feel there are not enough tourists to devote resources to wine tourism, but without more commitment, the situation is unlikely to change.

“The possibility for wine tourism is not so big at this moment,” said Dimitrova. “This is a secondary aspect of our business. But I think that everybody could improve – the municipality and our company.”

Stoyan Markov, the city’s director of Economic Development and European Programs, said he is preparing an information packet, to be ready by year’s end, which will be printed in both English and Bulgarian to promote tourism in Sliven. In addition to information about hiking in the nearby mountains and the city’s museums and art galleries, the packet will include a map of local wineries.

“Our idea is to attract different kinds of tourists to Sliven,” he said.

The map, however, is likely to have only a few dots, as it appears there are just two or three noteworthy Degustation rooms for wine tourists to visit. But it is a start. The last round of promotional material the city produced in 2007 had almost no mention of the wineries.

Markov said that compiling information for the wine map has been a challenge because the local wineries have not organized collectively to promote wine tourism in the region. Such a long-term, collective vision has yet even to be conceived. And this may prove to be the wineries’ most difficult task.

Vassileva at Windy Hills was reluctant to offer suggestions of other places where tourists can go to taste wine in the Sliven region.

“The competition is fierce,” she said, after hesitating to mention Edoardo Miroglio.

Ivanov at Château Karnobat recommended that tourists go to one of his company’s other vineyards or factories. But Vinprom Karnobat does not have anywhere else in the Sliven region for tourists to go.

Collective entrepreneurial-ism, through promotion of the region’s wine tourism, will require a change in mentality – a far more difficult task than building châteaus.

For guidance, they could look at the formula for success of most other wine tourism regions in the world. From Napa Valley to Tuscany to Alsace-Lorraine, competing wineries have organized to promote their region’s wine. Many areas, like Napa for instance, offer trains and buses that take tourists to the area’s many producers to sample their wines. By promoting their regions’ tourism together, the producers were rewarded with more than enough business to go around. The Sliven wineries’ competition is less among each other than it is with other wine-producing regions. For international tourists, they are competing with these famous wine areas around the world. Among Bulgarian tourists, Melnik is the most well-known.

Some of the wineries also expressed future plans to export their products. Cooperation could support these ambitions as international wine sales are most often linked to the good reputation of an appellation or a geographical region, rather than the individual reputations of the producers.

But there is evidence that a few Sliven producers may have begun to recognize the economic benefits of working together.

“We are helping each other, because it’s difficult in this business. It’s really difficult to promote,” said Silvia Kiuchukova, the sales manager at Soli Invicto. “For example, if we have a group in Elenovo, they taste our wines and stay for two hours, and we send them to Windy Hills to taste their wines and compare.”

Some of the other wineries with future plans also expressed an interest in working together when they are ready. The success of wine tourism in the Sliven region may depend on it. At the very least, their collective promotion will make it easier for tour operators, like Sliven Tours, and the local municipality to join their efforts. Together they could work to ensure that the region’s natural beauty and the wineries’ new facilities don’t end up like Vini Sliven’s wine cellar – hidden and forgotten.

Vini Sliven - choice of connoisseurs

Vini was founded in 1920 as a wine cooperative with the name "
Now is one of the - largest wineries in Bulgaria with an annual processing capacity of around 80 million kg. grapes, 3 bottling lines and 3,000 barrels. - Largest winery, bottling line and a vinyl seat is located in the town, which is located in the southern foothills of the Balkan Mountains and east of the Valley of the Roses. In addition Vini owns 3 satellite wineries located in the towns of Nova Zagora and Shivachevo Blatets. Vines with white wine grapes around the winery are located in Blatets and red varieties - some cellars in Sliven, Nova Zagora and Shivachevo.

Our winery produces red wines of different varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and white wines from Chardonnay, Muscat, Traminer, Ugni Blanc, Rkatsiteli Muscat and Aligote. Besides wine, Vini has its own distillery columns for the production of high quality grape brandy, vodka and gin. Annual Vini produces bottled over 12 million bottles of white and red table wines and dessert and 4 million bottles of brandy, vodka and gin.

To keep abreast of new trends in wine, our team of winemakers several years working with consultants from Australia. As a result, we created an assortment of wines young and old vintage wines aged in barrels of French, Bulgarian and American oak. Vini also produces wine in different bottles by volume for different market segments: 0.5 litres, 0.7 litres, 0.75 litres, 1.5 litres and bag-in-box.

About 15% of the bottled product is intended for the domestic market, while the remaining 85% are exported to Germany, Britain, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, Canada, Poland, Japan, USA and others.

As a result of our participation in prestigious international wine tasting competitions and exhibitions we have received many awards and accolades from world famous oenologists and sommeliers.

Vinyl equipment consists of modern facilities of stainless steel, perfectly clean, in accordance with the requirements of quality management ISO 9001:2000 and HACCP.

National retail chains:

Billa Bulgaria
Carrefour Bulgaria
Kaufland Bulgaria EOOD and Co KD
Metro Cash &
Carry Bulgaria
Trade plus Bulgaria

Other stores:

Shops "

Merkanto - Sliven
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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Fri Nov 25, 2011 9:45 am

For those that are interested, I was back in the UK on business last week and happened to be in Morrison's.

They are doing 'bag in box' 3-litres of Thracian Valley red wine by Domain Boyar. About 14 pounds for the four bottles.

So, if you fancy a taste of BG, back in the UK ...
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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:13 pm


Road of wine tourism – across Danube River

A new symbolic bridge will pave the way of wine tourism between both neighbouring Danube states of Bulgaria and Romania. Now everyone, who wants to get acquainted with the cultural and natural attractions along both banks of the Danube, will have the chance to combine his or her tourist interests with another pleasant experience – tasting of different sorts of wine. The Bulgarian Euro-Integra and the Romanian Partners 2000 associations have been developing since the end of March 2011 a joint tourist project, named Danube Wine Destinations. It is funded under the Romania – Bulgaria Cross-Border Cooperation Programme 2007 – 2013, while the co-funding is provided by the EU via its Regional Development Fund.

Head of the project on behalf of Bulgaria Dessislava Doncheva provides more information for those, who love wine and travels.

“The project provides the making of a trilingual website, along with a special wine map,” Mrs. Doncheva explains.

“This map will offer information for cross-border wine routes in Bulgarian, Romanian and English. The Bulgarian routes will be in the districts of Russe, Veliko Tarnovo, Silistra, Pleven and Dobrich. The Romanian districts will be Olt, Teleorman, Giurgiu, Calarasi and Constanta. The website will be trilingual too. It will try to orientate those tourists that are still hesitating about their next destination. This multimedia guide will include information on routes, hotels and interesting places in both states, presented in an extremely attractive manner. Of course, wine makers will be presented – smaller or bigger vineries, offering the chance for tasting of various productions,” Mrs. Doncheva adds.

Fans of travels and wine tasting will have the chance to learn

more about the different kinds of wine in the region, along with its history and the process of making wine. Sommelier workshops take place too in Bulgaria and Romania under the Danube Wine Destinations Project. Their goal is to train some 300 branch experts. Those will assist anyone, willing to get to know different wine sorts in details. According to Dessislava Doncheva the regions selected in both Romania and Bulgaria are special ones – they have common history and traditions in wine making and tourism. Each of the settlements in the two countries has its tourist attractions. The towns of Veliko Tarnovo and Pleven reveal to their visitors an important part of Bulgarian history. Russe and Silistra welcome people at their tourist ports, exposing interesting architecture. The town of Dobrich is situated only some 30 km away from the seaside. The Romanian regions of Olt, Teleorman, Giurgiu, Calarasi and Constanta are of a great interest to anyone, who wants to know more about culture and history, along with modern tourist entertainment.

“The successful implementation of this project, related to wine tourism will support the development of tourist business in the two neighboring regions,” Dessislava Doncheva goes on to say. “Thus we will respond to the expectations, related to wine offering and all tourist services, linked to the tradition of wine making there. People, employed in the sphere will gain more experience too. We expect not only an increasing of the number of tourists from both states, crossing the common border – we hope to attract new friends of Bulgaria and Romania from the EU and outside the community. The project also envisages a wine festival that will take place mid-June 2012. It will gather Bulgarian and Romanian wine makers and experts. Those will present their production within three days, they will make contacts and perhaps do some business, why not…” Mrs. Doncheva says in conclusion.

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PostSubject: Re: Wines of Bulgaria   Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:42 am

Fascinating read thank you T
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