Wine & Dine
The vine and wine have been symbols of Bulgaria since ancient times. There is ample evidence that wine grapes have been grown in these lands ever since 4000 BC. This makes Bulgaria one of the oldest wine-producing areas in the world.
The ancient Thracians, who inhabited the present-day Bulgarian lands from the 4th century BC to the 3rd century AD, worshipped wine as a divine drink in their rituals. Wine is depicted in Thracian art as a precious elixir that provides strength, courage and inspiration. The Thracians drank wine from magnificent gold and silver vessels in the shape of animals and mythical creatures. Some indigenous grape varieties – such as Mavrud, Dimiat, Pamid, Shiroka Melnishka Loza and Gamza – are believed to date back to Thracian times. Following the steps of the ancient Thracian kings, one can discover unique indigenous grape varieties and the wines that are produced from them.
Nowadays there are more than 260 registered wine producers in Bulgaria. In the 30 years since the end of the Soviet era, a range of independent producers has emerged to replace the state-owned cooperatives, with many of them playing up the personality of overlooked local varieties.
Bulgaria is divided into five wine regions:
Thracian Valley – explore Plovdiv, 2019 European capital of culture, famous for the endemic red grape; Mavrud;Northern Region (Danubian Plain) – home of local varieties, such as Misket and Gamza;
Eastern Region (Black Sea coast) – known for its white wines Dimiat and Traminer;
Sub-Balkan Region (Rose Valley) – offers delicate white and red wines;
Southern Region (Thracian Valley) – famous for the indigenous red grape variety Mavrud;
Southwestern Region (Struma River Valley) – best known for its signature red, Shiroka Melnishka Loza (Broad-Leaved Melnik Vine), and its hybrid variety, Melnik 55, both named after the small picturesque town of Melnik.
Bulgarian wines have shown that they can compete with well-known French, Italian, Chilean and Californian wines. A number of local wineries have won international awards in recent years. Most wineries offer visits and tastings. Some also provide accommodation for small groups.
Our wine tours include not only visits to wineries and wine tastings, but also visits to cultural and UNESCO World Heritage sites as well as local gastronomic restaurants where one can try each region’s delicious culinary specialties. They are the perfect combination for people eager to discover the history and culture of Bulgaria through its wine, food, and people.