Credit: Bulgaria Wine Tours
Already been to France, Spain or Italy on a wine-themed holiday? Want to experience something new while enjoying excellent wine? Why not consider Bulgaria then? This article provides at least seven reasons for you to pick Bulgaria as your next wine destination.
Mainly recognized for its sandy beaches and ski resorts, a little known fact about Bulgaria is that it is one of the oldest wine producing countries in the world. Nevertheless, wine tourism is a relatively new industry in Bulgaria, so you will not see buses driving in and out of wineries, quick tastings standing up at the bar or a hoard of tourists trying to get a table at the local restaurant. What you will experience is the warm hospitality of Bulgaria’s various wineries – century-old wineries, small to medium-sized wineries and of course, family-run wineries. You will visit the unexplored rural regions of the country with picturesque villages and stunning nature, and get to immerse yourself into millennia-old history and culture. Wine tastings in Bulgaria can last as long as you want them to – usually you get to meet the winemaker and/or the owner of the winery, tour the vineyards and the facilities, and enjoy generous wine pourings accompanied with local appetizers and pleasant conversations. The overall atmosphere is one of aylak – the Bulgarian state of enjoying time and living in the moment.
In recent years, Bulgarian wines have continued to impress judges in International Wine Competitions making them the most awarded wines in Central and Eastern Europe. The prestigious Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2016 was recently held in Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria. Wines from Bulgaria set a record with 109 medals out of 256 samples reaching a benchmark of a 42,6% success rate. Furthermore, an impressive 45% of the awards for Bulgaria were gold medals – a precedent in the over 20 year history of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. Bulgarian wines continue to prove themselves as high-quality wines in prestigious wine competitions such as the Decanter World Wide Awards and the Mundus Vini: The Grand International Wine Award.
Did you know that Bulgaria is among the oldest wine producing areas in the world? Evidence of winemaking dates back to over 5 000 years ago when the Thracians inhabited the lands of today’s Bulgaria. The Thracians were numerous tribes who worshipped wine as a divine drink. In ‘The Illiad’ by Homer, there are several mentions of Thracian wine and how it was the best wine in the ancient world. The winemaking traditions on Bulgarian lands flourished during the Roman era when in the 2nd century AD Emperor Antonius Pius designated the vineyards of Lower Mizia (nowadays northwestern Bulgaria) as protected. Therefore, it is likely that the first official wine appellation was established in today’s Bulgaria.
Winemaking in Bulgaria has had its ups and downs through the years. Wine production peaked in the 1970s when Bulgaria was among the largest wine exporters in the world and declined after the fall of communism in the 1990s. Since Bulgaria’s accession to the EU in 2007, a number of small and medium-sized boutique wineries producing high-quality wines have been popping up on the Bulgarian wine map. Bulgaria has had a strong wine tradition for thousands of years. A tradition that still exists today.