To the cradle of winemaking: the Bulgarian Wine Trail

Today, we’re going on a unique wine trail to a country recognized as one of the world’s oldest—we’re talking 4000 B.C.—and biggest wine makers: Bulgaria.

Founded in the seventh century and one of the earliest states on the European continent, this Balkan nation is a melting pot of cultural influences with a rich heritage.

Bulgaria has a long history of grape growing and wine production.

The country has almost forty types of indigenous grape varieties, even if not all of them are used in winemaking. The most popular alcoholic beverages in this country are wine, beer, and grape rakia.

With its statuesque mountains, ski slopes, beautiful beaches, pretty villages, amazing food, breath-taking roses, warm people, and world-class wines, what’s not to like about Bulgaria? Also, saving the best for last, it is affordable.

So grab your VinGardeValise® and your toothbrush, and get ready to explore this European country steeped in wine history. We are taking you to five of the most beautiful Bulgarian wineries—in the Thracian Valley, also known as the cradle of winemaking—for a truly sensual journey. Each one is the perfect blend of traditional winemaking, supported by the latest technology.

By the way, do watch out for this little quirk with Bulgarians when you visit: they shake their heads to say yes and nod for no.

Let’s go!

Minkov Brothers Wine Cellar

Established almost a century ago, the Minkov Brothers Wine Cellar is located on a hill approximately fifteen kilometers west of Karnobat, close to the Burgas-Sofia Road in the midst of picturesque vineyards. This is where the oldest vineyards in the Karnobat area were located, where, for centuries, the juiciest and most aromatic grapes were grown. The winery, which poses an elegant retro-style exterior, is truly luxurious inside.

A charming tour of the winery allows you to explore the whole winemaking cycle from harvesting to ageing in oak barrels placed in the underground tunnels. Few things can beat the combination of excellent wine, fabulous scenery, a cozy fire, and the perfect food and wine pairing in an elegant setting. Enjoy the award-winning white and red Minkov Brothers and Cycle wines with traditional Bulgarian dishes and world cuisine in the warmth of the fireplace near the barrels; or if you prefer stunning views of the landscape, there is the tower.

Don’t miss the special museum compound at the wine cellar where you can see displays of old-time wine storage vessels and red-figure pottery dating back to the fourth century B.C. and depicting Dionysus, along with some of the awards of the Minkov Brothers. There are two museum areas. While one is about the Minkov Brothers’ winemaking family and their possessions, the other describes the history of winemaking in the region.

This century-old winery made Bulgaria famous by winning the country’s first gold medal in Brussels in 1874, and continues to win prestigious international and national awards details of which can be found here.

To quote the Minkov Brothers from their website,

“Looking for the balance between tradition and modern winemaking technologies, we have combined 135-year experience, beneficial soil, favourable climate and a passion for winemaking, and are now carrying on with what the Minkov brothers have bequeathed to us. The terroir we have chosen gives our wines an excellent aroma and taste profile. Inspired by the New World style, we have restored the Minkov Brothers Wine Cellar – Tradition since 1875, with the mission to become a synonym for high quality and uniqueness.”

Make sure your VGV® is ready to take home this winery’s treasured White Cuveé, Chardonnay, Cuveé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier.

· Wine tasting
· Wine tour
· Literature on the world of wine
· Museums
· On-site wine shop and stylish accessories
· Online wine shop

Minkov Brothers Wine Cellar
8473 Venec,
Phone: +359 882 15 15 00

Languages: Bulgarian and English

Domaine Boyar

Domaine Boyar has the distinction of being the first private wine company after the fall of the communist regime in Bulgaria. Founded in 1991, the winery operates from Sofia and London. Today, it is among the biggest producers and exporters of Bulgarian wine. The winery has two cellars, the "Sinite Skali", one of the largest and most modern wineries in Eastern and Central Europe, and the boutique winery of "Korten." The Sinite Skali is located near the Blue Rocks in the foothills of Stara Planina mountain in the Thracian Plains. This area is famous for its high quality red wines. As a leading producer and exporter of Bulgarian wines, the winery attributes its success to modern technology and innovations.

The Sliven branch of Domaine Boyar, which is the Sinite Skali organizes wine tours and tastings. Qualified experts introduce the technical side of wine production, from the raw material stage, to vinification, aging, maturation in oak barrels and wine stabilization.

According to the website,
“In the last five years, Domaine Boyar has significantly expanded its portfolio, becoming one of the biggest importers of prestigious world wine brands. The cellar is a partner of the world's largest wine companies such as Constellation Brands, Accolade Wines, Barton & Guestier, etc. Today, Domaine Boyar continues to be a leader in the export of quality Bulgarian wines. The company's key markets are the UK, Benelux, USA, Canada, Asia and the Scandinavian countries.”

When you visit, enjoy the well-equipped and air-conditioned "House of Wine” at the factory where the tastings take place. You can also buy an assortment of wines produced in the winery. The Domaine Boyar range includes dry, red, white, rose, sparkling, natural, grape brandy and liqueurs. Don’t forget to take home this winery’s spectacular Chardonnay!

This year, with its rare diversity of varieties and styles, Domaine Boyar’s wines have won twenty-one medals including thirteen gold and eight silver as the leading producers of high quality white and rosé wines. Here is more information about their award-winning wines.

· Online wine shop
· Winery tour and shop
· Wine tasting

Domaine Boyar
Sofia, Boyana
2B Marinkovica str., floor. 1
Sofia 1618
Phone: +359 2 96 97 980

Languages: Bulgarian, English

Edoardo Miroglio Wine Cellar

Edoardo Miroglio Wine Cellar was established in 2002 and is located in the Thracian valley in the village of Elenovo, 22 km. from Nova Zagora. The winery is surrounded by vineyards spread across rolling hills, a lake, and green lawns, and produces close to one million liters of wine each year. Some of the grape varieties cultivated here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel, Traminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Mavrud, Rubin and Melnik 55. Their specialties are white, rosé and red wines, as well as sparkling wine, traditional white and rosé, rakia and liqueur.

The major brands produced by the winery are Elenovo (Reserves), Edoardo Miroglio (premium brand), Sant'Ilia, Soli and Saint Ilia Estate (commercial brands). While Elenovo and Edoardo Miroglio are mostly distributed in selected hotels, restaurants and specialized wine stores, Soli, Sant’Ilia and Saint Ilia Estate are commercial brands for the domestic and export markets. In 2013, the winery received certification for organic vineyards and started producing three new organic wines. When you visit, enjoy their signature wines and explore Elenovo, taking in the unique experience of an Italian winery making Bulgarian wines.

To quote Edoardo Miroglio,

“Grape-growing and wine-making have been traditional for the region ever since Thracian times. Many ancient authors have praised the Thracian wine, and the recipe has been passed from father to son for generations... This is what I was inspired by!”

Edoardo Miroglio’s wines have won numerous gold and silver medals and their complete list of awards can be viewed here.

· Wine cellar
· Boutique hotel
· In-house restaurant
· Wine tasting
· Online shop
· Local sightseeing, fishing, zoo

Edoardo Miroglio Wine Cellar
Nova Zagora
Elenovo, 8943
Phone: +359 44 500 411

Languages: Bulgarian, Italian and English

Midalidare Estate

A business venture of the Kazakhstani businessman Eugene Yusupov, Midalidare Estate Winery is located 20 kilometers northwest of Chirpan village, Mogilovo, a region with millennial wine traditions. The vineyards nestle between the hills of Central Middle Forest, covering 160 hectares. The first cellar was built in 2009 and the second in 2011.

The winery produces limited edition premium and super premium wines, including six white and eight red wines exclusively from grapes from its own vineyards. The following white varieties are grown: Pinot Gris, Semillon, Riesling, Traminer, Chardonnay, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. The red varieties are Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Mourvedre, Pinot Noir.

Midalidare Estate welcomes visitors at its mansion, which is half an hour from Sofia, Plovdiv and an hour and a half from Stara Zagora, to enjoy the beauty of its surroundings while tasting their excellent wines. You can also book private wine samplings, corporate events, special dinners, and celebrations.

The winery’s speciality is their “On the Wine Road” tour that includes a trip around the fermentation area and the barrel cellar, a tour of all the three halls of the wine museum and tasting of eight different wines from a wine dispenser.

The website states the winery’s philosophy as,

“Limited edition wines, experimenting with technological practices, striving for maximum expression of the terroir and microclimate of Midalidare. Freedom of ideas, full dedication to the cause of producing premium wines and convert the mansion into a top destination for wine tourism”

Since 2009, Midalidare has consistently amassed gold and silver medals both on a national and international level. You can see details of each year’s awards listed here.

· Online shop
· Wine tourism
· Rock festival
· Wine museum
· Guest house on the estate
· Dam of Mogilovo village for recreational fishing and nature walks

Midalidare Estate
Winery: 6239 Mogilovo village, Chirpan municipality
Phone: +359 889 217 413,
Winery tours and tasting:
Midalidare Estate
Sofia, street A.P. Chehov № 43А
Phone: +359 882 258 446

Languages: Bulgarian and English

Four Friends Winery

Located east of Stara Zagora, near the village of Gorno Botevo, is Four Friends Winery, occupying 40 hectares in the Thracian Valley. Established in 2006, the winery’s first vineyards were planted with premium grape varieties. The “Four Friends” brand name was born when four friends passionate about creating high quality Bulgarian wine got together. Since 2012, they have been making exceptional wines recognized all over the world. Their wine varieties include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.

The specialty of Four Friends Winery is the use of classical technology and manual labor, with the grapes being harvested by hand and manually sorted. Over 300,000 bottles of wine are produced each year.

As expressed on their website,
“Our philosophy is to strive for perfection with our first-class wines by giving much attention and care to every detail: out in the vineyard, down in the cellar, in our attitude to the natural environment. We make unique wines for those special moments you spend with people that are special to you!”

Make sure to enjoy their wine tasting packages of Four Friends wines in Hotel Vega Sofia when you visit. Their Four Friends Tasting Packs include four to six wines from each series with commentaries. All packages include cheese and meat cuts, bread and mineral water.
Four Friends Winery’s award winning wines are listed here.

· Bag in box single vineyard wines
· Online shop, also sells wine accessories
· Range of collectible aged wines
· Wine tasting of Four Friends wines in Hotel Vega Sofia for groups of 5
· Private service for the wine enthusiasts in Bulgaria offering personalized wine brand and wine box

Four Friends Winery
6053, village of Gorno Botevo,
Municipality of Stara Zagora,
Phone: +359 89 554 10 36

Languages: Bulgarian, Russian and English

The Bulgarian wine trail is waiting for you to discover her and all her charms. The Award winning wines along the trail are sure to make you regret not having two VinGardeValise wine suitcases on your trip!

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