Bulgarian wine has undeniable taste qualities. It is worldwide famous and it has won many international awards. Merit for the great taste of the Bulgarian wines is the specific climatic and geographic characteristics, and the ancient tradition in the area of viticulture and wine-making.
Ever since the ancient Thracians, who inhabited these lands, wine has been respected. They used it not only as a drink on the table but also for many of their religious rituals. They believed that with wine they could reach their gods. The ancient Greek god Dionysus and his Thracian analogue Zagreus were worshipped by the Thracians as gods 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.
Grape growing and wine production have a long history in Bulgaria, dating back to the times of the Thracians. Wine is, together with beer and grape ‘rakia’, among the most popular alcoholic beverages in the country.
Even Homer often mentioned the superior qualities of the Thracian wines in his works. After the establishment of the Bulgarian state in the 7th century, the traditions in winemaking were inherited and continued. Many medieval travelers, who traveled across Bulgaria, mention the properties of the various wines they have tasted on their way. In the late 19th and early 20th century the viticulture and winemaking were already approached professionally and the foundations of the modern Bulgarian wine production were laid. Nowadays high quality wines from Bulgarian producers can be found all over the world. The taste for good wine and the interest in the local varieties triggered the entry of wine tourism, wine tours and tastings in Bulgaria. Many of the wineries in the country organize events where experts and guests get acquainted with their best products.
A government decree of 13 July 1960 officially divided Bulgaria into five distinct viticultural regions.
Danubian Plain (North Bulgarian)
The Danubian Plain or North Bulgarian region encompasses the south banks of the Danube and the central and western parts of the Danubian Plain. The climate of the area is temperate continental, has a hot summer and many sunny days a year. Typical styles are Muscat Ottonel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Aligoté, Pamid and the local Gamza.
Black Sea (East Bulgarian)
The Black Sea region is where 30% of all vines are located. The region is characterized by long and mild autumns that are a favorable condition for the accumulation of sugars to make fine white wine (53% of all white wine varietals are concentrated in the region). Wine styles include Dimyat, Riesling, Muscat Ottonel, Ugni blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Traminer, and Gewürztraminer.
Rose Valley (Sub-Balkan)
The Rose Valley region is located south of the Balkan Mountains. It is divided into an eastern and western subregion, with styles such as Muscatel, Riesling, Rkatsiteli, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominating. The region mostly produces dry and off-dry white wine and less red wine. The region includes the Sungurlare Valley, famous for its wine from the Red Misket grape variety.
Thracian Lowland (South Bulgarian)
The temperate continental climate in the area and the favorable distribution of precipitation are good premises for the developed red wine growing in the lowlands of Upper Thrace. The region includes the central part of the lowland, as well as parts of the Sakar mountain. Mavrud, a famous local wine, as well as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscatel and Pamid are grown.
The Balkan Mountains serve to block the cold winds blowing from the plains of Russia, and the region to the south of the Balkans, the valley drained by the Maritsa River, has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers.
Struma River Valley (Southwest Bulgarian)
The region includes the southwestern parts of Bulgaria, the valley of the river Struma in the historical region of Macedonia. The area is small in size, but is climatically very distinct and characteristic, owing to the strong Mediterranean influence from the south. The local style Shiroka melnishka loza (taking its name from Melnik), as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are also cultivated here.