WINE HISTORY OF BULGARIA


Bulgarian wine has a long history. In fact, Bulgaria is the oldest documented wine producing region in the world. Archeology, folklore, and literature have left lots of evidence of vine planting and wine production on the Bulgarian territory since 6,500 years ago. Historically Bulgarian wine can be traced back to ancient Thrace and the Greek god of wine ‘Dionysus’. Bulgarian territory was one of the regions where many of the wine traditions were founded during this period of the Hellenistic world. The cultured vine is said to have first been grown in Central Asia. The earliest traces of its origin within what is now Bulgaria go back 3,000 years.

Archaeological digs have resulted in the finding of numerous votive plates, decorated vessels and coins depicting scenes of wine drinking in the lives of the Thracians. Probably the best-known pieces are of Bulgarian gold and silver, which depict ritual wine drinking situations with the god Dionysus. Scientists from the National Historical Museum of Bulgaria have found wine residue on the golden pitchers from the “Panagiurishte” treasure which is assumed to have been buried twenty centuries ago. It is also worth noting that ‘Plynius the Old’ stated that the first European vine grower was a Thracian named Evmolp. According to historic monuments, our ancestors – the Thracians were considered to be one of the best and prominent wine producers. As well as the historians the scientists also believe that the Bulgarian wine cultures of today Pamid, Dimyat, Misket, Gamza, Mavrud and the broad vine of Melnik date back to these Thracian times. Perhaps not everybody will agree with this statement, but the history of wine production in Bulgaria is ancient and the Bulgarian wines are available to be rediscovered by the modern world.

Today, vine-growing and wine-producing are significant and important part of the Bulgarian economy. More than 80% of the produced wine for 2007 has been exported. The main markets are UK, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Belgium, Russia, USA, Canada, and others. For 2007, Bulgaria has exported a total of 857 000 hectoliters, which is 21% increase in comparison to 2006. For 2007-2008 campaign, Bulgaria produced a total of 1.4 million hectoliters. According to the National Vine and Wine Chamber, there are 274 registered wine producers. The wine industry is the most competitive sector of the Bulgarian food industry. The privatization process in the wine plants and production facilities finished successfully in 1999, so the wine industry is a 100% private one.

There are more than 25 varieties of white and red wines with registered trademarks of origin from designated geographic regions. The sector offers also natural sparking wines; wine distillates; grape must (syrup made by expensive grapes); high-alcohol beverages (brandy, cognac, vodka and sweetened spirits – vermouth, other aperitifs, anise-flavored brandy, mint alcohol, fruit liqueurs); vinegar; tartaric acids, grape concentrate; whisky. Apart from the well known European wines, Bulgaria produces typically Bulgarian wines which are of international quality. Here are some of them.

Red Bulgarian Wines

  • Mavrud
  • Broad Vine of Melnik
  • Pamid
  • Gamza

The European red wines cultivated in Bulgaria are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir.

White Bulgarian Wines

  • Misket
  • Vratsa Misket
  • Dimyat

The European white wines cultivated in Bulgaria are Aligote, Muskat Ottonel, Rkatzitely, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer, Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc, and Viognier.