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Until 1990 Bulgaria was the second largest exporter of bottled wine in the world. The export constituted over 80% of the production. What does account for that remarkable achievement is consistently high quality and surprisingly low prices.

The best latitude for growing high quality grapes is between 35° and 50° N and 30° and 50° S. Situated between approximately 41° and 44° N on the Balkan peninsula, Bulgaria lies at the heart of the northern wine growing belt.

The ancient inhabitants of the lands presently within the borders of Bulgaria had recognized that the two main factors predetermining the quality of the wine, i.e. soil and climate, were eminently present here.

Earlier than 1000 BC the Thracians to have been living mainly within the territory of present-day Bulgaria introduced vines from Asia Minor. The first known written evidence of the quality of the wine produced in Thrace is found in the 11th song of “The Iliad” wherein Homer mentions that while the Greeks were laying siege on Ilion ( Troy ), the Atride’s tents were being stocked with wines delivered by ships to have sailing off from the Thracian town of Niso. The Greek writer Xenophontus also indicated the Thracian wines as renowned in the Mediterranean world. He impressively well depicted Thracian wine celebrations and a wine feast given by the Thracian king Sevt ( 424-410 B. C. )

The incontrovertible significance of Thrace as a vine-growing and wine-producing province of the Roman Empire is testified by The Decree for Preservation of Vineyards in Lower Misia ( presently Central and Northern Bulgaria ) issued by Anthonius Pius ( 138-161 A. D. )

In the 3-7th cc A. D. the Slavs and the Proto-Bulgarians who settled within presently Northern Bulgaria inherited and enriched Thracian wine producing traditions. Wine production and consumption had to have assumed threatening expansion in the 9th century A. D. if Khan Kroum of Bulgaria ( 802-814 A. D. ) would have to issue a decree for uprooting of vineyards and impose a severe punishment for inebriation... Obviously, wine-production had survived, if in 13th century A. D. in his chronicles Vilhardwen mentioned the Friedrich Barbarosa's Crusaders, traversing Bulgaria along the bed of the river of Maritsa, were quite often drunken, wine being profusely available.

From the fall of Bulgaria under the Turkish rule in 1396 A. D. until its liberation in 1879, wine production was severely restricted as the Islam prohibits alcohol consumption. According to official data vine yards within the Bulgarian territories within the Turkish Empire were less than 100 000 acres in 1858. Within less than 20 year after the Bulgarian liberation wine production was quickly revived and in 1897 vineyards exceeded some 210 000 acres. Up until 1918 the phylloxera reduced vine-yard to about 150 000 acres. Presently, Bulgarian vine-yards reach some 380 000 acres.

Two of the most renowned wine producing regions in Bulgaria are the East Southern and the Central Northern.

The East Southern region of 11 000 acres of vineyards spans 40 miles inland along the Black sea coast, the main city being Burgas. The Central Northern region comprises 8 000 acres of vineyards lying between the towns of Lyaskovets and Suhindol on the foothills of the Balkan mountains.



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Wine Growing Regions of Bulgaria

 

Wine Growing Regions of Bulgaria

Region

Average t°
[°C]

Frost-Free t° [°C/year]

t° above 10°C
[Days/year]

Sunshine
[h/year]

Precipitation
[l/m2/year]

East Southern ( Port of Burgas, Pomorie )

12.1

~ 4200

~ 268

1780

560

Central Northern
( Lyaskovets, Suhindol )

11.3

~ 4000

~ 259

1710

590


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Region

Elevation
[m]

Predominant Soil Types

pH

East Southern
( Port of Burgas, Pomorie )

10-40

marl, leached molisols, delluvial, rich loam, sandy loam, podzolizated cinnamonic, humus pedocal.

5 - 6.5

Central Northern
( Lyaskovets, Suhindol )

160-320

lime-rich pedocal, cinnamonic woodland, humus woodland, podzolizated molisols, leached molisols, alluvial, delluvial grassland.

5 - 7

The immediate proximity to the Black sea and the protective role of the eastern slopes of the Balkan mountain range against cold northern winds have the most important influence upon the East Southern region climate resembling Mediterranean. Most of the over 30-year old vineyards nestle on the slopes of hills basked in coastal sunshine to produce wines with distinct fruit character.

The vineyards in the Central Northern region are located on the slopes and plateaus of the northern foothills of the Balkan mountains. The climate is moderately continental.