"The success story of the Eastern Block" as called by R. Joseph, the editor of Wine magazine, Bulgaria is gaining reputation as a producer of high quality affordable wines. Until 1990 the wine industry in Bulgaria was state-owned and was operated by Vinprom and exported by its subsidiary Vinimpex. In the 80's import of American and Australian know-how laid the ground for production of high quality wines in Bulgaria. Coupled with centuries old traditions and enormous natural potential this tendency bore fruit and Bulgarian wines are gaining popularity among consumers in Western Europe, United States, Canada, and even as far as China and Japan.

After the fall of the totalitarian states in 1990 privatization of state owned companies and land restitution went under way in Bulgaria. At first at slow pace it is now gaining speed especially after UDF ( Union of Democratic Forces) came into power in October, 1996. Results followed suit. Land is being returned to its original owners and many wineries are privatized or ready for privatization and sale. If the process continues uninterrupted and there is no other alternative, my prediction is that Bulgarian wines will get more and more competitive on the basis of high quality and moderate prices.

The potential for wine making in Bulgaria is enormous. The climate in the northern part of the country is continental with cool winters and hot summers. It is milder to the south due to the influence of the Black sea and the Mediterranean. Local hilly terrenes create ideal micro-climates and combined with good quality soils they produce extremely suitable conditions for growing best quality grapes. Bulgaria has several well developed viticulture and enology institutes, most notably in Plovdiv the second largest city in the country. My conviction is that it is only a matter of time to see even greater variety of Bulgarian wines on western store windows.

The best wines are produced from the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties, high quality, rich, and Bordeaux-like. Local grapes include:

  • Gamza - the most widespread sort produces earthy, light bodied red wine good for simple fare. In Romania and Hugary it is known as Kadarka.
  • Mavrud - is a full bodied, spicy red that can age to more than 8 years
  • Melnik - grown in the southernmost part of the country makes hefty red wines that age very well
  • Pamid - rustic and hardly unforgettable but still good enough "commercial" for daily drinking.

Whites are produced from renowned varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling as well as from the local: Misket, Ottonel, and Dimiat. Whites are not nearly as good as reds but they are rapidly improving and recently some very nice surprises from Rouse winery have appeared.

As still unpopular as it is, Bulgaria is the second largest exporter of bottled wine in the world, second only to France and it has four times the area, planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, of California. It appears to be the fastest growing new-comer on the market. Beware!



At the following sites additional information on the wine industry in Bulgaria may be found:

  Bulgarian Master Vintners
Provides in dept information on Bulgarian wine industry
  Bulgarian Wine Guild
A brief yet informative section of their, entirely dedicated to Bulgarian wine site.
  Bulgarian Wine Industry by OKAM Ltd.
A nice general overview.
  Slow Food Guide to the Wines of the World
Insightful description

Please note that these links are external to the current site. If you wish to come back you will have to use the "back" feature of your browser or bookmark the current page to return for later reference.




Last modified: January 18, 1998
Rossen Paounov