Bulgaria is a wonderfully off the beaten track destination that blends breathtaking landscapes, rich history, unique folklore, and delicious food and wine. The beauty of its wine regions is still a bit of a secret. Wine making in Bulgaria is said to date back to ancient Thrace. The lands of modern Bulgaria were once inhabited by Thracian tribes, who believed that wine was sacred and worshipped Dionysus - the God of Wine. Bulgaria’s history of grape cultivation and wine making has its roots in Thracian culture, and the Thracians were the first to introduce a now millennia-old tradition of wine making in Bulgaria.
The Thracian Valley is one of Bulgaria’s most attractive wine regions, and was selected as one of the 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations of 2017 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. A visit to the Thracian Valley wine region is a good opportunity to discover indigenous grape varieties, experience warm hospitality and get a taste of the local cuisine.
There are some true hidden winery gems located in the rolling hills of the Thracian Valley that all offer warm hospitality, a mountainous backdrop and exceptional wine.
For wine lovers, nothing beats a stay at a winery. An escape to a winery offers an idyllic setting to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for wine. There’s just something about being in the place of production and learning the story behind the wine that makes the wine taste better.
Here are 5 beautiful wine estates featuring accommodation that ranges from luxury hotels to boutique-style guesthouses located close to vineyards.
Midalidare Hotel & SPA
The Midalidare Hotel & SPA is situated in between the two wine cellars of the Midalidare Estate. The boutique hotel offers the highest standards of service, quality and comfort. You will also find superb recreational value in the cutting-edge spa facilities and modern onsite restaurant. A great vacation for those who like to combine wine tastings with relaxation and great food. The magnificent rural surroundings beg to be explored by foot or rental bicycles available at the hotel.
Tucked away in a scenic part of Bulgaria, the modern guesthouse of Villa Yustina Winery is a rare find. The charming guesthouse is located in the village of Ustina, not far from the winery and the gorgeous vineyard park. Enjoy the quiet village life and drink wines from the wine cellar in the tasting room or in the comfort of the guesthouse. Take a leisurely stroll in the village and surrounding nature. Villa Yustina even has a goat farm. The guesthouse has three bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a lovely garden, perfect for BBQ evenings.
Looking for unbeatable value? This modern complex combines a boutique hotel and spa with a stellar wine cellar and restaurant. The idyllic Starosel complex attracts locals as well as foreigners. Food lovers will appreciate the restaurant's modern take on traditional local dishes. Fans of outdoor sports have the option of renting a bicycle to explore the rural area on wheels, or horse riding at the onsite riding centre. Those who seek sun and relaxation will find it in the extensive spa and swimming pool areas (indoor and outdoor). For history lovers, several Thracian tombs can be found close by the village, the most famous is the Starosel Thracian Cult Complex just a few kilometres away.
Exquisite wine and gastronomy is Chateau Copsa's strength. This boutique hotel lies just outside the Thracian Valley in a small region famous for its roses and Thracian tombs. The wines are prime examples of wine from the Valley of Roses. The area surrounding the winery offers plenty of activities. Take advantage of the proximity to Bulgaria’s Valley of Roses and visit the rose plantations. Or go hiking in the majestic Balkan mountain range nearby. Horse riding and even ATV riding can be arranged by the hotel. With only four boutique rooms and one suite, the hotel is small and intimate. The restaurant is nothing less than superb with a menu that appeals to wine and food lovers.
The luxurious Edoardo Miroglio winery sits on top of a hill surrounded by pristine nature. Within the winery, the boutique “Soli Invicto” hotel offers ten elegant individual rooms, a restaurant, a lobby bar, tasting room and an outdoor swimming pool. The quiet intimacy of the remote location makes for a truly unforgettable and relaxing experience, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Edoardo Miroglio Winery, Village of Elenovo, 8943Nova Zagora, emiroglio-wine.com
A great wine destination starts with superb wines but beyond the cellar tastings, a superior wine destination also needs spectacular scenery, food and attractions. Bulgaria is an under-the-radar wine destination that offers all those qualities and more. Visit a rural winery for a long weekend, a short stay or even just for the day and discover Bulgaria in the best way possible - through wine and food.
Feature by Zina Sorensen Co-founder and managing director of Bulgaria Wine Tours - a special interest tour operator focusing on incoming wine and food tourism with added cultural, rural and spa tourism elements.