The Melnik and Struma Valley Wine Tour to Bulgaria
In 2018 we were introduced to the charms of Bulgaria visiting wineries in the Thracian Valley basing our stay in Plovdiv. We were so impressed we have devised a second trip covering another of the main wine areas.
Wine making in Bulgaria dates to Thracian times more than 5 000 years ago. In the 1970s, Bulgaria became one of the largest wine exporters in the world. Demand, however, for Bulgarian wine declined after the fall of the Soviet Union.
The small region of Melnik is renowned across Bulgaria for its unique wines, spectacular in nature and with deep historical roots. A century ago, Melnik was also known throughout Europe. Why? Melnik was a famous trade centre with wine and tobacco as the main products. Wine made from the native Melnik grape (“Broadleaved Melnik”) was traded to Western Europe, and is famously believed to be one of Winston Churchill’s favorite wines.
Today, the town is declared to be a cultural and historical reserve and an open-air, living museum. Famous for its rustic gastronomy, the southwest corner of Bulgaria offers natural sandstone formations, strong local red wines, majestic mountains, hot weather and a slow pace of life.
Fondly called the “Tuscany of Bulgaria” due to its rolling hills of vineyards and greenery, the Melnik region is known for its natural charm.
For those that have already visited the Thracian Valley this is a natural extension of what Bulgaria can offer and if you have never been before why not find out what you have been missing!
Day 1 – Wednesday 18th September 2019
Individual arrival at Sofia Airport and make your own way to our centrally located hotel. City taxis are available outside of the airport at the dedicated taxi area. The preferred city taxis are yellow and are from the taxi company “OK Taxi”. City taxis in Sofia are very cheap and reliable. Check-in to our 4-star hotel and in the evening, we gather and enjoy our first group dinner at a wine themed restaurant in inner Sofia.
Day 2 – Thursday 19th September 2019
After breakfast we check-out of the hotel and depart for a visit to Medi Valley Winery for a tour and tasting. Our next stop is the famous Rila Monastery, the largest orthodox monastery in Bulgaria and a UNESCO Heritage Site since 1983. A traditional Bulgarian lunch will be served en route. We then continue to our 4 star hotel in the town of Sandanski in southwest Bulgaria, which is famous for its mineral water springs and its beautiful town park. We will enjoy a group dinner in one of the restaurants in town.
Day 3 – Friday 21st September 2019
We start the day with a visit to the family-owned winery Rupel for a tour and tasting after which we transfer to the town of Melnik which is renowned for being the smallest town in Bulgaria with its natural rocky sand formations, and for the importance that the town and region has had on Bulgarian wine. The most famous local grape from this region takes its name from the town, “Broadleaved Melnik” which only grows in this particular region. We will enjoy a group lunch in a local restaurant followed by a short walk. Villa Melnik is the next winery to open its doors to us, and a member of the Zikatanov family will happily welcome us for a tour and tasting before returning back to our hotel in Sandanski where the evening is free.
Day 4 – Saturday 22nd September 2019
Our last day in the region starts with a visit to the Orbelia Winery, which lies in the most southwest corner of Bulgaria with Greece and Macedonia just a few kilometers away. After a tour and tasting a casual BBQ lunch will be served at the winery. Our second winery visit today is the impressive 100% organic Orbelus Winery, and after a tasting we return to our hotel in the early afternoon with time for relaxation before tonight’s farewell dinner at the luxurious Zornitza Estate – a perfect way to end our tour. Zornitza is a wonderful Relais & Chateaux property that makes its own wine!
Day 5 – Sunday 23rd September 2019
After breakfast we leave our hotel for the onward transfer back to Sofia Airport.
£785 per person sharing a twin or double-bedded room (excluding flights)
There is a supplement for single occupancy of £150.00 per person.
• Telephone calls and other items of personal expenditure
• Drinks and meals not included in the itinerary
• Travel to and from Sofia to your home destination
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