Arda river, Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria

Wine tour in Bulgaria May 2023

good_wine Wine blog

The Thracian Valley and Sakar region of Bulgaria

Wednesday 24th to Sunday 28th May 2023

We have now run two successful tours to Bulgaria and been so impressed with the wines and culture we have devised yet another trip to explore more of the wine regions.

Wine making in Bulgaria dates back 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.

On this 5-day tour of The Thracian Valley and Sakar Region, we will discover the largest wine region in Bulgaria (The Thracian Valley) and a micro-region in the southeast corner of the country called Sakar & The Eastern Rhodopes. The days are filled with wine tastings, delicious local meals and some cultural sites are visited along the way.

We will discover local grapes such as Mavrud, Rubin and Tamianka and visit large, modern wineries as well as small family wineries. Our tour includes a stay in the cultural city of Plovdiv, which is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe and European Capital of Culture in 2019, as well as in a rural boutique hotel surrounded by peace and nature.

For those that have already visited the country 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, you will be surprised!

    Outline itinerary

    The proposed itinerary is as follows:

    Day 1 - Wednesday 24th May 2023

    Arrival to Sofia Airport. Your Tour Leader will be waiting for you (at a time to be specified) in the arrivals hall of Sofia Airport to welcome you to Bulgaria. We will then transfer to Zaara Estate (about 3 hours), check in and then take a short tour of the winery located at the hotel. Our welcome dinner will include a selection of Zaara Estate’s Wines.

    Day 2 – Thursday 25th May 2023

    While Sakar is located east of the Maritza river, the micro-region west of the Maritza river is referred to as the Eastern Rhodopes. Today, we visit a prestigious winery in the Eastern Rhodopes,  Katarzyna Estate for a tour and tasting. Lunch will be served in the town of Svilengrad overlooking the Maritsa river and the old 16th Century Mustafa Pasha bridge. Our second visit is to one of the first organic wineries in Bulgaria, Terra Tonga, where we will visit their new winery for a tour and tasting with the winemaker. We return to Zaara Estate for a group dinner in their restaurant.

    Day 3 – Friday 26th May 2023

    After breakfast, we check-out of the hotel and head to the town of Harmanli. The Sakar wine region encompasses the area where the flat Thracian Valley merges with the smooth hills of the Sakar mountain. Many of the wineries in this micro-region are small, family owned cellars. Currently wine tourism is under-developed in this region making it a wonderful place  to visit as the owners and winemakers will meet us at each winery where we can expect high quality wines and passionate people. Our first visit is to the Bratanov Family Winery, which produces high-quality wines from Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Rubin, Syrah, Mavrud, Chardonnay and Tamianka. Bratanov is credited as being the winery that brought Tamianka back onto the Bulgarian wine map. We continue the short distance to Villa Bassarea  and meet the owner and winemaker, Kamen Koev, who will show us his small winemaking facility. The Sakar Wine Shop & Tasting Room is located right next to the winery where we will enjoy lunch and a tasting of Villa Bassarea wines.
    We then continue to Plovdiv where we check in to our hotel and then take a guided walking tour of the fascinating Plovdiv and Old Plovdiv. The evening will be free with plenty of good restaurants available in Plovdiv.

    Day 4 – Saturday 27th May 2023

    Today we head out to explore the wine region surrounding Plovdiv. Our first visit is to Dragomir Winery for a tour and tasting followed by lunch in a nearby traditional restaurant. On the return to Plovdiv we will be visiting Villa Vellis winery for a tour and tasting of their range of wines. We will arrive back in Plovdiv late afternoon and in the evening enjoy a farewell dinner in a local restaurant.

    Day 5 – Sunday 28th May 2023

    After breakfast we leave our hotel for the onward transfer back to Sofia Airport.

    Changes to the itinerary: Please note that, on rare occasions, we may have to make changes to the itinerary.

    Reserve a place

    Tour cost

    £995.00 (guide price) per person sharing a twin or double-bedded room (excluding flights). There is a supplement for single occupancy of £225.00 per person.

    What's included

    • 4 nights bed and breakfast accommodation in 4 star hotels in Glavan and Plovdiv
    • Coach travel to all destinations from and to Sofia Airport
    • 3 lunches, and 3 dinners with wines in good local restaurants
    • Seven wine visits and tastings
    • The services of one of our own Wine Guides and a tour leader from Bulgaria

    Not included

    • Telephone calls and other items of personal expenditure
    • Drinks not included in the itinerary

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