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Any journey to Melnik, Bulgaria, would not be complete without experiencing a Melnik winery. This quaint town boasts a winemaking tradition that traces back nearly 8,000 years.
Wines from Melnik are held in high esteem. Legend holds that Sir Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister, was a huge fan of Melnik wines and ordered two barrels (over 500 liters) each year for his personal consumption.
To experience the treasures from this corner of Bulgaria, here are 7 outstanding Melnik wineries you want to visit for amazing Bulgarian wines.
Discover Broadleaf Melnik and the different indigenous grapes from the region.
Map of Melnik Bulgarian Wine Routes
As one of the five wine regions in Bulgaria, Melnik is known for the Shiroka Melnishka, often called Broadleaved Melnik, a red wine grape variety that grows only in this specific area.
To guide your Melnik winery visits, you can pick up a Melnik Wine Map at tourist information centers. The Melnik Wine Map is free and features wine cellars, wine bars, and cultural sites to visit.
You’ll also find it at wine shops and wine bars in Sofia, Plovdiv, Blagoevgrad, Sandanski, Petrich, and Bansko.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: From Sofia, take a Melnik Wine Tour to visit the region and taste the local wines without worrying about transportation. You’ll visit the popular sights in this famous architectural town and have lunch with Bulgarian wines at a nearby village. Before heading back to Sofia, you’ll tour Villa Melnik winery and enjoy a tasting of several local wines.
7 Best Melnik Wineries To Visit
1. Villa Melnik Winery: Boutique Winery Steeped in Tradition
Villa Melnik is a boutique winery located seven kilometers south of the town of Melnik. Their driving philosophy is “quality over quantity.”
With 50 hectares (123 acres) of vines, Villa Melnik makes 10 red wines and 6 white wines. The owners have worked hard to preserve the indigenous and local grapes from the region like the Broadleaf Melnik and Sandanski Misket.
Some of the familiar grape varieties you’ll find are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Although not an organic winery, we were pleased to learn that the harvest is done by hand and no pesticides are used to treat the vineyards.
Melnik Winery Tour
We enjoyed visiting the property to admire the views of the vineyard and see the modern wine-making process.
What surprised us most during our tour were the sandy underground tunnels built to store the wine barrels and bottles.
According to Mariya, our tour guide, they provide the perfect temperatures and humidity for aging wine year-round.
The wines age in French and Canadian barrels, as Bulgarian barrels are used specifically for Bulgarian wines.
Wine Tasting at Villa Melnik
Wine-tasting options are offered at the end of the tour in their large tasting room. The most basic package is a tour of the winery and a welcome drink.
For an immersive experience, you can enjoy a tour of the vineyard and winery with six wine tastings.
During our tasting, the Orange Wine was one of the most fascinating wines we tasted. This white wine, rooted in history, is like an intense Sauvignon Blanc.
Other Villa Melnik wines offered were made with traditional grapes like Melnik 55, Ruen, and Melnik 1300 Jubilee. They all had wonderful expressions stemming from Shiroka Melnishka grapes.
In addition to Villa Melnik’s commitment to producing high-quality wines, they are also focused on raising the awareness and prestige of the local wines.
Address: Villa Melnik Winery, Harsovo Village, Bulgaria
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9:00 am – 5:30 pm; Sat-Sun, 10:00 am – 6:30 pm
Pricing: Basic winery tour and welcome drink is 5 BGN (approx. $2.75). Immersive tour of vineyard and winery, six wine tastings, with local treats priced at 30 BGN (approx. $16.50).
2. Zornitza Family Estate and Winery: A Relais & Châteaux Experience
Zornitza Family Estate is a boutique winery and culinary hotel located 6 km southwest of Melnik.
It is also the first Relais & Chateaux boutique hotel in Bulgaria, boasting a spa center and an eco-farm, and a boutique winery.
While Zornitza Family Estates has an impressive collection of wines from around the world, they are also dedicated to producing their own wines.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: The beauty, nature, and luxury will seduce you to spend a couple of nights at Zornitza Family Estate. We personally enjoy the luxurious villas and hotel amenities, as well as the gourmet restaurant featuring terroir cuisine with farm fresh produce. The mineral pools and exquisite spa facilities will leave you feeling relaxed and reinvigorated. See our detailed review Zornitza Family Estate Review: Your Luxury Relais & Chateaux in Bulgaria.
Zornitza Winery Tour
The vineyards at Zornitza are relatively young with their first wines produced in 2016. Their production is limited with a sharp focus on the making of quality wines.
Syrah is the dominant grape, accompanied by 17 other local and classic red wine grape varieties sourced from local producers.
In the Zornitza Family Estate cellar, they store more than 300 varieties of wines from around the world in addition to their own production.
They house a small lab, a fermentation room with steel tanks, and a cellar with several hundred bottles. The red wines from the property are aging in French oak barrels or in bottles.
Wine Tasting at Zornitza Family Estate and Winery
The wine-tasting experience is offered in the elegant aEstivum Restaurant next door to the wine cellar.
Offered daily between 12:00 pm and 5:30 pm, you can choose a wine tasting of t tasting of three or five wines each accompanied by a platter of homemade cheeses and cured meats.
During our visit, we sampled five Bulgarian red wines, including Zornitza’s flagship Fifty/Fifty wine.
The amazing range of flavors is the result of the creativity of the owner, who is highly involved in the wine-making process.
Address: 2821 Zornitza Village, Melnik Area, Bulgaria
Hours: The winery is open every day.
Pricing: A tasting of 3 wines is 15 € (approx. $16.55) and 5 wines for 26 € (approx. 28.69).
3. Sintica Winery: Where Melnik 55 Was Invented
The history of Sintica Winery runs deep, beyond the modern building you’ll see when you arrive.
The building replaces the defunct Experimental Agricultural Center where unique grape hybrids were once created.
Established in the mid-20th century, this was where early Melnik, or Melnik 55, was created as a hybrid of Broadleaf Melnik and Valdiguie, a French grape varietal.
Other crossings such as Melnishki Rubin, Melnik Jubilee 1300, Melnik 82, and Sandanski Misket were all created here.
After 1989, the Experimental Wine Cellar stopped functioning.
With ambitious plans, Sintica Winery opened in 2007 as a completely new and modern complex with a capacity for about 500,000 liters of wine.
The only thing preserved from the previous winery is a unique underground cellar for storing and aging wines at a constant natural temperature of 14 ºC (57.2 °F).
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: To avoid drinking and driving, consider staying at Villa Sintica for a relaxed stay. This is also a central location to explore the Melnik area and other nearby wineries.
Sintica Winery Tour
When you arrive at Sintica Winery, follow the signs for Villa Sintica, a luxury Tuscany-inspired wine resort. This resort, which opened in October 2018, works in close partnership with Sintica Winery.
Grapes for the white wines come from central Bulgaria as well as from the grape-growing areas near the Black Sea. Only the grapes for the red wines come from the surrounding Bulgarian villages.
Modern equipment is used at each step of wine production. Harvesting is done by hand and depending on the varieties, wines age either in steel or oak barrels.
As we were winding down our tour, we were amused to see a photo from the winery owner of François Hollande, ex-French President drinking a glass of Sintica Melnik 55.
Wine Tasting at Sintica Winery
Several tasting packages are available. You can choose from three, five, or seven wines all of which include include a winery tour.
Accompanying the wines is a selection of white and black bread, white-brined cheese, yellow cheese, crackers, and mineral water.
Our favorite bottle was the Sintica Explosion Melnik 55, which we savored particularly with
The notes of black cherry and plum and a velvety aftertaste were exceptional, and this quickly became one of our favorite Melnik 55 wines.
Address: Sintica Winery, Sandanski Road E79, main city entrance
Hours: Open daily, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Pricing: Tasting packages include a winery tour and a selection of breads and cheeses. Pricing for 3 wines is 15 BGN (approx $8.30 USD), for 5 wines is 30 BGN (approx $16.50 USD), and for 7 wines is 40 BGN (approx $22.10 USD).
4. Orbelus Winery: The First Bulgarian Organic Winery
Located in the village of Kromidovo, not far from Melnik town, the winery is located close to the Greek border in the valley of the River Struma.
The first vineyards were planted in 2006, with the idea of producing organic wines from the start.
In 2009, the first grapes were harvested and the building, Orbelus Cellar, opened its doors in 2014.
Orbelus Winery Tour
On our tour of the small and impressive winery, we learned about their focus on producing the best possible wines, with Melnik 55 at the heart of all their wines.
Orbelus Winery produces about 20 different varieties of mostly red wines. Some of the red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mareselan, Mourvedre Rubin, Shiroka Melnishka Loza (Broadleaf Melnik), and more.
Their white grape varieties include Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Sandanski Misket, and Assyrtiko (a Greek variety).
Orbelus uses only organic grapes and traditional fungicides. Their wines are heavily regulated, and their focus is on great quality wines and not mass production.
Wine Tasting at Orbelus Winery
Orbelus Winery offers several types of tasting tours, from simple tours of the winery all the way to participation in the harvesting of grapes. Be sure to make advanced reservations before your visit.
We tasted four wines while at Orbelus Winery. Kicking off the tasting was a white Sandanski Misket, made from Bulgarian indigenous grapes. Pale yellow in color, we liked the aromatic and fragrant notes in the wine.
This was followed by a strong Rosé wine, a combination of Broadleaf Melnik and Syrah grapes.
We love red wines and the last two we tasted did not disappoint. Orbelus Mitra, a blend of Grenache and Melnik grapes, was easy to drink , but the Orbelus Prima 2015 was our favorite.
This wine, a Gold Winner at a prestigious North American wine festival, was deep and complex, with a smooth finish.
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Melnik 55, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, this was the perfect end to the tasting.
Address: Orbelus Winery, Kromidovo Village, Bulgaria
Hours: Open daily; 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.
Pricing: Prices start at 14 BGN ($7.75) for a tour of the winery and 3 wine tastings. You can also choose a tasting of 4 or 5 wines with bread (18 BGN or 22 BGN) or the “Orbelus Secrets” tour that includes 5 tastings, organic meat, cheese and bread, a tour of the winery, and walk through the vineyard, and participation in the harvest for 45 BGN ($24.87).
5. Rupel Winery: Purity of Amazing Melnik Wines
Rupel Winery, a relatively young winery from 2015, is named after Rupel Gorge.
The gorge is a picturesque ravine between the slopes of the Belasitsa, Pirin, Ograzhden, and Maleshevo mountains.
Rupel Winery grows a wide variety of local and international grape varieties. You’ll find Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Melnik 55, Marselan, Pinot Noir, Tamianka, Viognier, and Sandanski Misket, to name a few.
The approach to winemaking at Rupel is based on purity. Their motto is “Purity of the Varieties. Purity of the Production. Purity of the Spirit.”
The importance of purity is evident throughout the entire process, from grape growing to the wines in the bottle.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Make your culinary travels worry-free! With the right travel insurance, you’ll enjoy a delicious experience. From medical emergencies, flight cancelations, car rental protection, or tour cancelations, a good travel insurance has got you covered. Check out our travel insurance review for food lovers to get started.
Wine Tour at Rupel
Rupel Winery is open for visits every day. All tastings include vineyard and wine cellar visits, and depending on the season, you can also participate in the wine-making process.
Larger groups can order lunch or dinner in a hall in the vineyard, accompanied by a folklore program.
Rupel also offers a unique bicycle tour along the bike path from Rupel to Orbelus Winery. Bike rental, sandwiches and water, and 3 tastings at Orbelus are included.
While touring the wine facility and winemaking process, we were quite impressed with the modern technology and the investments the owners have made to produce the best wines possible.
Wine Tasting at Rupel Winery
Wine tastings are available at both the tasting room and also in the wine production facility.
The tasting room is worth visiting for its exquisite views. Perched on the mountain right above the winemaking facility, soak in the mesmerizing views of the vineyards.
During our visit, we sampled a variety of Rupel Wines from their different lines. A tasty plate of banitsa and a platter of local cheeses and cured meats accompanied the tasting.
We enjoyed wines from local grapes like the white Sandanski Misket and Melnik 55.
Rupel Winery specialty wines like the Spancha Nebbiolo & Sangiovese were a delightful twist on the popular Italian varieties. And the playful Gramatik label and fine wines capped the experience.
Address: 2869 Dolno Spanchevo, Bulgaria
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm; Sat-Sun,10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Pricing: Tours start at 15 BGN ($8.30) and include a visit to the vineyard and cellar, along with 3 or 5 wine tastings and snacks. Rupel also offers several other packages from dining in the garden (60 BGN for two people), to a three-course meal (80 BGN, approx $43.66), to a bicycle tour along the bike path from Rupel winery to Orbelus winery for 35 BGN (approx. $19.10).
6. Zlaten Rozhen Winery
Zlaten Rozhen Winery is a boutique Melnik winery located 12 km from Melnik town and just a few kilometers past Villa Melnik Winery.
The 4,000 square meters property is built near the vineyard area with 80 hectares (200 acres) yielding an annual production of 150 tons.
Zlaten Rozhen Winery grows international grape varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah.
As well as the local varieties of Melnik 55, Melnik Ruby, and the emblematic Broad Leaf Melnik Vine.
Wine Tour and Tasting
The wine tour takes visitors through all stages of the wine-making process, starting from the grape harvest to the vinification process to aging in oak barrels and bottling.
In the modern and spacious tasting room, you’ll learn interesting facts about the history of the region and taste their wines while enjoying an amazing panoramic view in a cozy atmosphere.
Tastings range from 3 to 5 wines, with or without a plate of local meats and cheeses or chocolate pairing. Or go for their VIP tour which offers up selected aged wines from their special collection.
Address: Kapatovo Village, Petrich Municipality, 2872 Bulgaria
Hours: Open daily, 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Pricing: Tour and 3 wine tastings start at 14 BGN ($7.75) up to 40 BGN ($22.11) for their VIP tasting.
7. Orbelia Winery
Orbelia Winery, unlike the other Melnik wineries, is located about 35 km from Melnik, at the foot of the Belasitsa Mountain.
The winery takes its name Orbelia from the ancient name of the mountain range which means “beautiful White Mountain.”
Opened in 2013, the philosophy of the winery is to produce high-quality wines of traditional grape varieties.
Wines from different local varieties like Broad Leaf Melnik, Sandanski Misket, and Kerzuda are produced.
You’ll also find wines from international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Muscat Ottonel.
Wine Tour and Tasting
At Orbelia, tour guides take you on a wine journey through time. Walk along the wine road and learn interesting facts and stories about the wine-making process.
In the tasting room, sample Orbelia wines along with a plate of meat delicacies, breads, and cheeses.
Choose from three or five wines or the “Best of Orelia” tasting with five of the winery’s best wines.
The winery offers tours and tastings in English. Reservations are recommended.
Address: Village Kolarovo, Petrich, Bulgaria
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Closed Sat-Sun
Pricing: There are three tasting options, each accompanied by a plate of meats, cheeses, and breads. The first package with three wines is priced at 16 BGN ($8.84) and the second package with five wines at 20 BGN ($11.05). The “Best of” package, priced at 40 BGN ($22.11) offers a tasting of 5 of the best wines of the winery.
Are you familiar with the Melnik winery region in Bulgaria? Have you tried Bulgarian wines before? Please let us know in the comments below.
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Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
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