7 Best Melnik Wineries to Visit in 2023 for Amazing Bulgarian Wine Tasting

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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.

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Map of Melnik Bulgarian Wine Routes

Find the digital format of the Melnik Wine Map here.

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

Claire and Rosemary at Villa Melnik by Authentic Food Quest
Claire and Rosemary overlooking Villa Melnik winery and vineyards

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

Barrels for Melnik Wines by Authentic Food Quest
Melnik wines aging in the underground tunnels

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

Tasting Orange Wine from Bulgaria by Authentic Food Quest
Orange Wine from 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).

RELATED: Bulgarian Wineries Guide: 5 Wine Regions and Top Wineries You Should Visit

2. Zornitza Family Estate and Winery: A Relais & Châteaux Experience

Outdoor pool with mineral water at Zornitza Family Estate

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

Large selection of Melnik Bulgaria wines in the cellar

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 

Five red wines for our wine tasting at Zornitza Family Estate

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 

Villa Sintica Melnik Bulgaria by Authentic Food Quest
Villa Sintica outdoor restaurant overlooking the mineral pool

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 

Wine Cellar Sintica Winery Melnik Bulgaria by Authentic Food Quest
The ancient wine cellars at Sintica Winery

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 

Explosion Bulgarian Red Wine at Sintica Winery in Melnik by Authentic Food Quest
Sintica Explosion Melnik 55 – Photo credit: Sintica Winery Facebook page

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  

grilled meats. 

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

Orbelus Winery Bulgaria Wine by Authentic Food Quest
Striking Orbelus Winery half barrel design

Orbelus Winery is the first certified organic winery in Bulgaria. As you approach the winery, the striking half-barrel-shaped building against the backdrop of the Pirin Mountains is unmissable.

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.

RELATED: 10 Things to Do in Melnik in 2023 With Restaurants And Hotels Recommendations

Orbelus Winery Tour

Orbelus Winery in Melnik Wine Bulgaria by Authentic Food Quest
The tasting room at Orbelus Winery

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

Rosemary and Claire at Orbelus Winery for Melnik Wine Bulgaria by Authentic Food Quest
Cheers with Orbelus Mitra

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

Tuscany of Bulgaria at Melnik by Authentic Food Quest
Mesmerizing views of the vineyards at Rupel Winery

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

Tasting Room at Rupel Winery Melnik Bulgaria by Authentic Food Quest
Intimate tasting room in the wine production area at Rupel Winery

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.

RELATED: 10 Best Restaurants in Bansko for Bulgarian Cuisine

Wine Tasting at Rupel Winery

The range of Rupel wines

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 by Authentic Food Quest
A boutique Melnik winery – Photo credit: Zlaten Rozhen Facebook page

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.

RELATED: 10 Best Wine Suitcases to Safeguards Your Bottles

Wine Tour and Tasting

Zlaten Rozhen Winery Shop by Authentic Food Quest
Zlaten Rozhen wine shop

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 by Authentic Food Quest
The exterior of Orbelia Winery – Photo credit: Orbelia Winery Facebook page

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.

RELATED: 10 Traditional Bulgarian Drinks to Sip Into Culture

Wine Tour and Tasting

Melnik Wine Bulgaria by Orbelia Winery by Authentic Food Quest
Orbelia Wines – Photo credit: Orbelia Winery Facebook page

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.

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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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20 Comments on “7 Best Melnik Wineries to Visit in 2023 for Amazing Bulgarian Wine Tasting”

  1. Great article, thank you! I will visit Melnik this weekend for first time and I am Bulgarian, shame, shame, shame…
    Just to note, two grape vines you can see/try only in Bulgaria
    1. Shiroka Melnishka loza (“Wide Melnik vine” from Melnik) and
    2. Mavrud (Plovdiv area only), so with vith visit to Melnik you tried one unique wine 🙂
    To Hannah: a lot of Bulgarian gardeners late 19th, early 20th century moved to Hungary and introduced our methods of irrigation, new vegetables e t.c. so it is normal 🙂 Next time when you visit Hungary you can see the memorial of Bulgarian market gardeners in Budapest

    • Thanks, Teo and so glad you enjoyed the article. Please do let us know what you think of your Melnik winery experiences. Good to know about Hungary and Bulgarian market gardeners in Budapest. We look forward to visiting and learning more. Cheers.

  2. Wow! I love history and hearing about Melnik and its production of wine since Homer’s days is awesome! Bulgaria is one of my favorite countries to visit because of its rich history. Sad, that I didn’t get to check out Melnik the few times I was there (another reason to go back!) The seven wineries you mentioned here sounds like a spectacular place to start getting familiar with the wine in the region. We’re definitely trying a few out when we make it there 🙂

    • Great to hear Adonis. A trip to Melnik should certainly be on your next Bulgaria trip. You’ll enjoy all the amazing wines. Just plan on spending a few days so that you don’t have to drink and drive. Do let us know if you have any questions as you prepare for your trip. Cheers.

  3. I am a huge Hungarian Tokaji wines, and some of these sound similar to the Bulgarian Melnik’s! I haven’t been to Bulgaria, so this has piqued my interest. I love the barrel shape of the Orbelus Winery – and being the first organic Melnik winery makes it really appealing.

    • That’s interesting, Hannah. We haven’t had Hungarian wines before and we’d love to try them. We are going to have look for some in our neck of the woods. Look for Bulgarian wines and Orbelus wines in your area and do let us know how the compare to Hungarian Tokaji wines. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Loved this: Homer mentions wines from the area in both The Iliad and The Odyssey! Wonder what he would think of today’s selections. I’d love to set up a long, special visit to that family estate as well. What a wonderful immersion into Bulgarian grape adventures.

  5. As I’m not a wine drinker, I am interested in knowing what else is available on a tour of wineries in Melnik. It does appear that there are some amazing resturants, like Villa Sintica’s outdoor restaurant and Mehana Old Plane. The countryside also looks beautiful! A stay at Hotel Rechen Rai with its gentle stream sounds relaxing, too.

  6. I had no idea the wines from Melnik had such an epic history. I would love to spend a few days exploring the Melnik wineries and taking in the full experience at each place. It’s so special to learn about how the different wines are produced and the things that make each winery unique. Villa Melnik Winery sounds especially interesting to me because of their commitment to using the indigenous local grapes and no pesticides. The food at Mehana Aleksova Kashta also sounds really delicious! Thanks for putting together this detailed guide!

  7. This is my kind of trip! My husband and I love trying new varietals, but we’d be immediately tempted by Spancha Nebbiolo & Sangiovese. Thank you for explaining which ones were organic and/or sustainably harvested. It’s interesting to see which techniques are being used and, of course, to taste the outcomes. Now, even more, we are adding Melnik to our travel wishlist!

    • Awesome to hear Patricia. So glad this article has introduced you to new grape varietals. Look for Melnik wines at a wine shop in your area, and start getting familiar with the wines before your trip. Please do let us know if you have any questions when you eventually plan your Bulgaria and Melnik trip. Cheers!

  8. So great that you got to visit so many wineries in the Melnik region in Bulgaria. We will remember to get a winery map to guide our visit. What an interesting variety in the wineries you visited. And some interesting wines like the Orange Wine.

    • Like you, Marlene, we were not aware of Bulgaria’s rich history in winemaking before our visit. If you do go, we highly recommend spending time in Melnik. Short of that, look for Bulgarian wines at a wine shop in your area and you’ll be surprised by the quality of wines 🙂 Cheers.

  9. I thought I heard of Melnik wine before and its when you mentioned Winston Churchill loves then, then I remembered my history lessons (not sure how I learnt that in school many years ago but it cropped up). Seven wineries to check out…right…where do I start? I only started doing wineries recently and would really love to check these ones out on my next visit to Bulgaria. Which one would you recommend to visit first? And what was your favorite?

    • It’s hard to pick a favorite winery because they are all so different. What unites them all is the use of local grapes. Anyone of them would satisfy your curiosity about Bulgarian wines. Villa Melnik is a great place to start, but all of them offer something a little different. Our recommendation is to plan for a couple of days in the region and visit them all:)


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