Zornitza Family Estate is a boutique wine and culinary hotel located in the Struma Valley region near Melnik, Bulgaria.
During our tour of Melnik wineries, we had the opportunity to spend two nights at Zornitza Family Estates.
Set in the vast natural surroundings, we immediately relaxed in the beauty and luxury of the property.
With a gourmet restaurant, Zornitza Family Estates is also the first established Relais Chateaux in Bulgaria.
Add a Spa center, an eco-farm and a boutique winery offering wine tasting, we enjoyed an indulgent experience.
Zornitza Family Estate Villas and Hotel Suites
Zornitza Family Estate has six private villas and nine boutique hotel suites, set on a sweeping patchwork of vineyards with mountains in the background.
On the upper part is the award winning aEstivum Restaurant as well as a wine cellar and tasting room. You’ll also find the villas and the outdoor thermal pool.
On the lower part of the property, are the boutique hotel suites along with ZOMA Spa, an indoor pool and the future location for Bistro 55 and a fitness center.
We stayed in one of the hotel suites, with a blend of traditional and contemporary decor, incorporating natural stone and wood elements.
The only thing that surpassed the gorgeous property was the warm and welcoming staff.
We enjoyed a welcome drink of Italian sparkling wine upon arrival, and the discreet staff ready was always ready to realize all our needs.
Walking into an air conditioned room with soft music playing from the Bang & Olufsen sound system, we appreciated the thoughtful touches as we relaxed on the large sofa.
On the table was a welcoming sweet chocolate amuse bouche. The complimentary bar offered a fine selection of snacks, fresh water, soda and alcoholic drinks.
The bathroom, spacious with wood fixtures had plush bathroom robes and towels.
It also featured the exclusive Italian toiletries, Acqua dell Elba, giving the overall impression of a luxury spa.
We enjoyed the spacious outdoor terrace with exquisite views of the surrounding vineyards and mountains.
aEstivum a Relais Chateaux Restaurant
A member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux association, known for their gastronomy and 380+ Michelin star restaurants, Zornitza Family Estate also offers a gastronomic experience.
Recognized as one of the top restaurants in Melnik and Bulgaria, aEstivum Restaurant, at Zornitza Family Estates has been awarded for its 300+ wine list and cuisine.
aEstivum restaurant is situated right in the middle of the Zornitza Family Estate property.
The restaurant’s name comes from the Latin name for “summer truffles”, and you can find truffles in dishes, salads or desserts.
When the weather permits, it is very pleasant to enjoy the outdoor seating. Inside, the stylish interior is tastefully designed with muted colors that extend into nature.
The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner on the property.
For breakfast, you can choose from the many local ingredients served on their buffet or order a continental breakfast “a la carte”.
In our article aEstivum Zornitza: Fine Dining at One of the Best Melnik Restaurant, we detail our amazing 8-course dining experience with Chef Spasov.
By the end of 2019, Zornitza plans to open Bistro 55, a new restaurant that will offer a more casual experience for guests.
An Impressive Eco-Farm at Zornitza Family Estate
Spread out over 300 hectare (740 acres) is the impressive Zornitza Family Estate. You can take a guided tour of the property or simply stroll along the alleys and get lost in nature.
The owner, Kancho Stoychev, gave us a tour of the property in an open four wheel drive along with two guests from the U.K.
Driving through the vineyards, we made several stops at key points on the property. We stopped at a lake within the property which is used to host parties and events.
We passed by a growing truffle farm with evergreen oak trees and a colorful apiary for making honey from the estate.
One of our favorite stops was the eco-farm, which provides the ingredients for the restaurant.
Growing on the farm are organic vegetables, herbs and fruits which are tenderly cultivated.
Livestock from the eco-farm produce the beef, veal, pork, lamb and chicken used in the terroir cooking.
Additionally, homemade cheeses, butter and cured meats round out the quality ingredients used in the aEstivum restaurant kitchen.
Spa Treatments and Mineral Water
Zornitza Family Estates offers several treatment options to nourish the body and leave you feeling relaxed.
On the upper part of the property, near the restaurant, is an outdoor thermal pool with views of the mountain.
The water is naturally warm allowing you to soak in the mountain views from the pool area.
Equally complementary is an “outdoor sauna” next to the pool. While seated on the wooden bench in the inside, you look out directly to the property vineyards.
Next to the hotel suites is ZOMA Spa, offering a range of therapeutic services to revitalize and rebalance the spirit.
Following the recommendation of the host, we tried the detoxifying sequence of steam bath, salty mineral pool, sauna, cold water bucket and to finish, relaxing warm water.
After a dip in the different baths, we extended our relaxed state lounging in the comfortable reclining chairs at our disposal.
ZOMA Spa also offers personalized treatments with massage, therapies and more. And, it is also possible to order light food from the restaurant at the spa.
On the other end of the Spa is a 20m thermal indoor pool with a transparent roof. Surrounding the pool is an open area with a bar and fireplace, the perfect place to relax after a dip in the pool.
Wine Making At Zornitza Family Estate
While Zornitza has an impressive collection of wines from around the world, they also produce their own wines.
The vineyards at Zornitza are relatively young. In 2011, 50,000 sq. meters of vineyards were planted on the hills of the Estate.
The first vinification took place in 2016 with a production of about 1,000 bottles.
Since then, their production has been increasing significantly every year with 3,500 bottles in 2017 and 7,000 bottles in 2018.
The focus of the winery is quality wines over quantity.
Syrah is the dominant grape, accompanied by 17 other local and classic red wine grape varieties.
Apart from the typical Bordeaux Blend Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, Zornitza also cultivates Syrah, Grenache, Marselan, Cinsault, Petit Verdot, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese and others.
Local and traditional grape varieties such as Broad-Leaved Melnik, Melnik 55 and Melnik Rubin are sourced from local producers.
Zornitza Family Estate Cellar
Strategically located next to the restaurant is the entrance to the cellar.
On the top floor, there is a tasting room where we enjoyed a glass of Merlot from the winery with the founder.
The basement level houses the cellar, which had red wines from the property aging in French oak barrels or in bottles.
As a boutique winery, Zornitza Family Estate has a small lab, a fermentation room with steel tanks and cellar with several hundred bottles.
Everything from the grape picking to the bottling is handled manually.
Wine Tasting Highlights of Zornitza Family Estate Wines
After visiting the cellar, we enjoyed a wine tasting experience later in the afternoon at aEstivum Restaurant.
Tzevetomir, our host presented us five Bulgarian red wines from Zornitza Family Estate.
Accompanying the wines, was a tasty plate of local delicacies.
To start, a local Bulgarian sirene or white cheese, one goat cheese, Kashkaval, a local yellow cow cheese, dried duck meat and cured ham.
Blauer Portugieser & Melnik Zornitza Family Estate 2018
Our first wine was a “coupage” which is a blending of two varieties: Blauer Portugieser and Broad Melnik Vine.
The results was a Pinot Noir style Bulgarian wine. This wine had a nice finish and a slightly fruity taste.
It paired well with our first taste of the local goat cheese.
Zornitza Syrah Fifty Fifty – Zornitza Family Estate Flagship Wine
We were excited about tasting the flagship Zornitza wine from the 2018 vintage.
This unique wine is made from 100% Syrah grapes, but from two different harvest periods. Fifty percent comes from the third and the other half comes from the fourth harvest, hence the name.
Aged for four months in oak barrels, only 900 bottles have been produced.
This wine was also recently awarded a Gold Medal at a recent Balkan wine competition.
Deep and full-bodied with a spicy and tobacco finish, this is the kind of wine that pairs well with grilled meats.
Zornitza Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot 2017
The Zornitza Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot 2017 is made of 60% Cabernet and 40% Petit Verdot.
This wine, a Silver medalist winner at a Bulgarian wine contest was our favorite wine.
We enjoyed the taste of wild fruits and the slight peppery taste. The smooth finish is one of the things we appreciated most.
Surprising Sweet Wine – An Experimental Wine
An experiment from the owner, the last wine we tried was a delightful treat.
This was a semi-sweet wine, called Le Petit Quché, which comes from the owners desire to push the boundaries in wine making.
A wine lover, Mr Stoychev, we learned, takes a very active role in the wine production process.
Working very closely with the winemaker and the sommelier, whatever can be imagined can be created.
This particular wine is a late harvest Merlot, which means the grapes are left on the vines even after they have reached their peak ripeness.
Most late harvest wines are made from white grapes and are ideal dessert wines. This one, made from red Merlot grapes is unusual.
While we are not typically fond of sweet wines, this one surprised us. Despite having a sweet profile, we didn’t find it intensely sugary. We both really enjoyed this wine.
We truly enjoyed our stay at Zornitza Family Estate and appreciated the reverence to Bulgarian traditions and nature.
Located only 5 km from Melnik town and in close proximity to Greece via Thessaloniki airport, this is the ideal location to explore Southern Bulgaria with all its luxury and authenticity.
Wine tastings are available to both guests and non guests. To experience Zornitza Family Estate Wines, simply contact Zornitza here and book either a three or five wine tasting, with local delicacies.
Zorntiza Family Estate in Melnik is the perfect retreat for relaxation.
With the world-class accommodations and amenities, attentive staff, and delectable cuisine, this is the place to go to create unforgettable moments.
Looking for More Food & Wine Experiences in Bulgaria?
Love it? Pin it!
Special thanks to the Zornitza Family Estate for having us. All views and opinions expressed are our own. Full bellies and happy taste buds too!
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links. That means at no extra charge to you, we earn a small commission when you purchase using these links. Thank you for your support.
Claire, ex-engineer, is a digital nomad and content creator at Authentic Food Quest. Since 2015, with her partner, Rosemary, they travel the world in search of the best local food experiences. Their mission is to help you enjoy the best local specialties on your travels or via recipes in your home kitchen. Favorite country for food: Vietnam. Favorite local dish: Hainanese Chicken Rice. Favorite way to keep fit: Cycling. Claire is responsible for the website and the fun food & travel videos on Youtube. She is also co-author of Authentic Food Quest Argentina and Authentic Food Quest Peru, available on Amazon.