Zornitza Family Estate: Best Luxury Hotel in Melnik

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.

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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.

HotelBedroomSuiteatZornitzaFamilyEstate_AuthenticFoodQuestSpacious and elegant hotel suite

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.

ViewfromtheTerrace_ZornitzaFamilyEstate_AuthenticFoodQuestView of the mountains from our bedroom terrace

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”.

aEstivum restaurant also offers fine dining with locally grown ingredients worth experiencing.

By the end of 2019, Zornitza plans to open Bistro 55, a new restaurant that will offer a more casual experience for guests.

BreakfastBuffet_ZortnizaHotelMelnikBulgaria_AuthenticFoodQuestBreakfast buffet with local products from the eco-farm

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.

KanchoStoychevrRosemaryandClaireonPropertyofZornitzaFamilyEstate_MelnikBulgaria_AuthenticFoodQuestRosemary and Claire with the founder of Zornitza Family 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.

VineyarsonProperty_ZornitzaFamilyEstate_MelnikBulgaria_AuthenticFoodQuestVineyards next to the villas

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.

OutdoorPool_ZornitzaFamilyEstate_AuthenticFoodQuestOutdoor pool with mineral water at Zornitza Family Estate

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.

ZomaSpa_ZornitzaFamilyEstate_AuthenticFoodQuestZoma Spa for therapeutic services

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.

Vineyards_ZortnizaWineryHotelMelnikBulgaria_AuthenticFoodQuestYoung vineyards on the Zornitza property

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.

WineCellar_ZornitzaFamilyEstate_AuthenticFoodQuestLarge selection of wines in the cellar

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.

CheesePlate_MelnikWineTasting_AuthenticFoodQuestCheese plate to accompany our wine tasting

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.

WineTasting_ZortnizaHotelMelnikBulgaria_AuthenticFoodQuestFive red wines for our wine tasting at Zornitza Family Estate

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. 

WineTastingHost_ZortnizaHotelMelnikBulgaria_AuthenticFoodQuestTzevetomir our host for the afternoon

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.

WineTasting_ZornitzaFamilyEstate_MelnikBulgaria_AuthenticFoodQuestSampling a variety of Zornitza wines

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.

RosemaryandClaireCheering_ZortnizaWineryHotelMelnikBulgaria_AuthenticFoodQuestRosemary and Claire cheering in front of the selection of red wines from Zornitza
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In Summary

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.

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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!

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20 thoughts on “Zornitza Family Estate: Best Luxury Hotel in Melnik”

  1. What a beautiful Villa. I love their touches of stone in their rooms. Rooms look quite spacious and cozy. The view of the vineyard from the balcony is just wow! Outdoor sauna, thermal pool, wine tasting and a visit to the organic farm will be our favorite activities here. The Cellar too looks quite good there.

  2. I love Bulgaria! I’ve been back three times in fact 🙂 Be that as it may, I’ve never been to Melnik. Now I have another reason to go back. Zornitza Family Estate is going to be on my list now. The only other thing I love besides the food and long varied history of Bulgaria is their wine. Thanks for this detailed article~

  3. The Zortniza Family Estate Hotel looks classy and beautiful at the same time. I think I could stay here for days and not get tired of the views, the beautiful pool, the comfortable room, and the attentive staff. I don’t even drink alcohol, but this place sounds heavenly!

  4. Oh wow, the suites at Zornitza are absolutely lovely! But the wine tasting looks absolutely divine! How amazing to get to stay at such a gorgeous estate with a spa, wines and ecofarm!

  5. The Zornitza Family Estate definitely looks like a great spot to stay. An award winning restaurant, a spa and a thermal pool would definitely be things we would want to try. Those mountain views look great. So great to know that the staff were an added bonus.

  6. Your blog is an inexhaustible source of attractive and luxurious places around the world. I like it that you always provide so much detail about each one of them. It makes me feel like I was already there, tasting the food and the wines. Zornitza Family Estate is yet another place to be pampered: spa treatments, mineral water, wine… What more can you wish for?

  7. I love that hotel group so no surprise you had such a luxurious stay. Wow, impressive. The wine was just a bonus. Bulgaria is such an underrated destination. Thanks for sharing a new place for me to add to my travel bucket list.

  8. OMG, we were in Bansko and Razlog in 2015 and took a road trip to Thessaloniki, Greece. We probably passed by this Zornitza Family Estate. I didn’t even know Bulgaria has a growing wine industry!

  9. I got a love-hate thing going on with Bulgaria. I had so many bad experiences backpacking here that I vowed I never go back to the country again. It was that bad. But very slowly I am starting to think about changing my mind and give it another try. And by the looks of it, I should check out this estate. I would love to try the wine but the hotel looks totally lush and would love to stay here. 🙂

    • It’s too bad you had many bad experiences in Bulgaria. We loved our time there and are looking forward to going back. I’m not sure how long ago you were there, but I would definitively recommend a return visit. And a trip to Zornitza should be on that plan 🙂 Cheers.

  10. It sounds like Zornitza Family Estate is exactly the kind of retreat we are looking for right now. We love finding thermal mineral baths, wine tasting and sampling other cuisine. The suite looks extraordinary, and since my husband and I try to take writing vacations whenever we can, that yard/patio would be a fantastic place to relax or get some work done. The entire place looks amazing, and now I’m going to look for their wines here just in case I can get a chance to do some sampling from afar. Pinned!


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