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Buying a Vineyard

What about buying a vineyard in Bulgaria? Imagine sun-kissed vines, a bottle of your "own label" on the table set on the terrace outside your very own special property.

This is an enticing lifestyle but many forget how hard the work is and how demanding a vineyard can be. For those who dream of this idea and want to do it, we take a look at the possibilities.

Finding your perfect vineyard is something of a hit and miss affair. First of all, do you want it as a hobby or to really make money? Even, once you have decided this, many working vineyards change hands privately and do not come up for sale on the open market.

A vineyard in Bulgaria is a particularly attractive proposition, when one considers that 1,000 sq.m of vines in much of the EU will set you back 4,000 euros, yet in Bulgaria prices are from 500 euros to 2,500 euros depending upon the condition of the vines. This makes for high demand of such properties.


A Potted History

During the 1950's, there was massive planting of various international grape varieties, mostly dedicated to exporting every day wine to the Soviet Union. By 1966 Bulgaria had become the sixth largest wine exporter in the world. In 1999 with 117,000 hectares producing 2.9 million hl of wine per year, Bulgaria was the third largest vine growing country of PECO. These days, as in times gone by, Bulgaria still aims at the export market, selling almost half of all wine produced overseas.

The problem is that from the 80's there was a decline in Bulgarian vineyards due to the decrease of export of wine to the Soviet Union. Many vineyards received little or no investment. During the 90's the state monopoly of the wine industry stopped and resulted in all the wine cellars being privatised.


Present Day

More than 97,000 hectares are covered by 80 industrial wineries.

The main varieties grown are Cabernet Sauvignon (14%), Rkatzeteli (14%), Merlot (12%), Pimid (11%), Red Misket (8%), Dimyat (6.5%), Muskat Ottenel (6%), Chardonnay (2.7%), Gamza (1.6%), Riesling (1.3%), broad vine from Melnik (1%), Sauvignon Blanc and Traminer (1%)

Current trends are towards white wine varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, along with the red wines of Cabernet, Merlot and the broad vine from Melnik.

It is interesting to note that the wine industry in Bulgaria accounts for 30% of farm exports to the EU. The wines being sold mainly in the UK (accounting for 25% of exports), Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands.


Five Wine Regions

Nonetheless, the potential for wine making in the country is enormous, with five main wine regions. The climate in the northern area is continental with cold winters and hot summers. With the influence of the Black Sea and the Med, the climate is milder in the south. Local hilly terrain creates ideal micro-climates with good quality soil - making excellent conditions for growing high quality grapes.

The five regions, together with their percentage of total vineyards, are :

Northern - 35%
Including the Danube plain and the vinyeards of Rousse, Svischtov and Suhindol. This area also includes Veliko Turnovo

Sub Balkan - 7%
The area around the Valley of the Roses

Eastern - 30%
The Black Sea area. Particularly the white wine regions of Targovishte and Preslav

South West - 6%
The region of Struma Valley

South - 22%
The Thracian Valley along the Maritsa River