Wine tourism

The Sakar & Eastern Rhodopes. 2 nights, from €230

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3 days, 2 nights

This tour takes you to a wine region often called the Bulgarian Napa Valley because of the landscape dominated by vineyards and the multiple wineries situated close to each other. On this tour, you will go deep into the south of Bulgaria reaching the border to Greece. Here, in the Sakar and Eastern Rhodopes Wine Region, there are a number of intriguing wineries. First, you get to visit the small wine village of Kolarovo and three diverse wineries - Castra Rubra, Malkata Zvezda and Chateau Kolarovo. On your second day, you will visit the southeastern village of Mezek, where two very different wineries await you - Mezek Winery and Katarzyna Estate. The cultural highlight of the day is the Mezek Thracian Tomb. The tour ends with a visit to the Perperikon ruins - an ancient Thracian town and sanctuary. Experience the rich cultural heritage and pristine nature of the Eastern Rhodopes and Sakar Mountains - the region with the highest number of endangered bird species in Europe. This tour provides a mix of emotions and experiences and lasting memories of Bulgaria's re-emerging wine regions.

Day 1
The tour starts from the ancient town of Plovdiv - Bulgaria’s second largest and Europe’s oldest city. At 9 am, we drive from Plovdiv to the village of Kolarovo - the heart of the Sakar wine country. Chateau Kolarovo is the first winery on the agenda. Here, we will sample the wines and talk about the characteristics of the region. Just 5 minutes away lies the bigger wine estate - Castra Rubra. A representative will give a tour of this impressive winery that boasts cutting edge technology as well as excellent high quality wines. A tasting of five wines followed by lunch. Last on today’s programme is the small but charming Malkata Zvezda [the Little Star]. Wine tasting session with the onsite winemaker. Transfer to the rural guesthouse The Wild Farm which also has an organic farm located in Gorno Pole village in the Eastern Rhodope region. Family-style dinner in the guesthouse dining hall.
Meals included: Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: The Wild Farm - Gorno Pole Village

Day 2 
After breakfast, we drive to the village of Mezek located at the foot of the Eastern Rhodopes and not too far from the Bulgarian border with Greece. Visit to the small family winery - the Mezek winery. Showaround by owner and sampling of wines. Next, a visit to the nearby Thracian Tomb of Mezek. Lunch. Short transfer to a very modern winery – Katarzyna Estate – where a different winery experience awaits. Here, we will experience a walk-through of this beautiful estate located very close to the Greek border and taste the wines. We will also have the opportunity to enjoy the fantastic scenery and take a stroll in the gardens. Transfer back to The Wild Farm. Dinner can be organized at The Wild Farm or  a local restaurant in a nearby town.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: The Wild Farm - Gorno Pole Village

Day 3
After breakfast, visit to the ruins of the ancient Thracian city of Perperikon. Transfer to Plovdiv.

The price includes:
Transfer from and to Sofia/Sofia Airport.
All ground transportation with a minivan/car included in the tour’s itinerary
2 nights at The Wild Farm (Gorno Pole) in shared ensuite doublerooms
Wine tasting at Chateau Kolarovo incl. water and appetizers
Wine tasting at Castra Rubra incl. water and appetizers
Wine tasting at Malkata Zvezda incl. water and appetizers
Wine tasting at Mezek Winery
Wine tasting at Katarzyna Estate incl. water and appetizers
Lunch & Dinner on Day 1
Lunch on Day 2
Breakfast on all days except for Day 1
Visit to Mezek Thracian tomb
Visit to Perperikon
Tour leader from Bulgaria Wine Tours
Guided tours of wineries by onsite winemaker
Tour operator insurance from HDI Insurance in case of non-provision of services
Medical insurance with coverage up to 2000€

The price does not include:
Flight tickets
Private transfers
Meals and beverages not mentioned in the tour description
Visa fees, if applicable
Extras and incidentals

2 – 3 persons – €440 per person 
4 – 8 persons – €310 per person 
9 – 14 persons – €230 per person

During the tour we will visit the following wineries:

Chateau Kolarovo
Chateau Kolarovo was established in 2009 by Stoyan Stoyanov. Originally from Stara Zagora, his family heritage brought him to the area and urged him to produce wine. As the name suggests, Chateau Kolarovo is located in the village of Kolarovo in the southern Sakar mountains. The village of Kolarovo has about nine permanent inhabitants; however, there are four wineries in the village. The area is highly suitable for viticulture. Chateau Kolarovo does not dazzle with its appearance – the winery building used to be an old cheese-manufacturing facility. However, once you try the wine  produced there, it will certainly make an impression and you will be coming back for more.

Castra Rubra
Castra Rubra winery is situated in the village of Kolarovo and is named after the ancient Roman establishment that was used for rest and changing of horses by the Roman postal services. It was also named Castra Rubra (which means The Red Fortress) and was situated along one of the most important roads in the Roman Empire – Via Diagonalis - that connected Rome with Constantinople. Castra Rubra has rightly become one of the most famous Bulgarian wineries because of its unique architecture, technology and, of course, excellent wines. It is also the only Bulgarian winery that Michel Rolland, a prominent French oenologist, consults. Michel Rolland says that the terroir, the 40+ year old vineyards and the ambitious team at Castra Rubra are all prerequisites for making of great wines.

Malkata Zvezda
Malkata Zvezda [The Little Star] stands at the crossroad of four ancient Roman roads, including the most important one – Via Diagonalis. Hence, the name, which comes from the star-like shape of the place where these roads meet. Because of this strategic location, this area was a “duty free” area in the Roman times, where the main commodity sold was wine. Malkata Zvezda makes the best of their 30+ year old vineyards and produces remarkable red wines. These wines have also become popular in the sacred Mount Athos (Greece), where Malkata Zvezda annually sends shipments of their special brand “Sveta Gora” dedicated to the Bulgarian monastery in Athos. The team at Malkata Zvezda boldly experiments with the local varieties Mavrud and Pamid, and its little star is shining ever brighter on the Bulgarian wine horizon.

Mezek winery
The story of the Mezek winery sounds like a fairytale. The winery is a creation of a graphic designer by profession and winemaker by heart – Sasho Karapeev. After years spent in the hustle of city life, Sasho decided to return to Mezek village to take over an estate he inherited. Thus, with the help of his own hands and artistic talent, little by little, Sasho built the various buildings of his winery – the wine cellar is constructed in Thracian style, purely from stone and wood  (no cement or iron used) and the decorations of the buildings were done by Sasho himself. Mezek winery does not have its own vineyards but buys the best quality grapes from the vine-growers nearby. In addition, everything in the wine-to-bottle process is done by hand and using traditional methods. Sasho Karapeev and Mezek winery prove that if you put your heart into something, the good results will inevitably follow. Now, Sasho sells a few thousand bottles he makes every year straight from the winery’s door and has turned his little estate into a small wine museum. Mezek winery will surprise you and even baffle you at first. However, you will surely leave enchanted by the atmosphere and the divine wine.

Katarzyna Estate
Katarzyna Estate is yet another proof that the Eastern Rhodopes and Sakar wine region has the potential to make Bulgarian wine famous worldwide. If you miss the turn to the neat iron gate on the side of the road, you will end up at the border with Greece. The vineyards that surround the winery are located on plots of lands with various soil types and enjoy the highest number of sunshine hours in Bulgaria. In addition, the architecture, equipment and artistic elements of the winery itself are a testimony of the meticulous work put into Katarzyna Estate. However, it is the wine and the stories behind it that leave the most lasting impressions. Each label and each name has a fascinating story like the one of Katarzyna’s most successful brand – Question mark. It was the first wine to participate in a wine competition and the Katarzyna team did not expect much. They did not even have a name for the wine yet, so they just put a question mark instead of a name on the label. The wine won the gold medal and the name (and label) remained. If you are still asking how good Bulgarian wine could be, then maybe Katarzyna Estate has the answers for you. Mitkulishev Photography Ivan Mandevski © Photo: Svetoslav Todev

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