Bulgaria’s smallest town is a wine lover’s dream!
Melnik in southwestern Bulgaria, is home to just four hundred people who exist in a historically riveting location that is a huge hit with wine tourism enthusiasts. Many visitors swarm the town annually, interested in historic landmarks like the Pashov House which houses the Historical Museum of Melnik, the Pasha's House, built by one of the richest beys in the region during Ottoman rule—Ibrahim Bey, the Byzantine House which was originally constructed in the 12th century as a fortress, and the remarkable sand pyramids.
That’s all well and good but what about the wine right? You’re in for a real treat when you discover and taste Melnik wine. The red grapes used to make the wine are indigenous to Melnik and according to server Rozhlas.cz, cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The Greece border is close-by which allows the grapes to grow under the Mediterranean sun. This results in a legendary wine renowned the world over, with a unique taste that will entice your palate.
Wine tourism in Melnik has not been affected by the fact that both the town’s wine production and its population has decreased significantly over the years. Visitors can’t get enough of the local strong red wine—Shiroka Melnishka Loza (Broadleaf Melnik)—that was allegedly one of Winston Churchill’s favorites, and has been in production since the 14th century.
Many of the wine cellars are hundreds of years old, and are best explored when it rains. If you’d rather not hotfoot it around without knowing which wineries you should try, and those that are even operational or not, try using one of the guided bus tours to get you on your libation journey. The Wines of Melnik and Struma Valley Tours is a great one to start with, as it allows you to experience the true taste of Melnik wine, while imparting interesting historical information and stories related to the wine throughout. The tour takes visitors on a journey to five specially selected wine cellars, “one of which is a 100% organic and bio-certified winery,” according to bulgariawinetours.com.
What are you waiting for? Take a trip to Melnik, where history, culture, and wonderful architecture are punctuated by good wine. Let wine that has graced the lips of European royals since the 17th century pass yours, and be the envy of every other wine enthusiast!