Home TravelsBulgaria Medi Valley winery and some wine experiments near Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Medi Valley winery and some wine experiments near Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

9 minutes read

A nice detour from the road to Rila Monastery – visiting Medi Valley winery near Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

The autumn came and we decided to greet it on a nice place. What I first imagine about autumn is the harvesting of the grapes. In Bulgaria many people have vineyards and when I was a child, I was regularly involved in this process. So this weekend we decided not to go harvesting but to learn what is done with the grapes after picking them. The destination was about 100 km south from Sofia, near the city of Blagoevgrad. It was Medi Valley winery – a nice wine cellar where we arrived for a quick tour but spent there 5 hours.

Vineyards ready for harvesting near Smochevo village, Bulgaria
Vineyards ready for harvesting

We arrived at Medi Valley at noon and headed straight to the tasting room. There we were met by our kind tour guide Rositsa Atanasova who was at the time explaining details about wines to another group of wine enthusiasts. It was a busy day but what else you could do on a cold and wet weekend day in the early autumn? Of course, visiting a winery is one of the best ideas, especially in Bulgaria.

Sorting the grapes

That day was the day of harvesting Merlot and we were happy to witness what happens with the grapes after being harvested. But the first thing to do was to taste the tiny blue grapes because we had never actually tasted a specific wine variety of grapes. It was great tasting and the only difference with standard table varieties we found was the size of the grapes. While tasting, we watched how the workers at the winery sorted the grapes and cleaning them from leaves and other alien objects.

Vintage 2017, Medi Valley winery, Bulgaria - Merlot
Vintage 2017 – Merlot

It was great to watch this process because it is authentic and natural. It is one thing to walk among the barrels and completely different to taste the grapes and see them starting their way to wine. Of course we were enthusiastic to discover every step of this process so we headed to the room with fermentation tanks.

[success]Medi Valley grows a lot of grape varieties – Chardonnay, Traminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. They also have an estate in the Danube plane (near the town of Vidin), where they grow Chardonnay, Viognier, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. [/success]

What we learned about Medi Valley winery

The room with fermentation tanks is probably the least attractive place for visitors but if you have a good guide, you could learn many interesting things there. Rossi proved to be a wonderful guide and told us a lot about the technology at Medi Valley. For example, we learned that the winery is using just a part of its capacity because they prefer to focus on producing limited quantities of high quality products.

Fermentation tanks at Medi Valley winery, Bulgaria
Fermentation tanks at Medi Valley winery

They have their own vineyards but they also buy grapes from other controlled producers. Around the cellar you can see around 10 decars of vineyards, some of them very young. Despite it is very beautiful to enjoy the view of vineyards around the winery, it appeared that it was very difficult to buy land in this area. This is why most of Medi Valley’s vineyards are on other locations.

Young vineyards around Medi Valley winery, Bulgaria -
Young vineyards around Medi Valley winery

Pink Traminer and some other experiments

We had a lot of fun with the word “maceration” which sounds really funny in Bulgarian, especially for people who are not wine professionals. Rossi explained us what maceration is and how the wine technicians decided to experiment with the technology of producing Traminer wine. Instead of separating the juice from the peels and seeds, which is a usual practice when producing white wines, they instead kept them together for 48 hours at low temperature in order to extract more flavours and colours. This is actually the cold maceration process. The result was “A Good Year Traminer Pink”, which we immediately loved.

We were so excited about the pink traminer because we love both pink-coloured wines and Traminer wines and we had never imagined that we can have them both.

The heritage of ancient Thracians

The most attractive place in every winery is doubtlessly the cellar where they store the barrels. In Medi Valley, before you reach it, you pass through a nice museum-like room. There you can see replicas of paintings in Thracian tombs around Bulgaria and also samples of Bulgarian soils.

Medi Valley wine cellar
Medi Valley wine cellar

Here we learned what the name of Medi Valley winery means. It comes from the ancient Thracian tribe Medi, which are famous both with their hero Spartacus and with their proficiency in grapes growing and wine production. The Medi inhabited the middle Struma Valley, somewhere around the today’s location of Medi Valley winery.

Going down to the cellar

We were impatient to reach the end of the tunnel and enter the cellar with tens of new French barrels. Every year a part of them is replaces with brand new barrels that host the highest quality wines of Medi Valley. One barrel is not used more than 4-5 times. After its retirement, it continues its life as a decoration in the winery or at the home of some of their customers.

Beautiful French barrels at Medi Valley winery
Beautiful barrels at Medi Valley winery

We spent a lot of time in the cellar, mostly taking photos around the barrels. Down in the cellar there is also a wine tasting room and I guess it would be very nice to enjoy wines while sitting among barrels.

Our daughter Anna and the barrel produced in the same year she was born
Our daughter Anna and the barrel produced in the same year she was born

It was a very cute experience to discover barrels being produced in the same year our daughter was born. It will be great if we still can afford wines produces in 2014 after some years.

The wines of Medi Valley

After the cellar we came back to the main tasting room where we took our seats with a view to the mountain and the vineyards. it was very difficult to decide which wines we would like to try. Unfortunately, someone had to drive so we couldn’t enjoy their whole catalogue.

Wine bottles
Wine bottles

We were unanimous about the pink traminer which was wonderful. It is from the base line of Medi Valley – A good year. Then we turned our eyes to theit middle class series – Excentric Incanto. This line is very interesting because features many technology experiments.

A Good Year Traminer Pink by Medi Valley winery, Bulgaria
A Good Year Traminer Pink

We tried the Viognier made by 3 different technologies – we loved it. Then we tasted the Rose from the same series, which includes grapes from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and the local variety Melnik 55. Another wonderful wine to remember.

The red wines did not disappoint us either. We started with Medi Valley’s most recent product – Excentric Incanto Melnik, made entirely of the local variety Melnik 55, grown in the region of Melnik. Finally, we had the Incanto Syrah from Medi Valley’s premium series.

I am not writing many details about the wines we tasted because we just loved them. They were just great and I would recommend you any of them.

Maria and the wine
Maria and the wine

It appeared that we had spent 5 hours at Medi Valley winery. We could have stayed even more. In the evening we continued our tasting at home with a bottle of Mavrud, another traditional Bulgarian grape variety and it was not a surprise that we loved it, too. However, after our visit to Medi Valley we become even more picky about the wines we drink.

Many thanks to Rossi for the exhaustive explanations and the huge patience to spend so much time with us!

Where to now:

Medi Valley winery is very close to the main road to Rila Monastery. You can reach it from Struma highway, the junction for Smochevo and Boboshevo. Another option is from the junction for Rila town. That road is quite curvy but not too bad.

Rila monastery, Bulgaria
Rila monastery

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