Uva Nestum Wine & SPA – the planet of pleasure and smiles near Gotse Delchev, Southwestern Bulgaria

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We had had some quite busy days and we almost got overworked. Even Maria, who is in maternity leave with baby Adriana, had a lot of tasks to do. Only Anna was lucky to go to a seaside holiday. So our mission was to find a place to go, preferably far, where to have some pleasure and recharge.

The Andreev family loves to be spoiled. We also love to eat delicious food, made from good products. And not least, to drink really good wine. This time we decided to look for such pleasures in one of our favourite parts of Bulgaria – the Southwest. Now we are heading to the town of Gotse Delchev.

Sunset near Gotse Delchev

We passed by Dobrinishte and followed the road along Mesta river, which forms the beautiful gorge Momina Klisura. Baby Adriana was not very happy about the curvy road. But we quickly reached the town of Gotse Delchev, located at the foot of Pirin mountains. Pirin is one of our favourite mountains, very beautiful and always picturesque. Gotse Delchev itself can boast not only with the Pirin view but also with amazing panorama towards the Rhodope mountains, Stargach and Bozdag (a mountain in Greece).

The panorama from Uva Nestum is gorgeous
The panorama from Uva Nestum is gorgeous

We arrived at Uva Nestum at 8 pm upon one very beautiful sunset, one of those with the pink clouds and pink-blue sky. We entered the hotel and collected the keys to our rooftop apartment. And while settling, we went on the balcony to enjoy the beautiful sunset and the view to all the mountains around.

Uva Nestum Wine and Spa, Gotse Delchev, Bulgaria
Uva Nestum Wine and Spa, Gotse Delchev, Bulgaria
The view from our terrace at Uva Nestum
The view from our terrace at Uva Nestum

In this article we will not be telling how many stars and luxury rooms has the Uva Nestum Wine and Spa complex – be sure that everything is perfect. We will write about those encounters, experiences and trips that helped us rest, get to know our new friends and remind us that travelling is not only destinations and places but rather meetings, people and shared experiences.

The only thing we were told about Uva Nestum in advance was that “Is is amazing there, when you go, you will understand why”. Well, amazing can be a subjective thing and it is always strange when someone cannot explain what makes a thing so good. So we headed to Gotse Delchev without any concrete idea but as always, in positive mood.

Uva Nestum Wine and SPA
Uva Nestum Wine and SPA

Good evening from Uva Nestum

Baby Adriana sat comfortably on her highchair in the restaurant and quickly got engaged with her toys, while we greeted our company on the table, including Ivan, the owner of Uva Nestum. And while we waited for the salads and starters, he suggested that we taste their wines together with the dinner, without any extra formalities. So the ice was quickly broken in a glass of rose wine from Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Rubin. And when the conversation starts around wine, it always continues very interestingly.

Actually, the conversation started around the incredibly tasty bayonets. Ivan explained that there were some special bayonets, found in the pine woods, that were quite more delicious than the others. We are not specialists in mushrooms, but it is sure that the bayonet in Uva Nestum restaurant are indeed very tasty and well prepared.

The only photo we have from our dinners at Uva Nestum, because everything was eaten before being photographed
The only photo we have from our dinners at Uva Nestum, because everything was eaten before being photographed

For dinner we also had game sausage and a local specialty – Nevrokop’s style pork roll. And the next evening we actually abstained from ordering from the menu because Ivan surprised us with house-grown duck, more bayonets and this amazingly delicious starter on the picture.

Breakfast with smiles

The sun woke us up early but we had had enough sleep in the comfortable bed, among the serenity and fresh air around. Andrey ran into the breakfast room even before the opening time. Later we returned together to start the day with fresh baked pastries, sweets, fresh juice and delicious cappuccino. It is a wonderful start of the day when you see how everyone who you meet during breakfast is smiling.

Delicious fruits for breakfast at Uva Nestum, Bulgaria
Delicious fruits for breakfast at Uva Nestum, Bulgaria
More tasty suggestions for breakfast at Uva Nestum Wine and Spa, Bulgaria
More tasty suggestions for breakfast

A walk through one small planet between several mountains

After breakfast Ivan was waiting for us to show us around the complex. We walked through the cozy alleys of the beautiful park around, between the artificial hills, surrounding the amphitheater, by the small bridges, where children can find a whole universe of entertainment and the adults can just enjoy the romance and greenery.

The park around Uva Nestum Wine and Spa complex near Gotse Delchev, Bulgaria
The park around Uva Nestum Wine and Spa complex near Gotse Delchev, Bulgaria
Playgrounds in the Uva Nestum park
Playgrounds in the Uva Nestum park
Maria walking baby Adriana through the park of Uva Nestum Wine and Spa
Maria walking baby Adriana through the park of Uva Nestum Wine and Spa

For us the most attractive part is always the vineyards that bring some incredible coziness. The Uva Nestum Wine and Spa complex is surrounded by 23 decares of own vineyards, planted with the varieties Rubin, Syrah, Cabernet franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tamianka. The grapes are dedicated solely to the small wine cellar inside the complex.

The vineyards of Uva Nestum are grown with a lot of care and dediation
The vineyards of Uva Nestum are grown with a lot of care and dedication
The vineyards of Uva Nestum, lit by the Sun
The vineyards of Uva Nestum, lit by the Sun

Then we pass by the tennis courts, despite we do know nothing about tennis. Then, by the vineyards again, we reach the two fishponds, full with carp and trout. The fish for the restaurant is collected daily in a separate pool, in order to be served as fresh as possible. Well, we might have missed to mention that our walk is not very vegetarian.

Tennis courts at Uva Nestum, Bulgaria
Tennis courts at Uva Nestum, Bulgaria

The Uva Nestum farm

The two fishponds are a part of the larger farm of Uva Nestum, where is grown a serious part of the products served in the restaurant. Vegetarians may skip this sentence, but here we were shown where and how are grown the happy chicken, ducks and rabbits that eventually end on the table.

The Uva Nestum farm has also several decorative inhabitants, like these reindeers
The Uva Nestum farm has also several decorative inhabitants, like these deer

For a pop of colour, in the farm they also have a deer and hind, as well as a baby goat, rescued recently by one of the workers. They are not supposed to end in the restaurant, at least for now. The family of peacocks is another beautiful attraction. We were also shown how eggs are cracking in the incubator.

The peacocks, only for decoration
The peacocks, only for decoration

Then we passed by the strawberry rows and picked a few. The tomatoes in the greenhouse also looked quite delicious. In the farm they also grow various herbs.

A greenhouse at Uva Nestum Wine and Spa, Bulgaria
A greenhouse at Uva Nestum Wine and Spa, Bulgaria

The winery and wines of Uva Nestum

The Uva Nestum wine cellar produces wines only for house consumption. You can taste them in the restaurant of Uva Nestum, as well as in the restaurant of the other hotel of the same owner – Therma Vitae in the nearby Ognyanovo village. If you are lucky, they may be able to sell you a few bottles for home. Currently we can enjoy only rose and red wines, but Ivan told us that they now have new plantations of the Tamianka variety and soon there will be a white wine as well.

Our favourite place in every winery - the cellar with the barrels - Uva Nestum Wine and Spa, Bulgaria
Our favourite place in every winery – the cellar with the barrels

As usual for a small family winery, there are no strict rules in technology of wine making and experiments are common. Initially they used to ferment the different varieties separately and then to blend. However, the winemakers have become braver in the recent years and more often try to ferment grapes together, which is a bit riskier.

The rose wine of Uva Nestum
The rose wine of Uva Nestum

In the beginning we told that the rose wine of Uva Nestum is a wonderful start for every lunch or dinner, perfect to break the ice. After it, we tried the Shirto – Uva Nestum’s table wine, suitable for every lunch or casual dinner. Shirto 2017 is made from 100 % Syrah and has some contact with oak – 6 months in second-use barrels. It has a notable aroma, a lot of fruit and middle body – a wonderful table wine, going well with almost any food.

French oak barrels at Uva Nestum winery, Bulgaria
French oak barrels at Uva Nestum

The Uva Nestum Cabernet Franc & Merlot 2016 became a favourite of Maria because of its soft freshness. Full-bodied, but very soft, velvety and still fruity. A notable, harmonious wine. It consists of 70 % Cabernet Franc and 30% Merlot and has matured for 12 months in new barriques. It pairs well with pork and game, as well as any other red meat.

Finally we tasted the Uva Nestum Rubin & Merlot 2016, which is 80 % Rubin and 20 % Merlot, aged for 12 months in new barrels. It is a complex, lively, a bit wild wine, which is typical for a Rubin wine. Sparkling colour, matured tannins, complex and harmonious body.

Maria and Adriana taking photos with wine barrels at Uva Nestum wine cellar
Maria and Adriana taking photos with wine barrels at Uva Nestum wine cellar

Most important – the relax. SPA and other pleasures at Uva Nestum Wine and Spa

As we first mentioned in the beginning, we came to Uva Nestum first of all to find rest, both physical and spiritual, and to recharge for our next trip to Cyprus. So we dedicated our Sunday to relax and tested everything we could in the spacious SPA centre in Uva Nestum. And in the Sunday afternoon we were the only visitors there.

The indoor pool at Uva Nestum
The indoor pool at Uva Nestum
Salt room for relax in the Uva Nestum Spa center
Salt room for relax in the Uva Nestum Spa center
Hot tube with mineral water at Uva Nestum
Hot tube with mineral water at Uva Nestum

Adriana happily bathed in the warm pool and then, very tired, fell asleep on her father’s chest. Meanwhile, Maria took a tour around the thermal zone and had a few rounds of sauna, steam room, ice bucket and the relax room. About the fitness – well, we only saw it through the window because the main sports we practice are raising children and drinking wine.

A sweet rest after playing in the pool - Adriana and Andrey
A sweet rest after playing in the pool
Maria and Adriana play with the ice bucket at Uva Nestum Wine and Spa
Maria and Adriana play with the ice bucket at Uva Nestum Wine and Spa
The thermal zone of Uva Nestum - sauna, steam room and relax room
The thermal zone of Uva Nestum – sauna, steam room and relax room

Finally we took one more procedure each – a massage for Andrey and wine therapy for Maria, and went out refreshed and beautified, but first of all, smiling and relaxed.

Our family on the cozy traditional corner on the second floor at Uva Nestum
Our family on the cozy traditional corner on the second floor at Uva Nestum

About Uva Nestum Wine and Spa, the stars and the people

“We have prepared a crib for the baby, if you need anything else, let us know. We can also provide a sterilizer and a bottle warmer”. That was a part of the communication between us and the Uva Nestum team while organizing our stay there.

The personal attention is one of the things in hotels that make a great impression
The personal attention is one of the things in hotels that make a great impression

I admit, I have never been offered such things in a hotel. When we arrived, we also found a special bin for diapers. If you travel with baby, you already know how much space in the car occupy the above things. And how easy they make you life if they are available in the hotel.

Our apartment at Uva Nestu, where we felt better than home
Our apartment at Uva Nestum, where we felt better than home
The stairs to the second floor
The stairs to the second floor

Uva Nestum is not just a hotel where you sleep and have rest. Uva Nestum is a philosophy that needs to be experienced. Care is the most important thing there.

Our bedroom at Uva Nestum Wine and Spa, spa hotel in Bulgaria
Our bedroom at Uva Nestum Wine and Spa, Bulgaria

I have no idea by what criteria hotels are being awarded stars. But I know that whatever is done, it is done by people. And if one place makes you feel cozy and cared for, this is usually by purpose. All of these people aim at this – to make you feel good.

The lawns of Uva Nestum are extremely cozy
The lawns of Uva Nestum are extremely cozy

These, who gave the idea to create this whole place, including buildings, farm, lakes, parks and gardens. All of these who participated in the creation of the place. And finally, all of these who are now part of this magic and make it happen. The ones who bring you candies for good night. The ones who help us pick the best meal for the best wine. The ones that are ready to help you prepare baby food at 8 am. And all of these with whom we spent long hours discussing the idea that the most important thing about a hotel is not something too special. It is actually the most human thing – the personal human attention. And not some special attention – just human attention. To get up in the morning with the thought to make someone smile and feel good today. This is not measured in stars.

The fountain at Uva Nestum park
The fountain at Uva Nestum park
The spacious and light foyer with a river flowing through it
The spacious and light foyer with a river flowing through it

For the record, the stars are five. We learned it from a small sign next to the exit of the hotel (not the entrance). But even without noticing it, everyone by this time should already know or at least feel that the best have happened to him – he felt wonderful.

Our joyful team at Uva Nestum Wine and Spa
Our joyful team at Uva Nestum Wine and Spa
The kids room at Uva Nestum
The kids room at Uva Nestum

Our top places to visit around Gotse Delchev

What a holiday it is without beautiful places to visit for a walk and sightseeing? Here are our suggestions what to see and do around Gotse Delchev, Bulgaria.

Kovachevitsa, Leshten and Gorno Dryanovo villages

These three villages are located on the same road. Kovachevitsa and Leshten are among the most romantic places in Bulgaria. First is Leshten – 12 km from Gotse Delchev, then Gorno Dryanovo – 14 km, and then Kovachevitsa – 19 km. Leshten is a small village with traditional stone houses. Currently, there are a lot of new hotels and guest houses there, rather than local inhabitants. It is still a cozy place, despite quite touristic. Up in the mountains, it is visible from Uva Nestum.

Maria and the view to Leshten village
Maria looking towards Leshten village

A few kilometres after Leshten, on the same road is Gorno Dryanovo village. I mention it because it is a great contrast to the traditional, calm and quiet Leshten. Gorno Dryanovo is a lively village with more than 1000 population, mostly Bulgarian Muslims. After you pass Gorno Dryanovo and drive a few more kilometres up in the mountain, you will reach the beautiful Kovachevitsa. There is preserved the authentic spirit of the whole village, with the old stone houses. It is indeed one of our favourite places for walks. My memories bring me back to 2006 when it was not very popular among tourists and there were more local residents. We had a pleasant walk with delicious apples.

Kovachevitsa village
Kovachevitsa, a very special place in the Rhodope mountains. A beautiful village with many wonderful stone houses but very few inhabitants.

Nowadays, there are only a few locals in Kovachevitsa left. Most of the houses have been bought by people from the larger cities. However, it is still incredibly beautiful place.

Delchevo

Delchevo is another curious village, some 9 km from Gotse Delchev, up in the South Pirin mountains. There you can again enjoy the old traditional architecture and the view of many old houses, build amphitheatrally on the steep terrain. The narrow cobblestone streets between them are extremely cozy. Once Andrey took a walk along them in a rainy day and almost got lost, while Maria and Anna had delicious lunch in the local restaurant and enjoyed the rainbow from the terrace.

Delchevo village
Delchevo village

Dolen

We visited Dolen for a weekend a few years ago, when Andrey took Maria into an adventure in a 200-year old house. Since then she is extremely suspicious when Andrey suggests such kind of experiences. However, Dolen village is very romantic and authentic, at least it was like this last time we visited.

Dolen village
Dolen village, Bulgaria

Ognyanovo

We have been many times in Ognyanovo for various occasions, but mostly because we love hot mineral pools, especially the outdoor mineral pools. In Ognyanovo we have bathed in the hot natural spring one night in the winter, about 1 am., and felt wonderfully.

Miroto is entrance-free and accessible anytime, even at night.
Miroto , the hot spring in Ognyanovo, is entrance-free and accessible anytime, even at night.

Last time in Ognyanovo we stopped for lunch in the restaurant of Therma Vitae hotel, owned by the same owner as Uva Nestum. We had a delicious lunch, again with the Uva Nestum wines. About the hotel, we plan to visit in in the autumn or winter to enjoy the hot outdoor pools.

A part of the new seasonal menu at Therma Vitae hotel
A part of the new seasonal menu at Therma Vitae hotel

The truth is that there are many other places we have to discover in this region. Now we will only mention them and when we visit, we will tell more about them.

The St. Apostle Pavel chapel is one of the new attractions in Ognyanovo
The St. Apostle Pavel chapel is one of the new attractions in Ognyanovo

Nicopolis ad Nestum

The ruins of the ancient city Nicopolis ad Nestum are located close to Gotse Delchev, just next to Garmen village. The town was flourishing during the II – IV century and was an important centre along the legendary route Via Egnatia, connecting Rome with the eastern provinces of the empire. We have stopped at the archaeological site a few times but we still have to dedicate more attention to it. So we will tell you more about it another time. 

More places to see around Gotse Delchev

More places that we are still to see include the town of Hadzhidimovo and the Hadzhidimovo monastery, as well as the village of Teshovo. We have not been to Teshovo either but we have heard that the St. Dimitar church is very beautiful and is worth visiting.

We finished our stay at Uva Nestum with a quick dinner at the garden of the restaurant
We finished our stay at Uva Nestum with a quick dinner at the garden of the restaurant

 In our Instagram account we share more photos and thoughts from our trips and daily life, so if you are curious, follow us there, too.

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