Wine Tasting Tour of Bulgaria
Bulgarian Wine Pleasures, Traditions, Culture, Art and More!
Sofia, Plovdiv, Veliko Turnovo
When: July 13 – 21, 2017
September 15 – 23, 2017
Led by: George Vishegonov
What we offer:
- Visit all 5 UNESCO cultural sites: Boyana Church, Rila Monastery, Kazanluk Thracian Tomb, Nessebur and Madara Horseman
- Accommodation at 4*centrally located hotels for 6 nights (buffet breakfast included)
- 4 cooking courses of local specialties
- 5 lunches and 5 dinners in attractive restaurants.
- Glass of wine with all dinners
- 5 Wine-tasting sessions
- Orpheus and Eurydice performance in the cellar
- Tasting of eco-cocktails of herbs and fruits
I can’t wait to go! Reserve my place with my $200 deposit per person.
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Overnight flight to Sofia, Bulgaria on the airline of your choice.
Day 2: SOFIA – PLOVDIV /220km/
Arrival at Sofia International Airport. Meet and greet your tour guide. Brief orientation tour of Sofia on your way to the heart of the city. Welcome-drink among the ruins of the ancient Roman Amphitheater uniquely exposed in the grounds of a modern hotel. Lunch in the boutique restaurant.
Drive to Plovdiv – the second largest town in Bulgaria and cultural capital of Europe for 1999 (recently announced as European
cultural capital for 2019). Plovdiv is the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe, older than Rome and Athens, and contemporary to Troy and Mycenae. Existing as a settlement about 8,000 years ago, it became a town 3,000 years ago during the Trojan war. The Romans, Byzantines, Turks and Bulgarians also left us with lasting and indelible marks. Check-in the hotel and about 2 hours for relaxation.
Drive for wine-tasting and dinner in a boutique wine-cellar in the region of Plovdiv. The wine-cellar is specialized in the production of the high-quality red wines of ‘Mavrud’, ‘Merlot’ and ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ grape varieties in limited quantity series. It is only in Bulgaria, that the wine of the ancient Thracians is still produced and drunk – the full-bodied red Mavrud. The Mavrud vine grows only in this region of Bulgaria and nowhere else. Drive back to Plovdiv for overnight at a 4* hotel. /L,D/
Day 3: PLOVDIV – STAROSSEL – PLOVDIV /150km/
After breakfast, departure to Bachkovo Monastery, founded in the 11th century and the second largest monastery in Bulgaria. Tour of the monastery, founded in the 1083. The murals, old icons from different periods, the manuscripts and incunabula with artistic facings, as well as the many objects linked with church crafts, turned Bachkovo monastery into one of the richest galleries of old Bulgarian art.
Drive further to the Thracian Ritual Temple of Starosel discovered in 2000—largest underground temple in the Balkans. Five meters deep stone waterproof trough that was used to hold more than six tons wines evidencing that wine has been made in these lands since 6thc. BC.
The winery called ‘The Temple of the wine’ is located at the foothills of the temple with capacity of producing of 1,000 tons of grapes annually (‘Merlot’, ‘Cabernet’, ‘Muscat’, ‘Chardonnay’). The technology of production is unique for Bulgaria including a special technique for fermentation and selection of grapes. The close proximity to the Temple gives you the unique opportunity
to touch the spirit of the ancient Thracians who left us the gift of the art of wine-making. Wine-tasting in a hall created as replica of one of the chambers with unique acoustics and architecture. Enjoy a musical performance presenting the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. After lunch in the cellar, drive back to Plovdiv. Free time to explore the town on your own or relaxation. Dinner in an attractive restaurant located next to the Roman remains of ancient Plovdiv. Overnight in a 4* hotel in Plovdiv. /B,L,D/
Day 4: PLOVDIV- ETUR – VELIKO TURNOVO /200km/:
After breakfast, city tour of the Old town in Plovdiv – with its unique charm, narrow cobbled streets that admire the silence and tranquillity of this historic town, elegant old buildings with painted facades /19thc./ and churches, the Roman Theatre /2ndc./, built by Emperor Trajan, the Roman Stadium /2ndc./, built by the Emperor Hadrian – one of the largest and most impressive structures from the time of the Ancient Rome on the Balkans, the Ethnographic exhibition and St. Konstantin and Helena church.
Drive further to Etura open air museum of old arts and crafts /18th-19thc./ – unique in South-Eastern Europe architectural and ethnographic complex. Master-craftsmen fashion beautiful gold, silver, copper, leather and wooden articles right before your eyes from early morning until late in the night.
Drive away to Veliko Turnovo – capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire (12th–14thc). Free time to explore the town on your own. Dinner with wine-tasting of quality wines in a newly restored inn, built in 1858 as Venetian style palace. The production of high quality wines of ‘Merlot’, ‘Cabernet’, ‘Rose’ and ‘Chardonnay’ is under the trade mark of the 150-years old inn. Overnight at a 4* hotel in Veliko Turnovo./B,L,D/
Day 5: VELIKO TURNOVO – ARBANASSI – VELIKO TURNOVO /80 km/:
After breakfast, sightseeing tour of Veliko Turnovo – the town with the most glorious historical past in Bulgaria, famous with its stone houses perched over the banks of the Yantra River. Visits to the Tzarevets Hill with ruins from the Royal Palace, the Mediaeval Fortress, the Patriarchal Cathedral and the Balduin’s Tower where the Emperor Balduin I of Constantinople died in prison.
Departure to the oldest winery (1934) and the biggest producer of natural sparkling wines on the Balkan Peninsula. The main varieties are Chardonnay, Aligote, Dimiat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot. The wine-tasting with a selection from natural sparkling wines, sparkling herbal wines, desert wines, “Pelin” /wormwood wine/, dry white and red wines. Visit of the small Museum collection presenting the history of the winery and the Roman vine-press (3rdc.).
Drive further to Arbanassi village – architectural reserve with houses and churches dated from 17th–19thc. The Arbanassi type of houses may be characterized as dwellings- fortresses. They inspire awe with their austere appearance – high solid walls, heavy gates, iron grids and secret-hiding places. Tour of the village including visits of Konstanzliev’s house, /19thc./ with museum collection and Church of Nativity /17thc./ priceless treasure- trove of Bulgarian National Revival culture.
Drive back to Veliko Turnovo. Walk along the Samovodene market – the place has been brought back to life, as in older times. Skillful master-goldsmiths, potters, wood- carvers, weavers and pastry cooks are busy with their craft. They sell exquisite objects in the small restored workshops. Free time to relax or shopping. Possibility to attend ‘Sound
& Light’ Show at Tzarevets Fortress. Dinner and overnight at a 4* hotel in Veliko Turnovo./B,L,D/
Day 6: VELIKO TURNOVO – PLEVEN – SOFIA /300km/:
After breakfast, departure to Pleven – a historical town and the first center of the Bulgarian wine industry. The first professional grape growing and wine production school opened doors there in 1890. Bulgaria’s first national wine institute was created in 1902.
Drive to Kaylaka park for a visit of the unique on the Balkans wine museum created in 2008 as a result of years of efforts of Bulgarian and French wine experts. The museum occupies a natural cave and has five galleries and a total area of 650sq.m.
The collection includes over 6,000 bottles of Bulgarian wine from all wine regions of the country, which are available for tasting and purchase. The museum boasts the country’s largest collection of over 7,000 old wines (ranging from 30 to 90 years in age). The museum’s historical hall exhibits items related to vine-growing and wine-making in the Bulgarian lands from ancient Thracian times until today – ancient dishes used in the production of wines, rhytons and glasses. The wine cellar offers wines from all Bulgarian regions stored in 100 wine barrels made of French oak. Wine-tasting in the museum (wine varieties from regions not included in the tour). Lunch in a restaurant nearby.
Optional: ‘Sound and Light Show’ Visit to the unique performance of ‘Sound and light’ Show in Veliko Turnovo, reproducing the glorious and tragic history of the Second Bulgarian Empire. The show is held for min 30 participants and if the weather permits (it is not held in the case of a heavy rain or storm). The show is upon request. Individual tourists (or small groups) can join only in case there had been a group request for the specific day.
Drive to Sofia. Free time for shopping or relax. Possibility to attend a private concert of ‘Cosmic Voices’ choir in a small concert hall. Farewell- dinner in a folk restaurant with traditional music. Overnight at a 4* boutique hotel in Sofia /B,L,D/
Day 7: SOFIA:
After breakfast, city tour of Sofia – the capital of Bulgaria. One of the oldest cities in Europe, with 8,000 years of history, it was called ‘My Rome’ by the Emperor Constantine the Great. Visits to the Ruins of Serdica – Roman fortress walls /2ndc./, St. George Rotunda /4thc./ – the oldest building in Sofia, St. Sofia Basilica /6thc./ – the oldest active church which gave the city its name, St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral /1912/ – one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals in the world, the biggest on the Balkans, the National Theatre, the Presidency and many more historic sites from ancient times alongside the modern sights of cosmopolitan city life. Farewell-drink at the hotel.
Depart for Airport for return flight home.
George Vishegonov, born in Bulgaria has traveled the world as a professional volleyball player. His experience as a coach and children’s camp director contributes to his excellent organizational and people skills.
George has lived in the USA for over 40 years. His love for Bulgaria and travel brings him back home every year where he keeps discovering amazing new places and warm friendly people that leave him with unforgettable memories every time.
He is the founder of Active Life Travel, and has dedicated his time to creating tours to Bulgaria filled with memorable experiences. His trips are especially designed for people interested in culinary adventures and unique tastes, exquisite wines, ancient history, monasteries, biking and hiking through picturesque roads from the mountains to the sea.
George is fluent in English and Bulgarian and has deep understanding of the Bulgarian culture and traditions. His passion for adventure combined with love of travel and enjoying other people makes him the perfect leader for any trip to Bulgaria.