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Wine Routes & Etnography
The region of Sandanski is widely known for its unique red wines. Probably the oldest vine variety in Bulgaria is the 'Broadleafed Melnik Vine' (or in Bulgarian 'Shiroka Melnishka Loza') which originates from the ancient Persian empire. In the Middle Ages it had been the favourite wine for the western nobilities from Venetia, Genoa, Paris, Wien, Barselona, Liverpool, etc. The wine was a favourite of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who had been ordered every year 2 barrels of 'Broadleafed Melnik Vine' from the village of Harsovo.
Another local vine variety is 'Early Melnik Vine' or 'Melnik 55'. It is a hybrid between 'Broadleafed Melnik Wine' and Valdiguie, Duriff, etc. It is with much more intensive red color and saturated taste. The rest of the local red vine varieties are 'Ruen' (hybrid between 'Broadleafed Melnik Vine' and 'Cabernet Sauvignon') and 'Melnik Rubin'. All of the local red wines are with very specific noble taste which is difficult not to distinguish among others wines.
From the local white vine varieties the most interesting is 'Keratsuda' which is with very specific aroma and light taste. Among others white vines are 'Tamianka' and 'Sandanski Misket'.
You can start the wine tour with town of Melnik where there are many small cellars almost in every house and restaurant. Don't miss the cellars 'Pri Shestaka' and 'Koropulov's House' in Melnik. You can also taste big varieties of local wines in the middle-sized cellars: villa 'Melnik' - between villages of Harsovo and Vinogradi, villa 'Orbelus' - at the end of village of Kromidovo, villa 'Zlaten Rozhen' in Kapatovo and cellar 'Roupel' in Dolno Spanchevo. Except Melnik and the abobe-mentioned commercial cellars there many local small producers which sell their wine directly on the road to Melnik, Katunci and Petrich.
Alhtough you can follow the crowded tourists routes to Melnik and Rozhen where you can explore the traditional way of life there many alternative and less known ethnographic pearls which are preserved because of their isolated location. There you will not meet many tourists.
Good start on the road to Zlatolist (Prepodobna Stojna and church 'St. George') is a village of Piperitsa located among the vineyards just meters from greek-bulgarian border.
You can continue to the village of Zlatolist or straight to the village of Goleshovo located high in Slavianka Mountain (1100 m altitude) and next to the biospheric forest reserve 'Ali Botush' (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Close to Goleshovo are found many settlements from the neolithic period.
From Katunci you can climb to the village of Pirin located in the Pirin Mountain at 630 m altitude.Explore other sights