14 February may be better known as St. Valentine’s Day in other countries, but in Bulgaria it is celebrated as the day of vine growers and of wine. Here, it goes by the name of Trifon Zarezan (the Pruner).
This is a time for wine-drinking all across the country. In Sofia, which does not fall into any winemaking region even though wine drinkers here are most plentiful, a neigbourhood Tour de Zarezan took place for the second time. The event was organized by the Bulgarian Association of Independent Winegrowers, several stores and restaurants, all committed to the popularization of Bulgarian wines. Wine tasting and presentations of the products of 19 Bulgarian wine cellars were organized at five different wine locations in the Bulgarian capital city.
The owners of young vineyards in Kapatovo village are among the wine producers who offer wine lovers in this country new combinations of wine varieties. The village is near the town of Melnik – a region known for its excellent wine making conditions. The vineyards in Kapatovo are part of a family estate where the plants are given all the care they need every day, achieving a maximum grape harvest quality.
“The estate in Kapatovo has over 17 hectares of plantations – over 10 hectares of cultivated area under fruit-bearing vines, and 7 hectares of young vine plantations. The drip irrigation system in place covers the entire area, and that ensures a good response capacity in the event of climate anomalies or drastic drought,” says Franz Dimitrov who has been working in wine production and trade for six years. He tells us more about the specifics of creating new vine plantations where none have existed.
“The first soil samples in Kapatovo were sent for analysis in France about 13 years ago. That is also where we got the propagation material. On the basis of soil and climate data analysis, we were told that the varieties we wanted to plant were very well suited to our region, and that turned out to be true. This region is typical for sun, sandy soil and a warm climate. The owners started out with very small areas planted with vines, and they were entirely for their personal use. But there came a time when they were growing more than they needed, and so the idea of selling the wine came up. Gradually it became clear that the production was very successful and was very much in demand on the Bulgarian market. So, the area under vines was extended and more wine was produced. We have now reached the maximum in vine growing. From the grapes we make both red and white wine, and, for the past year, we have been making rosé wine. We have a wide range of French grape varieties and we add to them practically every year - Syrah, Petit Verdot, Marselan, Viognier, Chardonnay. At this time we are not exporting wine – the Bulgarian market absorbs all the wine we produce. Maybe some time in the future – when all of our vineyards have grown to a fruit-bearing age – we shall consider exporting wine. In the vineyards we use most modern equipment, otherwise we could never cope with the amount of work we have. What we don’t have is our own wine cellars, so we hire specialized receptacles and recruit experts from other, well-established winemaking companies.”
2018 was a difficult year for wine producers in Bulgaria. The reason – the heavy rains and hail which caused a lot of vine disease.
“We managed to rescue the harvest but it took a lot of hard work and treatment with the right preparations,” Franz Dimitrov explains. “Actually we had better results than in previous years – about 100 tons of grapes, compared to 52-53 in past years. But that can be explained with the fact that some of our newest vines came to fruit-bearing age. I have been working in the Kapatovo orchards and vineyards since 2013. I was 35 then, otherwise I am a computer scientist by training. And that is something that is of help in my work – the logics of the various tasks are not so different. But this business is so much more interesting to me, caring the vineyards, for the land has come to be my calling.”
English version: Milena DaynovaPhotos: kapatovo.bg