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From the vineyard to the bottle

From the vineyard to the bottle

Grapes are like children: they require care from birth to bottle. And so, every year. And the next.

You may have thought that growing grapes and making wine is not such a difficult process, since almost every Bulgarian house has one or two barrels. And maybe you are one of the few who know that good wine is mainly made in the vineyard.

It takes a lot of work and patience, and there are many subtleties throughout the year that affect the style, quality and character of the wine. However, one of the most important factors remains the climate: will it be warm, will it rain, how much and when? But what are the most important processes that a winemaker goes through from the beginning of the year?

In January, the vines are ‘half asleep’, they have no leaves, and the green saplings that grew over the summer are shriveled. Traditionally, pruning can begin as early as the end of the first month of the year, but in Bulgaria this is usually done in February, on Trifon Zarezan. This process is difficult but necessary because it determines the number of buds, which in turn are responsible for the quality and quantity of the autumn harvest. In February, in addition to the pruning already mentioned, the soil is ploughed to saturate it with oxygen and prepare it for the deeper penetration of rain for irrigation. March is devoted to planting young vines, if necessary, and at the end of the month the new shoots come out. In April, the first grass begins to appear in the vineyard, and it starts to green up. At this point we pray that there will be no devastating frosts. In most cases, this is the period when natural winegrowers start spraying preventively with bio-preparations against pests and diseases. In May, spring creates even more work in the vineyard. To prevent damage from unexpected frosts or hailstorms, agronomists try to protect the vines – some even by spraying with helicopters or lighting fires. During the summer months of June and July, the vines begin to grow, have green leaves and the first blooms appear for the future grapes. During this period the vines are very sensitive to any changes in climate. Just before the grapes change colour (veraison in French, or the beginning of the ripening period), the so-called ‘green harvesting’ is carried out, which aims to remove some of the greener bunches and concentrate the rest.

August is a key month because this is when the actual ripening of the grapes takes place. Foliage may need to be removed or some final vineyard treatments undertaken.  In some years, harvesting of early ripening white varieties or sparkling wine grapes begins as early as August.

In September, it’s serious business for winemakers: harvesting the ripe grapes. It continues, depending on the variety (some varieties are early- others: late-ripening) through October, sometimes even reaching November, especially in hotter regions. Some winemakers even leave some of the bunches to raisinate in the vineyard to produce dessert or semi-dry wines. In December, winter begins again, the leaves fall, the vines rest until February, when the next cycle of the vine’s life begins. 

Undoubtedly, the work of the vineyard is difficult, requires dedication, endurance and is not for everyone. The ultimate goal is to achieve a balance between land, vines and man and to create a wine that embodies that harmony. The play of nature’s elements is intense, full of unexpected situations, and we humans must find our place in it, creating wine with as little interference as possible.

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Northwest Bulgaria and Gamza

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Northwest Bulgaria and Gamza

Gamza or Kadarka is a wine grape variety grown in Bulgaria since ancient times. The plantings with Gamza in Bulgaria are mainly in the Danube river plain. 

Legends of Gamza

Many myths and legends are found in the north-western Bulgaria as to where the variety originated.

The inhabitants of one Bulgarian village – Novo Selo – believe that the variety comes from their lands. According to the legend, on their way back from Jerusalem to their homes, several crusaders decided to settle in Vidin region where they have planted the wonderful Gamza vine, brought from the south.

According to another legend, wines made of Gamza were already consumed at the time of ancient Bulgaria. It was believed that it bestowed magical power and helped in battles. Excessive consumption, however, leads to domestic quarrels and drunkenness, as a result of which, a local wealthy knight (boyar) ordered to eradicate all plantings of  this variety in the region. He was famous for having an unusual guard – a lion that roamed freely at night and defended the palace. As a result, soldiers of the night watch were often found dead at dawn. Only one not only survived, but also fought off the lion. In response to a question to him, what his bravery and courage were due to, he explained: to the wine from Gamza, whose vine his family kept on their estate. Thus, the boyar canceled the ban and Gamza began to be grown widely. He named it after his daughter – Gamza, in ancient Arabic: capricious.

Gamza these days

Nowadays, it seems that the chance is being missed to establish Gamza as a flagship in our country, as the Hungarians are doing. Gamza is a local variety but it is also found in Romania, Serbia, Hungary (under the name: “Kadarka”), Austria and Slovakia.

The emphasis in Bulgaria is rather put on other local varieties as Mavrud, Broad Leaved Melnik and Rubin (cross between syrah and nebbiolo). The reasons for that are:

The plantings with gamza and rather their absence:

  • There is no DNA-research and it is very difficult to find planting material in neither in Bulgaria nor in Italy or France;
  • After 1989 (the collapse of the communist regime) very few vineyards with Gamza were planted. In general the projects with new vineyards in Northern and in particular Northwestern Bulgaria are much less than in the South and along the Struma valley.
  • Many of the old vineyards are abandoned and there are very few farmers who have taken care of their vineyards during the last few decades.
  • Foreign varieties are being planted in Bulgarian vineyards such as Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Malbec, etc. thus displacing local varieties.

The second main reason is in trade and supply.

Immediately after the political changes in Bulgaria Gamza was perceived as a synonym for cheap table wine, and all good restaurants gradually removed it from their wine lists. Wines of “western” varieties, as well as imported wines, are quickly becoming fashionable. In this period, Gamza sounded “provincial”.

There are hopes and predictions that Gamza will return to the scene, but so far it hasnt happened. We view it as a personal cause and year after year things gradually start to happen. Currently, you can find gamza on many of the wine lists of good restaurants in Sofia and in the country, as well as on the shelves of specialized stores, and more and more people, mostly wine connoisseurs, are looking for it.

Abroad, wine merchants are massively looking for local varieties, because they have had enough of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah and other red varieties and Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc from the whites. Everyone is looking for something different, something typical of the given country, and if the wine bears the character of the region, things happen quickly, because the experienced wine lovers quickly recognize terroir wines.

Novoselska gamza

The variety Novoselska Gamza is the original Gamza, which is believed to have been planted in the Novo Selo area back in 1711. And while Gamza, grown in central northern Bulgaria has been relatively modified by vine- and viticulture specialists in order to produce denser wines, the Novoselska Gamza variety is distinguished by far greater elegance.

The clusters of the Borovitza winery from the “Great Terroirs” series are vinified from old vines – 45/60 years old, and those from the “Borovitza” series from vines in their strength -16/20 years old.

Here you can see all the wines of the Borovitsa winery of the Gamza variety:

Gamza, Borovitsa Collection

Gamza (Grani), Great Terroirs

Gamza (Black pack), Great Terroirs

Gamza Rose, Working label

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Northwest Bulgaria: orange sunsets and more


Northwest Bulgaria: orange sunsets and something else

By Yana Petkova and Irina Sofranova 

The Northwest and wine

Northwestern Bulgaria is little known to wine lovers and the little that is known about its nature, wines and people is rather laconic and not particularly positive.

It is true that there are many sheeps and their derivatives in the Northwest: yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese… It is also true, however, that the region offers a series of other natural goods that await its tasters. Wonderful wines, historical and cultural sights, hospitable residents, unique conditions for alternative tourism and remarkable, unspoiled nature.

We have visited the region several times and each time we leave one idea better, positively charged and somehow purified. It’s as if people are born good here. The soul of the region is pure and sublime. Here one breathes with a full chest.


Borovitsa winery welcomed us without fanfare when we first visited it, back in 2015. We got to know one part of the tandem behind the project – Ognyan Tsvetanov: a man with an alternative way of thinking who dedicated his life to wine. He walked us through the history of winemaking, told us about his own vision, and offered us some of the most wonderful sulphite free, orange and offbeat wines we have tasted. Without presenting them in detail. They were just talking by themselves. Borovitza is one of the treasures of the Bulgarian wine world. Authentic, without unnecessary emotions.

It’s life-affirming when you see people following their calling and living their dream. People, who create cultural and social values and who show you that even in godforsaken Bulgaria everything is possible. The possible is happening in the village of Borovitza, located among the Belogradchik rocks in Northwestern Bulgaria. The fantastic shapes of the rocks capture the local imagination and make people to name them and ascribe stories. The wonderful thing for us, the wine people of Avinissima and DiVino, is that right here in the Borovitza cellar happens a rare but very real wine fiction.


The style of Borovitza winery

There are hardly any more discussed wines in Bulgaria than those of the Borovitza winery. In reality, there is no room for discussion – either you understand these wines and become their die-hard fan, or with deep bewilderment you thank and do not repeat. The structure, the fusion, the idea and the execution of the wines are unquestionably looking for equals in our country also because of the unique terroir, but especially because of the visions of the founders of the project. These are Ognyan Tsvetanov and Adriana Srebrinova – people for whom pages could be filled, but since we do not have that much space in this material, we will mention only some basic (for the purpose of the post) facts.

After accepting a consulting job in the region, Ognyan Tsvetanov discovered something unseen before in Bulgaria – fresh, elegant and aromatic wines; alive and crispy. Not only white, but also red. After a process of persuasion and samples brought to her feet, his colleague Adriana was convinced, went to the place and …the rest is history. Adriana stays in Borovitsa and both begin the struggle – for land, for cellar, for grapes, for style, for recognition, for understanding. As is often the case with Bulgarian wineries that are aside of the mainstream, the recognition comes from outside, where tasters’ senses are tired of standard wines and are always on the lookout for something new and interesting. 

Fifteen years later and after hardships that temper the human will to an almost a meditative level (you know, nothing more could happen to me), the Borovitza winery today has 8.7 hectares of its own vineyards on a terroir that scientists from Harvard University come to study.

A little clarification: the Belogradchik rocks are made of variegated Triassic sandstones and conglomerates, rich in hematite pigment, with clay and quartz. Hematite is an iron oxide and rock-forming mineral, but more interestingly, it has been known since ancient times as the Magiсians’ Stone. It was believed to ward off spells and grant invulnerability, so it was used as a protective amulet against attack and injury, and American Indians even beautified their bodies with hematite dust before battle.

Craft wines

The wines of Borovitsa are an epitome of the craft approach to wine – the grapes from each small plot are vinified separately, with batches ranging between 280 and 380 bottles, and information is given on the label not only about the variety and aging, but also about the type of soil, yield, age of the vines, level of sulphites, which bottle number of the series you are holding in your hands or which vessel the wine comes from. The labels of the cellar are about 35, and thevarietal mirror is impressive: Gamay Noir, Pinot Noir, Gamza, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The combinations are incredibly diverse and you will have a hard time choosing just one favorite wine.

Borovitza is an impressive place. Not to mention the wines. But also everything around – from the imposing centuries-old oaks and huge old walnuts in front of the cellar, through the stunning beauty of the large vineyard, spread out on the hillside under fantastic red rocks and full of a rich variety of herbs in the rows, to the vital energy and total competence and uncompromisingness that streams from Adriana Srebrinova. This summer she also hosted – once again – the Festival of Fermented Products, because although the North-West is not her native region, she already belongs to it and actively encourages people to come here, to enjoy interesting events and … to have more Light in the tunnel.

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Orange wine

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Orange wine

You’ve probably heard of orange wine. But do you know exactly what it is? You won’t find orange wine in every shop or restaurant and although sought after and prized by wine lovers and the specialist wine bar crowd, orange wines are rare. And this is no accident.

In fact, the secret of our orange wine has nothing to do with wine making. The technology  is the standart one for white wine but with maceration time variing from a few hours to a whole day. The secret lies in the combination between a specific Chardonnay clone and the type of soil. Orange wine is very gentle and does not tolerate harsch interventions. It is completely natural and a wine that cannot be achieved by using industrial technology.

Borovitsa winery has been making this “new” style of wine for more than 12 years. The first vintage of Borovitsa’s orange wine was 2008 and it happened largely by chance.

“When planting this specific Chardonnay clone we didin’t know that the grape juice will be of a bright orange color, which subsequently, during fermentation, will lend orange hues to the wine”, says the owner Adriana Srebrinova. She and her co-owner and friend Ognyan Tzvetanov (who has sadly passed away)  joked that they managed to produce “Fanta orange”, but unlike Fanta this wine is very fine, elegant and completely natural. It became one of the crown jewels for Borovitsa winery and it is still made today.

A video by Avinissima Wine and Food Consulitng explains all about orange wine and introduces Borovitsa Orange Garden.

And here you can find more information and order our Orange garden.

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Award for “Best White Wine”

borovitza prize

Award for "Best Bulgarian white wine"

The year of 2022 started with a really nice surprise for us! “Strajite MRV” 2019 has received the award for “Best Bulgarian White Wine” for 2021 in the DiVino Top 50 ranking.

As we have always stated, making wine in Borovitza is a mission and a vocation, as well as it takes a lot of effort, diligence and creative courage! The point of all efforts is to offer wines that are original, interesting and bring pleasure to our fans!

We are happy and grateful for the recognition and trust that has been given to us with this award!

MRV is one of our personal favorites, which has been established over the years. A blend of the French varieties Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier, thus the abbreviation “MRV”, it conveys the character of the typical Northwestern terroir in a unique way.

Try it with the local dish “Bel Muzh”, freshwater fish, soft cheeses and pasta with cream sauces. Cheers!

borovitza prize
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Welcome to the website of the Borovitsa winery!

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Welcome to the website of the Borovitsa winery!

These days, having a website is pretty standard – the modern equivalent of giving your business card. For a long time, a website was not a priority for Borovitsa, probably because Adi’s passions are the winery, the vineyards, and above all the making of wonderful wines. 

Today, there are a few more people around Adi – enthusiasts, and this allowed the launch of this website, as well as a new Facebook page of the winery. The idea is that communication can flow freely between the winery and you – the people who taste and like the wines of Borovitsa. 

We have a lot of ideas and naturally not all of them are ready, so we have to develop both this site and other digital and real formats to communicate. Fine wine is truly an experience, and part of the experience is to share it in pleasant company. 

We want to hear from you – wine fans, and to know your opinion and impressions. We want you to share which wines have particularly impressed you. Maybe you could even inspire a wine of “your own” by contributing ideas and recommendations for the special “Working label” series, that sometimes feature wines inspired by and made for special friends. 

So – come, take a look at the information about Borovitsa and the wines that are made there. If you would like to give us feedback or a recommendation, please email us at: