government nationalized wine production:
With the advent of the Communist government in 1944
the vineyards and wine production units were nationalised.
The small plots of land, which characterized the wine
industry before the World War II, were nationalized
and incorporated into large, co-operatively managed
vineyards. The process of collectivisation led to incorporation
of a large number of plots and the vineyards belonging
to individuals were reduced from 84 000 ha in 1939 to
just 2 200 ha in 1959.
Indigenous grape varieties such as Mavrud,
Melnik, Pamid and
Gamza increasingly gave way to 'international'
varieties, such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay
in an attempt to move with the rest of the winemaking
world. Parallel with the advances in agriculture, construction
of large wineries commenced. The wine industry was heavily
export oriented and in the 1980-s exports were in the
160-210 million liters range. Main trading partners
were fellow Eastern European countries, but in the second
half of that decade Western Europe started to gain in
importance and share over the Eastern markets.
New era of Bulgarian wines with modern attitude:
With the political and economic changes starting from
November 1989, the alcohol monopolies on production,
domestic and international trade in Bulgaria were dismantled
to create the grounding for the development of the private
sector. The vineyards were returned to their original
owners, wineries and the trade were also privatized.
Currently the wine industry is 100% privately managed.
wine industry has gone through very challenging times
with fragmentation of vineyards and grape supply problems.
On the side of wineries, they had to modernise production,
re-define their marketing strategies, secure cash flow
and markets. These problems persisted through the 1990s.
While the Bulgarian wine industry was heavily criticised
by international and local wine professionals for the
discrepancy in investment in vineyards and processing
units (with the latter attracting the lion's share of
private money), things look quite different now.
EU funds and private investment from wineries and agricultural
companies have secured more than €100 million for
the past four years, which resources were invested in
vineyards. Currently there are 149 registered wine producers
but the number of wineries is steadily going up with
medium-sized and 'boutique' ones being en vogue.
Staff training is also a priority and the know-how is
sourced both from international consultants (David Wollan
from Australia, Michel Roland and Stéphane Derenoncourt
from France are few of the names) and local winemakers,
which acquire hands-on experience, mainly in New World
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