2006 is not only the last year before Bulgaria accedes to the EU and the opening of borders to Europe but also the year in which the Balar Winery was born – a promising project that opens completely different dimensions to wine production. It all begins with the planting of 140 decares of vineyards around the Skalitsa Dam, 36 km southwest of the town of Yambol, at the foot of the Monastery Hills. The abundance of sunny and warm days, low rainfall, and altitude of 150-200 m that forms the terroir where Muscat Ottonel, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Carmenere, and Tempranillo find their home. A colorful variety of participants, just like the story surrounding the Balar endeavor. The dreams and longings of nine friends from Yambol to drink delicious wine from their vineyards become a reality. The first wine appeared in 2009, and since then, many Ks have been listed in the Balar crown.
What is K? K is a blend because the people behind the project initially thought they would produce blended wines and numbered it 1 to 9, depending on the varieties. With vintages, varieties in blends change, but their style and character remains. The K Series wines are aged between 4 and 8 months in 225-liter French oak barrels and at least a year in a bottle.
The cellar produces about 30,000 bottles a year, with no ambition to increase the quantity. Quality is a cult concept. Diana Stoyanova and Svetlana Koeva, winemakers in the winery and one of the main participants in the irreparable uniqueness of the vision, are behind the quality care.
And if K is a fortress, a stronghold where red varieties boldly express their qualities and peculiarities, then Ballarina is a symbol of the elegance, tenderness, and aroma of white and rose wines. Ballarina is a game of words, a sense of lightness and freshness, and also the beautiful and charming lady of Balar. She is naturally playful and flexible as a ballerina and smells gentle and catchy.
Balar is an Old Bulgarian word that means wise man, wise. They say that wisdom cannot be reached so quickly, and sometimes a lifetime is not enough. Guided by spontaneity and the pursuit of naturalness, Balar comes to the idea of vitalization. A practice that is known from Masaru Emoto but in a slightly different form. The Japanese freeze water after prolonged exposure to music or spoken words, and then remove its crystals to make a massive difference in the structure of ordinary water. The concept of Balar is the energy of vibrations that affect the molecular charge of a liquid and change the aura of matter.
The vibrations come from the music that is played to a selected wine barrel, and through a particular device, they are dispersed only inside the liquid itself. All happens without the sound reaching the outside of the room. And after the decision was made, in 2013, the first wine was launched, a blend between Merlot and Petit Verdot in equal proportions. Nine are Beethoven’s symphonies, the first choice for musical accompaniment in the process of wine aging is the Ode to Joy.
Ode symphonies are thought to be the best of this author, which is why the series from K1 to K9 appears. 2016 is the second vintage of vitalized wine, where Petit Verdot and Merlot appear again, but this time in a 60/40 ratio and Vivaldi was used as an accompaniment.
And once the experiment is complete, the vitalized wine needs to be isolated. Balar Winery uses a platinum bottle for this purpose. From the first vintage were produced 320 bottles and from the second one, 1180 bottles or 4 barrels in total.
How do they come up with this idea? In search of another dimension, something different from the usual common human understanding. To deliver pleasure, to be useful, or to add sentimental value, for no reason, but not by chance, following an inner instinct. In May 2019, after six years of waiting, Ballar finally received a well-deserved recognition – a patent for an invention by the Bulgarian Patent Office. But not only the winery but also the buyer of wines get a bit of uniqueness – only a kind of vitalized wine created by patented technology.
And just like any new initiative is appreciated, Balar’s wine medals do not come too late. The Gold Medal for Vitalized Wine 2013 at the London Wine Experts Awards, the Gold Medal for Vitalized Wine 2016 from the Balkan International Festival in Sofia; Gold Medals for the Rose Ballarina 2018 from the Frankfurt International Wine Trophy and the Rose Ballarina 2017 from the Vinaria Plovdiv.
Coincidence is a leading factor in many situations, but with Balar, coincidentally or not, they are the only winery in Bulgaria, and perhaps in the world, which uses such technology to mature their wines. Seeking advice on this bold initiative, they find wineries in France that use music in their vineyards or during the fermentation process. There is also a dairy farm in Switzerland that matures its cheese with music. There is no winery yet that plays music to its wines directly into the barrel in the time of maturation. Following the life path of the old Bulgarians, they reach their wisdom, or the story repeats itself – spontaneously, intuitively, and without coincidence.
It is no coincidence that the young Mariana Varbanova, the daughter of one of the co-founders of the Balar project, returned to Bulgaria in 2019. After spending seven years in Brussels as a European policy consultant, the family mission takes her back to her home country to become an ambassador for the unique wines produced in the village of Skalitsa. The magic of wine appeals to its followers. After her arrival on Bulgarian soil, Mariana devotes all her energy to the magic liquid. She becomes one of the co-owners of the winery, studies WSET Level 3, dreams of more wine adventures, and never stops trying exciting wines, spending time in the winery, and travel to new destinations. All this in less than a year in the country. Indeed, the future of the Balar project is in safe hands, and we can only expect pleasant wine surprises in the future.