One of the exciting masterclasses of Divino this year was the meeting with the young Bulgarian winemakers. Many stories have been told about how these people, who have committed themselves to one of the world’s oldest professions, face the reality of the Bulgarian wine industry and how they adapt and study, travel and follow world trends.
The masterclass was led by Georgi and Vladi Vankov, that are behind the project “All for the wine” – a wine shop in Varna. The main topic for discussion was the attitude towards the young wineries for traveling to other winemaking countries and specializations in international wineries. The work of a season contract in Bulgaria and the difference in seasons in different hemispheres in continents such as Australia and South America in practice allow two wine campaigns to be completed within one year, and according to the leading class for the more motivated and up to 3-4 even. Moreover, if the first thought of man is about the financial part of these expeditions or how well these people will be paid for their tireless work, according to the stories in the hall, the most valuable gift for the adventurers remains the traveling experience. Also the meeting with new cultures, the adoption of new winemaking technologies, exploration of remote wine regions and their climatic features.
According to Georgi and Vladi, staying in Australia and New Zealand is most profitable, because, with the money saved from the season spent there, young enthusiasts can then travel to Chile and Argentina where, in their words, the situation at the state level is not very much different from the one in Bulgaria. Alternatively, in other words: lower pay, unclear legal frameworks or completely missing ones, and if this may sound unattractive, then it is an excellent opportunity for easier entry into the country and adaptation to local culture. The most improbable are the results of these practices. According to the storytellers, if a night-shift night shift technologist is caught sleeping during the Australian and New Zealand work, he will inevitably be fired the next day. At the same time, a few hours’ sleep during the night shift in Chile and Argentina is in most cases quite reasonable, but despite the quality of the wines produced, it is quite high.
Here comes the question of where does Bulgaria stand in this puzzle? The answer: somewhere in the middle. The work of the young Bulgarian wineries is highly appreciated not only because of the long 15-hour shifts they are forced to give when grapes are taken in the winery but also because of their motivation for good results, strictness and excellent organization of the activity.
However, on their soil here in Bulgaria, they are forced to struggle sometimes with the opinion of wine owners for an earlier than the actual date for grape harvest in the name of preventing theft of fruit on the vineyards. A traditional problem is also the quantity/quality ratio. If winemakers are looking for a higher amount for a higher profit margin, young winemakers are looking for lower yields and grape selections in the name of producing smaller quantities but better quality wines. Still, the young Bulgarian hopes recognize that the model of boutique wineries producing a limited range of wines from 2000-5000 bottles is a huge challenge when it comes to exports due to the demanded minimum volumes of importers of 20,000+ bottles. Then what are the prospects for the Bulgarian boutique wine – breakthrough of limited series of high-end wines in high-class restaurants that do not need high volumes? That is already happening in Michelin restaurants in England, Belgium, Hong Kong, the United States.
The meeting with the young wine-makers was attended mainly by technologists or students that will be future technologists, but other people could be noticed. At the very end of the session, that question was asked: “After so much time spent in wineries abroad and endless opportunities to stay and work there at more favorable personal conditions, what is the return of the young wineries back to Bulgaria? “The answer was that the reasons are many an individual. Some of the technologists are part of families that have small wineries and come back with experience and vision to flow into the family business. Others do not like living in other countries and follow the popular English thought: “From the east to the west, home is the best.” However, in general, what brings back the young winemakers to Bulgaria is that they are keen to help the Bulgarian wine to return to the international stage, taking into account the vast potential and opportunities that will reveal to our country in the coming years. In the hands of these brave and irreconcilable people, the Bulgarian wine industry is in safe hands. These young hopes are the factor that will tilt the scales towards the production of quality and exciting wines that will present Bulgaria’s new face to the world.