History of wine in Bulgaria
Bulgaria is one of the oldest wine regions in the world with evidence of wine production since 4000 BC. Then the Bulgarian lands were inhabited by the Thracians - many tribes who worshiped the wine as a divine drink. Thracian wine is even mentioned in Homer's "Iliad" as the best wine in the familiar world.
It is believed that the first worldly documented name of the wine was established in present-day Bulgaria, when in the second century Emperor Antonius Piy declared the vineyards in Lower Mossia (now North Bulgaria) to be protected.
When settling on the Balkan Peninsula, Slavs and Proto-Bulgarians continue the traditions of the Thracian wine-making. In their time, the feast of Saint Trifon - the patron of the wineries and viticulture, and the related ritual practices of the Trifon Zarezan celebration began to be celebrated. Christianity imposes the death of the cult of Dionysus. Across Europe, wine-making also goes under the patronage of the church during the Middle Ages. The church in Bulgaria also becomes the owner of much of the vineyards in Bulgaria.
The period of Ottoman domination represents a major crisis for the production of wine. Islamic religion practically forbids it. However, Bulgarians continue to produce and drink wine, but production is limited to home use only and can not be developed. After the Liberation of Bulgaria, wine-making began its turbulent development. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards there is the disease on the vine - the phylloxera, which destroys much of the local plantations and some Bulgarian varieties even disappear. With advances in technology, the industry is gradually recovering, new, more resistant varieties are being planted, and land-use patterns are changing.
The tradition of wine production in Bulgaria continues to this day. The Bulgarian wine industry reached its peak in the 1970s, when Bulgaria was one of the world's largest exporters of wine and declined after the fall of communism in the 1990s. After the accession of Bulgaria to the EU in 2007 a number of small and medium boutique wineries appeared on the Bulgarian wine map. The quality of their work is recognized by the fact that Bulgarian wines are the most distinguished wines in Central and Eastern Europe. The same boutique wineries are also the driving forces behind the development of wine tourism in Bulgaria.
By 2015, Bulgaria ranks 10th in Europe in wine production with 1.75 million hectoliters.