The Town of Melnik
Melnik is Bulgaria’s ancient winemaking center, where wine cellars are dug straight into the sandstones cliffs surrounding the town. Melnik is renowned for its dramatic landscape, its warm dry weather and its native varietal, Shiroka Melnishka Loza, which is grown nowhere else in the world. Its houses sit atop stone walls that once protected this rebel town’s wine stores. The Greek border is just 13 kilometers (8 miles) to the South, and Thessaloniki is a two hour drive away.
Melnik is a town of fewer than 400 residents. The villages perched on the hillsides surrounding it are smaller still. Yet the region attracts 400 000 visitors each year. Most come for the locally made wine, which has an ancient foresty taste and is found only in the towns and villages here. Winston Churchill ordered his wine from Melnik before the iron curtain cut the region’s wines off from the West.
Bulgaria’s history lives in the hills around the Melnik, with the Rojen Monastery a short walk through the sandstone pyramids above the town, and the remains of medieval fortresses and churches interspersed with its vineyards and forests.
The area around Melnik is also home to Bulgaria’s most beloved hot mineral springs, which bubble from the ground at 33°C (91°F) in Sandanski, and a bracing 78°C (172°F) in nearby Rupite, where the Bulgarian blind mystic Baba Vanga prophesied.
The sun, the warmth, and the sandstone, combined with very little rain all make the land here ideal for the late ripening grapes that grow in its vineyards. The roads are dirt, donkeys roam the fields, and grape growers still draw their living out of the ground by hand. We invite you to visit us and draw your inspiration from the bright days here, as we do.