Vidin Province is the northwesternmost province of Bulgaria. A part of the Danubian Plain wine region, it extends over five officially recognized Bulgarian wine regions. It is also known as Danube Valley wine region.
The region has an excellent microclimate and specific soil (terroir) thanks to the red, sandy limestone rocks around Belogradchik and long, hot summers with very sunny days. The region has always played an important part in Bulgarian winemaking – one of the oldest wine schools opened in Vidin, the administrative centre of the province, in 1887.
When visiting Vidin and its attractions – the outstanding Baba Vida Fortress, Stambol Gate or the place of tolerance where the Orthodox Cathedral and the Mosque are – have a walk in Vidin’s panoramic park by the Danube and look for the building where the school used to be. The school was shut down in the 1990s as a result of the decline of Bulgarian wine industry – quite a surprising end considering that only in the 1980s Bulgaria was the second biggest producer of wine in the world. Today, the seven remaining winemakers in Vidin Province are looking for new ways to produce wine and focusing on growing high-quality grapes. The conditions are best suited for growing red grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir or the native Bulgarian Pamid or Gamza, and white grapes such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Aligoté and the traditional Tamyanka or Misket, perfect for dry white and sparkling wines.
If you like white wine, visit Magura Winery & Cave, situated next to Rabisha village and lake of (the biggest Bulgarian freshwater reservoir and a natural beauty in itself). The fifteen-million-year old Magura Cave is the largest one in the country. It contains striking Neolithic and early Bronze Age cave paintings made with bat guano, probably around 1200 BC. They were restored in 2007-2011. The Magura Bat Gallery is where selected wines are aged at the constant temperature of 12°С and appropriate humidity.
Taste the famous Bulgarian dry sparkling wine Magura or Rendezvous 2006 Cuvée du Nord, whose 2003 vintage became the first Bulgarian wine that was awarded the prestigious Silver Medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Don’t forget to ask for grape brandies Vrachanska Temenuga and Magurska. Oenologist Dr Ognyan Tzetanov, the man behind the sparkling wine, and winemaker Adriana Srebrinova are independent wine consultants here. They will show you around Magura and Borovitza Winery, and introduce you to the sparkling Premiere Cuvée Ognyan Tzvetanov White Brut, Cuvée Adriana Srebrinova (white or rosé) of the Les Amis Collection or tempt you with the red wines Borovitza Gamza and LUX. Check out the wines of Chateau Burgozone, Novoselska gamza, or the newcomer Chateau de Val Winery. Chateau de Val was established in 1998 by Val Markoff with the intention to revive the winemaking tradition in the region and to bring back the long forgotten, unique wines. The winery takes pride in its own Claret wine but it also produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc. They make special wine blends mixing as many as twelve grape varieties, according to traditional recipes and methods, fermented and aged in American, French and local Vidin oak barrels. These wines have won numerous awards worldwide. While you are in the area, don’t miss the Vragansky Balkan Nature Park, where you can go for a hike or a bike ride. True wine enthusiasts should not miss the Belogradchik folk festival From Timok to Iskar – In the Footsteps of the Thracians (3 days, September). An impressive procession from Kaleto Fort to Panairishte includes the antique Thracian welcome ritual Vaztliane, wine tastings, orphic dances and a tribute to the mystic goddess Bendida. Take a five-day wine tour from Sofia to Vidin Province and Dolj County (southwestern Romania), stopping at Magura Cave, Belogradchik, Vidin and Calafat, and Craiova in Romania (tel. +359 2 9515259).