The New Home of Organic Wine

Hello, hellooo! :)

We are now blogging from a place in Bulgaria where figs, almonds, lemons, kiwi, pomegranates, olives and grapes grow without much effort and with enviable carelessness. If you need specifics, we’ll tell you that this place is called Orbelus and it’s the first Bulgarian certified organic wine producer.

In addition to this healthy innovation on our own soil, we'll talk about the winery's strategy as a manufacturer of organic wines, their new facility and wine tourism opportunities that Orbelus have in mind for their visitors.

Organic Wine

This is not the first time we are delving into the topic of organic and biodynamic wines. It is important to remember that organic wine is made from vines with limited yield while avoiding the use of fertiltizers, pesticides and herbicides (a requirement which proves relatively easy thanks to the terroir on which Orbelus's vineyards are located) within the limits set by the EU and monitored by the relevant certification authorities (Balkan Biocert in this particular case).

When the grapes arrive at the winery, the basic requirements for the production of organic wine are associated with sulfite content, i.e. their levels should be considerably lower in comparison to non-organic wines. The certification process takes three to five years, the time needed to ensure the quality of soils, crops and a million other factors that are monitored constantly by the certification bodies with annual audits.

We first became acquainted with organic winemaking in Italy, during our visit to Avignonesi, the largest producer of organic wines in the country when we realized that the notion that organic wine is something with suspicious color and flavor qualities is a myth.

We are really interesting to see whether organic wine producers profess thier environmentally friendly philosophy in all other activities. So far it seems that Orbelus have done just that starting from the architecture of their new cellar ...

Orbelus’s New Home

On May 31, 2014 the new Orbelus newwinery opened its doors to visitors at a brief ceremony, where we caught up with their team.

Orbelus's technologist Kiril Miladinov showed us how the winery prepare for the upcoming harvest.

The winery produces its own wines from 2009, but until now the vinification was carried out in Damianitsa. Vintage 2014, however, will be vinified in the new winery.

It is equipped with ten 500-liter rotating French oak barrels and another eighty 225-liter barrels (French oak). 2012 was the first year when Orbelus won the right to label its production as 'organic' .

No more numbers after this, I promise: the total capacity of the winery is 130,000 bottles a year, but their purpose is to reach 70,000 to 80,000 bottles. Currently, Orbelus produce about 45,000 bottles. The vineyards stretch over 25 hectares; 5 them with newly planted varieties, which are still in the process of certification. The first vines were planted in 2006.

Besides the main French varieties, Orbelus also grow Bulgarian Rubin, and the typical local Sandanski Misket and Melnik 55.

We were pleasantly surprised by their in Assyrtiko, an interesting Greek variety and tribute to the region and the winery’s propensity for experimentation.

Wine Tourism

Follow the signs :), they do exist! The winery is located in the village of Kromidovo (GPS: 41.444402, 23.362628), not far from the town of Melnik.

The winery plans the construction of a better infrastructure and a hotel, where visitors can enjoy both the view and the wine.

With or without a panoramic option, the seven mountains that surround the winery are impossible to capture on camera. You have to see them in person. We hereby allow you give your best patriotic sigh.

Currently, the winery is open for visitors but do give them a call first. You can enjoy a wine tour and learn more about organic wine, the terroir and Orbelus's wines, naturally. We tried a superb rosé Orbelus Paril and Orbelus Melnik,

but we were not able to taste their entire portfolio: something we must address in the future.

Mr. Blagoy Rusev, manager of the winery talked to us about the achievements of the winery and their awards from the specialized international organic wine exhibition Millesime Bio in Montpellier, France. A significant part of Orbelus's production is exported mainly to markets that are acquainted and demand organic wines.

Most of Orbelus’s wines are blends, such as the Orelek, Prima and Getika series. You can find these in the specialized wine stores or purchase them online from the winery’s website.

Dafina Atanasova, a member of the team in charge of the winery, told us that from the very beginning the idea and philosophy of Orbelus included the production of organic wine and the construction of a winery in harmony with the terroir. Their strategy is to grow slowly and steadily on the basis of consolidated markets, overcoming obstacles on their way that all new and small wine producers tend to face. On the positive side, the winery notices improved market conditions and demand for organic wines both in and outside Bulgaria.

We also recognize this improvement in the Bulgarian wine climate. We wish Orbelus a successful year and full of positive emotions we get ready for the upcoming week with a decent human organic enthusiasm.