If you can judge a country by its wine, the best place to find an extensive selection of “reference points” for Bulgaria is Vino Orenda. This wine shop offers Bulgarian wine exclusively with a portfolio of more than 55 wineries and 350 wines (really impressive for the scale of wine production in the country). Vino Orenda is situated in downtown Sofia at 50A Makedonia Blvd. (close to Ruski Pametnik for those of you who know a bit about the capital’s landmarks).

The wine shop is the place to taste and learn more about Bulgarian wine with the polite and duly assistance of an experienced consultant. You can also find a lot of useful written information on wine tourism in Bulgarian and catalogues of Bulgarian wines, or you can simply indulge in a conversation with the owner on what is worth seeing and/or drinking in the country. Finally, if you are looking for gifts for friends or you want to take back a liquid piece of Bulgaria with you, this is the place to find a great variety.

Recently, Vino Orenda proved its resilience to the economic crisis and the market challenges, celebrating its first birthday. We took the chance to talk to Asen Tsekov, the owner of the shop, and introduce you to the Orenda philosophy and vision on this special day (September 17th, also the official day commemorating the city of Sofia).

Vino Orenda is turning 1. What is the mood 365 days later?

Our mood is still the same as it was a year ago: enthusiastic, “thirsty” for new and exciting wine adventures but we also feel we’ve gained experience; now we have something real to compare to.

Over the past year, what did you learn about the wine industry?

We uncovered all of its secrets… I am kidding, of course. The word “industry” invokes the thought of a factory with some very tall chimneys. Over the last year, our interest was mostly directed towards relatively young wineries, most of which are family-owned. Some of the wineries we work with offer very small and limited series. These wineries put a lot of enthusiasm, devotion and love in what they do, something that defines our shop to a large extent as well.

What new can wine lovers find in Vino Orenda?

Well, mostly wine. We stared out with about 150 wines from 25 wineries and currently we are representing 55 wineries and over 350 different wines, plus we plan on increasing these numbers. We keep on offering thematic wine tastings each week and we want to start introducing our customers to even more small producers of typical Bulgarian organic food products such as white cheese, yellow cheese, meat delicacies, etc. We have many more surprises for you which we are keeping a secret for now …

Tell us a fun story with a customer from the past year?

Oh, it is always fun when you work face-to-face with different people. We are happy that some of our clients simply stop by the shop to talk about Bulgarian wine and others come in asking “Good afternoon, we are having trout for dinner…?”. We also take pride in the fact that many wines bought from the shop often travel around the world; perhaps we should make a map of the destinations. Some of our clients told us that they were taking the wine to “wine” countries like Italy, France, South Africa, but also Poland, Norway… Dubai.

What are the difficulties of selling Bulgarian wine?

The usual challenges there are to selling any other product in the current economic environment… Unfortunately, despite the increasing interest of consumers towards Bulgarian wine, many of them cannot afford to buy quality wines very often. That is why we aspire to offer wines with good price-to-quality ratio. In most cases, by clearly communicating the shop’s concept of offering only quality Bulgarian wines, we come across understanding and enthusiasm along the supply and demand sides of the chain. Therefore, we believe that we will have the desired results sooner or later.

Make a wish for the year to come?

I want more people to be able to afford and enjoy good Bulgarian wines with friends. Clearly, we wish that they trust us with their choice!

Cheers and drink responsibly!

Additional information about the wine shop is available on their website. If you are into social interaction do like them on facebook to follow their wine adventures.