After last nights late arrival and late dinner with just a tad of some tasting involved, we decided to sleep in until the manager of the EM Winery, Elenovo, Alberto, arrived. And arrive he did and promptly strode out showing us the incredible design that had been used for the Winery. The production site is completely underground and producing nearly 1 million bottles of good quality wine every year, not only being sold in Bulgaria but also exports to Germany, UK, Spain, Italy and also the US.
The winery was built in 2002. The vines are spread over 220 hectares of land. The different classes of wine are segmented for the markets – Sant Ilia, Edoardo Miroglio and Elenovo. They also produce the Bulgarian brandy called Rakia and the yummy green walnuts liqueur from a secretly kept family recipe. There is a 10 bedroom hotel, a restaurant with seating for 80 guests, and a swimming pool.
We started with an Edoardo Miroglio BRUT which is a sparkling wine that had an sublime taste. Then, we moved on to three organic wines – Viognier & Traminer, Mavrud & Rubin, Bouquet & Mavrud. So many medals and certificates from competitions, there is just no place for them all in the winery’s tasting room.
After our tasting, we went to Sliven, the nearby regional city with a population of about 100 thousand people. The city of Sliven is called – “the city of the 100 chieftains”. These chieftains were actually responsible for the initial uprising and consequent overthrowing of the 500 year occupancy of the Ottoman’s.
A fascinating city center greeted us with both modern and old buildings with lots of monuments, nice pedestrian zones, and gardens. Sliven boasts the Old Elm, a tree over a thousand years old, which was used during the Ottoman Rule to hang Freedom Fighters from. It was also voted The European Tree of the year in 2014.
With lots of museums and houses from centuries past, Hristo decided that we visit a few. We started off with the National Textile Museum. The first textile factory on the Balkan Peninsula was established in Sliven in 1843. Nowadays, it’s a stunning textile museum with working machines from the time.
Then we moved too a typical house from the 19th century, representing the Bulgarian customs and the lifestyle of the richer people of the time. Good to see and to get to know their national costumes from first hand experience. Yes, I started liking the place more and more! We quickly passed through the Regional Museum to see the oldest gold Thracian mask in Bulgaria in its authentic form behind bullet-proof windows. I now understand that the Thracians were quite skillful in detail and a lot of the artifacts that we have seen on our journey just proves that without any doubt.
As it was already 2:30, we grabbed some sandwiches and continued our trip to the Blue Stones Nature Park. I was fascinated by the open-top chair lift to the top which shows you the beauties of the nature park from a bird’s-eye perspective.
After drinking in the majestic vista, we were invited to take an alternative way down; not with the lift, but with a mountain bike.
We returned to our hotel, in the heart of Sliven, for a quick shower and a farewell dinner. The food was of the highest standard with pork, chicken, fish, and seafood served with Soli Invicto and Elenovo wines and polished off with Italian tiramisu and green walnut liqueur.
It was the best day of the trip with history, culture, adventure, natural beauty, and adventure. I’d love to return to Blue Stones Nature Park and spend a few days soaking up the beauty.