A drive through the Thracian Valley in Bulgaria, a region renowned for its wine grapes in ancient times
Bessa Valley is located near Plovdiv on a 300-ha hillside estate that had never previously been home to vines. The 140 ha planted since 2001 are overlooked by an impressive building, built in 2005. The partners behind the project are Stephan von Neipperg, owner of Bordeaux estates such as La Mondotte and Canon-la-Gaffeliere, and Dr Karl-Heinz Hauptmann from Germany. Von Neipperg chose concrete vats to vinify the reds. “No stainless steel” he says, but he ages it in 1,500 barrels.
The business began in 2003 with limited volumes of just 40,000 bottles. Now there are ten times those numbers, with 80% going to export markets, led by Japan. Most of the workers come from the neighboring village, Ognyanovo. The volume of the first wine, the 2003, was 40,000 bottles. Today, 80% of the 400,000 bottles are sold to Japan, China, Hong Kong, Switzerland, USA, Canada, the UK, and Belgium. Russia, notably, is not on the list. Prices range from 2, 85 euro for a Merlot blend selling ex-cellars, to the 16, 00 euro Grande Cuvee.