EXCELLENT day out with Ivaylo and Via Vino

I fit in a long weekend trip to Sofia, Bulgaria while I had some downtime from work. I knew that there must be some great Bulgarian wine to be found and spent some time google’ing different options for wine tours. I found Ivaylo’s website and emailed him to see if he could put together something for me. He responded quite quickly and suggested two options:

- visit two distinguished wineries during our wine trip (in the Rose Valley or in the Thracian Lowland wine region) and taste medium/premium class wines;
-combine 1 winery visit with city tour in Plovdiv OR visit to the Rila Monastery (UNESCO heritage) OR the picturesque town of Koprivshtitsa);

I chose the 1 winery visit with a tour and lunch with Plovdiv and it was lovely.

Ivaylo picked me up at my hotel and we made the drive out to Villa Justina. I think the ride was about two hours, but it passed quickly as Ivaylo told me more about Bulgarian wine, his background in wine and Bulgaria itself. Ivaylo is a great conversationalist which made the time fly by.

At Villa Justina, Ivaylo and the woman from the winery took me out to the picturesque fields. It was a gorgeous day out and standing in the middle of all the vines was beautifully peaceful and relaxing. We then returned to the winery where they gave me a tour of the state-of-the-art facilities and then did a wine tasting. I tasted a number of excellent wines and bought a bottle to take back with me. We also enjoyed a plate of Bulgarian cheeses.

Then we drove to Plovdiv — a fairly short drive — and wandered around the old town. The mix of old and new was quite interesting. (Note, bring sturdy shoes for the older part of town as the roads are uneven cobblestone.) We stopped for a lovely lunch on an outdoor terrace and talked more about wine before beginning the journey back to Sofia.

I really enjoyed my day out with Ivaylo. If you’re looking to learn more about wine and see parts of Bulgaria you can’t easily do on your own, I highly recommend Ivaylo and Via Vino.

Krista N., USA (visited May 2016)