Travel Guide to Danubian Plain Wine Region
The Danubian Plain is a Bulgarian wine region located in the hilly northern parts of the country. The vines of this wine region are planted on the steep valley slopes of the mountains, along the course of the meandering Danube River. Compared to other wine regions of Bulgaria, the Danubian Plains remain relatively underdeveloped. This means that the region is quiet in terms of tourism and tourist attractions but it is still certainly worth visiting. What the Danubian Plains lacks in terms of attractions it more than makes up for in terms of historical artifacts, ancient fortresses, and medieval castles.
Find out about Wine Tasting & Tours in Danubian Plain to enjoy if you visit the region.
Classic Dry Wines from the Plains of the Danube River
The Danubian Plains is a hilly wine region located in the north of Bulgaria.
Following the liberation of Bulgaria in 1878, the whole of Northern Bulgaria became part of the Principality of Bulgaria. The fertile soils of the Danubian Plains and its location on the banks of the Danube River meant that during this time it became a transportation hub and an important settlement for the people of the area. By the time the Middle Ages had arrived, this area had grown to become one of the major urban hubs of Bulgaria. In modern times, at the end of World War II, the north of Bulgaria and the Danubian Plains became the gateway to the Soviet partners.
Compared to the other wine regions of Bulgaria, the Danubian Plains is relatively underdeveloped in terms of tourism and travel infrastructure. This means that the region remains untouched and is particularly special to see.
The PGI zone of the Danubian Plains covers the central part of the region on the southern banks of the Danube River. From there is stretches to the Northern Black Sea Region. The area has been a PGI since as early as the second century and comprises of 50% white and 50% red wine.
The climate of the region is temperate continental with hot summers and many sunny days a year. The autumn months are dry, and the precipitation is an average of 450 – 650 mm per year. The soils of the Danubian Plains are made by forest vegetation and are fertile and dark. The terroir is loamy and granular with good permeability.
Red: Pamid, Gamza, Cabernet Sauvignon, Traminer, Merlot
White: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel, Vrachanski Misket
High Quality Wines from the Banks of the Danube River
The Danubian Plains wine region is home to the production of excellent quality dry white wines, sparkling wines and quality red wines that are known for their rich and fruity aromas and wonderfully fresh taste.
The winemakers of the Danubian Plains make sure that they cover all the bases in their viticulture practices in order to produce high quality and classy white and red wines.
The signature wine of the region is the deep purple and slightly spicy Gamza. The aroma of this wine is a mixture of black and red forest fruits, spics, plums, nuts and vanilla. The taste has soft tannins and is balanced and juicy with a fruity freshness. The rose wines of the Danubian Plains are characterised by red forest fruits and stone fruit. The taste of the wine has highlights of blackberries and ripe cherries.
Wineries to Visit in Danubian Plain Wine Region
Vinprom Rousse is one of the most modern wineries in Bulgaria, located in the country’s northern region. The winery was opened in 1948 as a state-owned enterprise. Today Vinprom Rousse is privately owned, producing over 40 million liters of wine a year. This winery is a must see to witness the unique marriage between traditional Bulgarian wine making techniques and the best in modern production.
The Yalovo Winery is a small boutique cellar that sits at the foot of the Balkan Mountains in Veliko Tarnovo. The aim of the winemakers at this winery is to produce wine with character that expresses the beauty of the region. The winery itself is housed in an enormous stone former school building and welcomes guests to taste the local wines in one of the beautiful former classrooms.
The Magura Winery is located in the village of Rabisha in the Vidin district in the north west of Bulgaria. This winery first opened its doors in 1967 and its location makes it one of the most picturesque wineries in Bulgaria. The wines of the Magura Winery are of the highest quality and have received numerous local and international prizes. The wine cellar is open on weekdays and weekends for tastings which are held inside the unique Magurata cave.
Where to Go when Visiting the Danubian Plain
Veliko Tarnovo – The City of the Tsars
Veliko Tarnovo is located in north central Bulgaria and is the administrative centre of the Veliko Tarnovo Province. This town is famous for being the historical capital of the second Bulgarian Empire. It attracts thousands of tourists thanks to its unique architecture. The old part of the town is the most beautiful as it is located on top of three hills that rise out of the meanders of the Yantra River. On one of the hills are the magnificent palaces of the Bulgarian emperors and the Patriarchal Cathedral. Other sites in Veliko Tarnovo that are fabulous to see include the Samovodskata Charshiya, the various renaissance and medieval churches and the ancient Roman fortress of Nicopolis ad Istrum.
Transfiguration Monastery – The Monastery of the Transfiguration
The Transfiguration Monastery or the Monastery of the Transfiguration is the biggest monastery in the location of Veliko Turnovo and the fourth largest monastery in Bulgaria. This monastery was founded in the 11th century and was built on its present site in 1825. The buildings of the monastery are built around a rectangular shaped court shaded by beautiful pergolas. The monastery is frequented by visitors particularly to see its incredible mural paintings that were painted from 1849 – 1851. The Monastery of the Transfiguration is open to visitors every day from 07:00 – 19:00.
Pleven Regional Historical Museum
The Pleven Regional Historical Museum was founded in 1953 and is one of the largest museums in Bulgaria. This museum is located in a double story edifice in the center of Pleven on 7000 square meters of land. It is home to over 180 000 artifacts and over 10 000 volumes of periodicals and scientific literature. The Pleven Regional Historical Museum has a permanent exhibition of 5000 items that are displayed across 24 halls and in the five departments of archaeology, ethnography, the Bulgarian National Revival and the Ottoman Rule of Bulgari, modern history and nature. For those interested in the cultural heritage of Bulgaria, this museum is a must see.
Explore the City of Rousse
The beautiful city of Rousse is located in the eastern part of the Danubian Plain in north-central Bulgaria. The city is perfectly situated on the mouth of the Roussenski Lom river. It is the largest city to be found on the Danube River and the fourth largest city in Bulgaria. When visiting and exploring Rousse, the attractions that should not be missed are the Regional History Museum, the Pantheon of National Revival Heroes, the Sexaginta Prista Fortress, the National Museum of Transport and the Holy Trinity Church.
The Natural Attractions of the Danubian Plain
The Danubian Plain is located north of the Balkan Mountains and south of the Danube River. To the west it is bordered by the Timok River and to its east the Black Sea, making it one of the most scenic and beautiful regions of Bulgaria. The nature lovers, the plain is a wonderland of hills, rivers and lush green meadows making it the perfect destination to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Danube River – Explore Europe’s Second Largest River
The Danube River is the second largest river in Europe. In Bulgaria, the Danube stretches almost all the way along the Romanian border. Much of the river path is off the main tourist path but is nevertheless still incredibly beautiful to explore. While travelling along the Bulgarian Danube there are plenty of cities, towns and villages to explore. To see the architectural relics of the Bulgarian empires, pay a visit to Vidin where you can also see the river from the castle towers. Along with the towns and villages along the river, there are also several Danube islands that are wonderfully wild and untouched. For those who like to escape the main tourist route, the path of the Danube in Bulgaria is the perfect place to escape the crowds and experience untouched Bulgaria.
Belogradchik Rocks – One of the Most Impressive Rock Formations in Europe
The Belogradchik Rocks are a rock formation in Bulgaria that were formed during the Permian period, approximately 230 million years ago. During this time, the tectonic movement of the region elevated the entire area of Belogradchik. This also caused large quantities of the haematitic pigment to accumulate, giving the rocks a unique rusty colour. The rock formations are divided into several different parts according to their location. One of the most significant parts is the red rock chain that beings with the ‘One Hundred Sheep’ formation nearby the village of Belotintsi. When visiting the Belogradchik Rocks one can also access the Belogradchik fortress, an impressive historical, cultural and architectural monument which stands at 610m above sea level. From the highest parts of the fortress there are the most spectacular views of the Balkan Mountain Range and the adjacent rock formations.
Magura Cave – The Rabisha Cave
The Magura Cave (also known as the Rabisha Cave) is situated in the north east of Bulgaria, 17km from the Belogradchik rocks and inside the limestone Rabisha burial mound. This cave is one of the largest and most beautiful caves in Europe. The cave system consists of a main gallery and three side branches and stretches for approximately 2500 meters in length. According to archaeologists, the cave began to take shape 15 million years ago. In one of the caverns there are prehistoric paintings carved into the walls that depict people hunting, animals, stars, tools and plants. The conditions inside the cave are used for the production of sparkling wines similar to Champagne. When visiting the cave be sure to visit the nearby Rabisha Lake which is the greatest inland lank in Bulgaria.
What to Eat When Visiting the Danubian Plain
The cuisine of the Danubian Plain is typically South Slavic with influences of other Balkan cuisines. The warm climate and diverse geography of the region make it excellent for the growth of fresh produce. The meals of the region are all famously paired with a delicious fresh salad and one of the top-class local wines. A wonderful experience for all food and wine lovers.
Pastarma Govezhda – Cured Meat of the Danubian Plain
Pastarma Govezhda is a Bulgarian dish favoured on the Danubian Plain, consisting of raw dried meat. The dish has been made in the region since the 19th century and since then the traditional recipe has remained unchanged. When making Pastarma Govezhda only the freshest beef is used and salted. No other spices are added so that the original flavour of the meat is retained. The most important part of the process when making Pastarma Govezhda is drying the meat in air-conditioned chambers where the humidity and temperature are constantly monitored to create the perfect conditions. After the drying process, the meat is pressed in wooden panelled presses to develop a dense texture. As a result of the pressing, the meat has a smooth surface and a flattened oblong shape. Pastarma Govezhda is best served sliced as a cold appetizer and paired with a crisp local wine.
Cherni Vit – Danubian Cheese
Cherni Vit is a cheese often eaten on the Danubian Plain and made with local sheep’s milk. This cheese cannot be bought in the supermarket as it is produced only in very small quantities in the village of Cherni Vit. During the months of May, June and July, the sheep are milked by hand two or three times a day. Following the milking, rennet is added to the milk and it is left to curdle for 2 hours. After this, the curd is cut and placed in a cloth lined wooden box, on top of which a wooden lid is placed and two big stones added for extra weight and pressure. Once the whey has been removed from the cheese it is cut, salted and layered in a lime tree wood barrel. The barrels are left in the mountains until late October when they are moved and stored in cellars. Eventually when the barrels are opened, green mold starts to form on the cheese. The flavour of this is nutty and sharp. This unique cheese cannot be experienced anywhere else and represents the true flavours of the Danubian Plain.
Torta Garash – The Best Chocolate Cake on the Danubian Plain
Torta Garash is a chocolate cake that is by far one of the most delicious and decadent desserts in Bulgaria. This chocolate delight is made up of five tiers of walnut sponge cake layered with dark chocolate. The entire cake is then covered in chocolate icing or ganache and decorated with desiccated coconut, walnuts, chocolate ornaments and sliced almonds. Torta Garash was invented in 1885 in the city of Rousse and is today one of the most famous desserts across all of Bulgaria. It can be found in any patisserie or restaurant in the country and is the perfect way to end any Bulgarian meal.
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