The smallest town in Bulgaria (208 residents), Melnik, is nested in the south slopes of Pirin, among sand pyramids with queer forms. The finds from the antiquity discovered upon the archaeological diggings testify for its centuries-old history. The first written pieces of evidence for the Melnik Fortress refer to the beginning of the 11th century. The first settlers on the territory of contemporary Melnik were the Thracians, and more particularly the Thracian tribe Maedi, of which the legendary rebel Spartacus originated. A few centuries later, the Romans lived on this ground. This proves the ancient Roman bridge, which is still preserved in the town of Melnik. The Slavs, who were consequently residing on this territory, had called their settlement Melnik, because of the surrounding sand pyramids. The name comes from the Slavonic word “Mel”, which means white clay, crayon.
In 1215 Melnik turned into a capital of an independent feudal principality, ruled by Despot Alexius Slav. The ruins of his fortress are preserved to the present days, near the town.
Wine production has been a tradition in the Melnik region for centuries, so it is not surprising that there are dozens of wineries around. Due to the dry, sandy soils in the area, the vines are among the very few crops that can be successfully grown there. In addition, the warm climate and hot summer (this is the warmest part of Bulgaria) provide excellent conditions for growing beautiful grapes. Thus, after hundreds of sunny hours in the summer, winemakers are happy to harvest well-ripened grapes – the ideal basis for a rich and tasty wine.
Our professional guide has a lot to share with you about the historical journey of wine and the ancient heritage of the city.