Hello! How are you? Can you please introduce yourself for those who don’t know you?
Hello! My name is Stoyan Gerov. I was born on 19th April 1972 in Preslav, Bulgaria. I’m married and I have 2 daughters. I graduated “Wine and beverages” at the University of food technologies in 1996. After my graduation I worked in Vinex Preslav winery, Karnobat Winery but I spent more time in the National Institute for research of wine and spirits. Meanwhile I worked two harvests in California and one in Australia. The thing that was inspiring me the most and to which I devoted myself with all my heart was the establishment of the “Home of Bulgarian wine”.
Where did you make your first steps in winemaking and what inspired you to get involved with wine?
I was born is Preslav, famous wine region in Bulgaria and somehow I turned to this profession naturally. We have always had own vineyards, my grandfather used to make homemade wine in his cellar. My grand grandfather was a barrel maker. A wine spirit was hovering around the house. There wasn’t a specific reason to become winemaker. That’s just how things turned out. My first job was in Vinex Preslav. Great specialists ware working there at that time. The director was Stafan Pirev, person that I consider as my wine teacher. Vanyo Nikolov was my direct boss. I learned a lot from them. Members of the team were also Dancho Dimitrov, Anelia Hristakiewa, Daniel Nedyalkov and Natalia Kurkchieva. They received me in their team and made me feel like home. My colleagues were a real catalyst for me, right at the beginning of my career. Without going into my entire wine history, I want to mention another amazing person and colleague who has had a significant impact on my career. He is prof. Kiril Fartsov. Only good words should be said about him will all my respect.
Where do you currently make wine and since when ? Tell us more about the winery you working for and about the wines you make. Do you have some difficulties with the restrictions connected to COVID-19?
I arrived in Mosel Germany in 14th February. This is how the second half-time of my live has started from “zero”. I started as a work cellar with a minimum knowledge of the German language. There were some Russians and thanks to our conversation in Russian with one of my colleagues who was also speaking good English I have started to learn German and the winemaking profession from the lowest level. I was feeling very well. My colleagues and my bosses were very attentive and kind to me. I was so far from the real winemaking but I was satisfied. We were receiving sparkling wines from different varieties and from different wine countries – Argentina, Chile, California, Australia, New Zealand and Europe as well. Our job was to treat the wines and to bottle them. I was thinking that I would retire at that winery. But I was missing the CO2 and the smell of fermentation. With my new 20 words in German I started to look for a job in other wineries. I started to work in Luxembourg at the biggest private wine cellar in that small country. In fact there is a bigger one but it is a cooperative. There I met for a first time the sparkling wines “méthode champenoise” – CO2 and fermentation all year round. We were making sparkling wines with classic champanisation, method Charmat and sometimes wines saturated with CO2 wines. Once again I was thinking that I would retire at that winery. Kind colleagues, high standard, good salary, well –kept country and a winery located in the coast of the romantic Mosel. But suddenly the words of my school teacher came to my mind. He is a person that I respect a lot and who I’m in contact with. His name is Ivan Hristoforov and now he is the director of SOS Children’s Village in Tryavna. Once he told me “I keep my fingers crossed to your success! “.
I was thinking that I was already successful- I had family, wonderful wife and kids, friends, I was working in successful winery, I was living in well-kept and calm country, I was gaining money… what else should I want. Then I decided that I needed to develop. This is how I arrived in Germany, Pfalz. I have started again to work with sparkling wines “method champenoise”, but this time I was the winemaker. We make sparkling wines for other wineries. They give us their wine and we make the champanisation , the secondary fermentation in the bottles and after an year, 2 or 3 we make the disgorgement. My responsibilities now are higher. I do all processes from A to Z- from a driver of electric truck to a leader of wine tastings. I’m involved in the whole process including lab analyzes. I think that this could be my last job but who knows. My grandma used to say that I cannot stay long in one place J
Where do you think winemaking is more challenging and is there a difference in practicing the profession of winemaker in Bulgaria and the country you currently work?
I can summarize that the winemaking processes are the same everywhere. But winemaking is not only barrels, fermenters and yeasts. The think that makes difference is the terroir. If in California the wines are sunny and it’s not difficult the grapes to mature well and to give 16 % vol of alcohol, in Germany is not easy. The vinegrowers in Mosel work in inhuman conditions- Rocky and gravelly soils, steep slopes, heavy rainfall, low temperatures, little sun but as a final-unique wines.The weather In Pfalz is more sunny and warm, the soils are mainly sandy and the wines are so different – whites, reds (even Cab Sauvignon and Syrah), sparkling. There is a difference in Education system here- the education lessons and the practice go hand by hand.
Where is the Bulgarian wine in your life and what memories have you sealed?
Unfortunately I lost my connection with the Bulgarian winemaking. I try to spend more time with my family when in Bulgaria. I hope I’ll have more time to visit some favorite wineries like Villa Yustina and to try their wine series Monogram and 4 seasons. Other wineries I would love to visit are Rumelia Panaguyrishte and their Mavrud, Asenovgrad and the region around, Chateau Copsa and their interesting Misket, as well as the wineries in Black Sea coast where friends of mine work as winemakers. I’m curious about the sparkling wines of Eduardo Miroglio. I remember their wonderful bio wines. I would love to understand the development of Raynov wines, which I find fascinating. I’m wondering how would I find a German grape variety as Dornfelder produced from Bulgarian winery like Saedinenie , which impressed me with its intensive color and fruity flavors. I miss the rare varieties for Bulgaria Chenin Blanc, Carménère and Malbec of LVK Targovishte. Yes, there are a lot of wineries, wines and colleagues who I want to meet soon.
Are you aware of what is happening in the Bulgarian wine industry nowadays and how do you do that?
To be honest I’m not informed. I only follow the social media posts of my colleagues.
If you want to present the modern Bulgarian wine to your friends and colleagues how would you describe it and which varieties would you choose?
I present Bulgaria as a sunny and warm country, suitable for great red grape varieties but there are great whites as well. I love Chardonnay and in my last time in Bulgaria I bought a Bulgarian Chardonnay for my bosses. It grows well in Bulgaria and this variety show well its character. I explain to them that more vineyards and fascinating wineries were created thanks to European programs the last few years. We talk about the large grape variety list, the quality of our oak and the quality oak barrels we produce.
Is it easy to find Bulgarian wines in the country you currently live and work?
I have never seen Bulgarian wine in Germany.
Does the winery you work at welcome wine tourists? If so, what is the rate of sales you do through wine tourism?
The winery that I work in doesn’t welcome tourists, but the wine cellar which sparkling wines we produce sell their wines to tourists. The consumption of sparkling wine in Germany is bigger than in Bulgaria. The small wine cellars sell their wines mainly to restaurants and tourists. These are in general family wineries. There are from 10 to 15 wine cellars in each village in the wine regions as Mosel, Pfalz, Weinstraße. The winery in Luxembourg was 100 years old and was very attractive. They were receiving thousands of wine tourists from April to November. Sometimes the tourists were 300 people per day. However the sales were nothing compared to the quantity of the wines they produce. We bottled 30 000 bottles per day.
What advice would you give and what would you wish to your Bulgarian colleagues?
I’m not a wise man and cannot advice them. Enjoy what you are doing. If you go to work with a desire, than you don’t need my advice.
If we missed to ask about something that you want to share with us, please do it?
I would be happy to read about colleagues working around the world but it would be interesting for me to read about colleagues working in Bulgaria as well.