According to a report from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) about 120 grape varieties are grown in Bulgaria. Of course, some are local grape varieties, others are international ones and still others are hybrids. In this article we will introduce the most famous and widespread hybrid Bulgarian grape varieties in the country.

Rubin - hybrid Bulgarian grape variety


Rubin is a hybrid between the grape varieties nebbiolo and syrah and was created in 1944 in the Institute of Viticulture and Oenology in Pleven. However, it was not until the end of 1950s that this grape variety became more popular and was cultivated on a wider scale mainly in the Plovdiv area and later throughout the country.

Grape characteristics

The Rubin bunch is medium in size, conical and semi-compact to compact. The grape is small, spherical, bluish-black with thin skin. The Rubin grape ripens around September and it is relatively not resistant to low temperatures. The accurate timing of the Rubin grapes’ harvest is of utter importance as the grapes quickly accumulate sugars, but at the same time lose acidity relatively fast as well. Rubin grapes develop well on hilly terrains with deep soils.


As the name suggests, wines from Rubin have a deep ruby colour and typical aroma of berries. The wines can be consumed both young and matured. When Rubin wines mature, their tannins smoothen out, the flavour improves, while freshness is preserved. Rubin wines have gained considerable popularity on the Bulgarian market and are close contestants to becoming the preferred local variety, even more so than Mavrud. Perhaps this spurred some wineries to produce blends of Mavrud and Rubin and in that way bring the battle for local supremacy to a tie. These blends bring the best out of the two local grape varieties and are indeed an interesting experience for the palette of every wine enthusiast.

Ranna Melnishka Loza [Early Melnik]

Ranna Melnishka Loza also known as Melnik 55 is a hybrid between the local grape variety Shiroka Melnishka Loza and mixed pollen of the French varieties Durif, Jurançon, Valdiguié and Cabernet Sauvignon. Melnik 55 was created in 1963 by a team of oenologists. Their goal was to create a grape variety that ripens earlier than the local Shiroka Melnishka Loza, which ripens in the beginning of October, but at the same time preserves the unique characteristics of the Melnik variety.

Grape characteristics

The bunch of Ranna Melnishka Loza is medium in size, cylindrical-conical, winged, semi-compact to compact. The grapes are medium in size, oval and juicy. The skin is thick, dark blue and covered with small spots. Ranna Melnishka Loza ripens earlier than Shiroka Melnishka Loza – around September 20-25. Ranna Melnishka Loza is relatively resistant to low winter temperatures and grey mould. This hybrid grape variety thrives best on lighter, warmer and sandy soils. It is mainly cultivated in the areas around Melnik and Sandanski.

Ranna Melnishka Loza - Bulgarian hybrid grape variety


The wines from Ranna Melnishka Loza have deep ruby colour and rich complex aromas of leather and dried fruits. The flavour is characterized by typical fruity freshness combined with more spicy nuances in the aftertaste. Wines from Ranna Melnishka Loza mature nicely and acquire flavours of leather, cherry, chocolate, vanilla. Interestingly, Ranna Melnishka Loza was not immediately embraced by Bulgarian oenologists and the different hybrids selected from Shiroka Melnishka Loza were merely branded as Melnik wines. However, Ranna Melnishka Loza is easier to cultivate than Shiroka Melnishka Loza and demonstrates significant potential for the production of excellent wines both as a single variety and in blends. This was confirmed after Ranna Melnishla Loza received some international awards which prompted the Bulgarian Vine and Wine Chamber to finally list this hybrid variety as a variety on its own in 2006.

A broad selection of grape varieties are cultivated in Bulgaria. Alongside the popular international varieties, Bulgarian wine-makers utilize the potential of the local grape varieties, as well as improve on them by experimenting with hybrids. In recent years, increased attention has been paid to local grape varieties. Hopefully, that trend will continue and more less-known local varieties such as kokorkokeratzuda and others could also become more prominent. Vines have been grown on Bulgarian soils for millennia so, Bulgaria has definitely something to show to the world when it comes to wine. And the best way to stand out from the rest is to exploit the uniqueness of the local grape varieties.