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Vino Orenda Here you’ll find only quality Bulgarian wine and every bottle is personally selected by Assen and Valya

Vino Orenda

50A Makedonia Blvd., Sofia
+359 889 623 606
10:30 - 20:00 (Mon - Fri);
11:30–20:00 (Sat)
  • Kind: Shop
  • Multi Kulti Recommended
  • Cards Accepted

Tags: bulgarian shop, bulgarian wine, vino orenda

“Every empty bottle is a story that has been told”, say Assen and Valya Tsekovi, owners of the only shop for Bulgarian wine in the world. At the moment they are working with about 60 wineries – some of them are known to the general public, but most of them are small, family, boutique, craft wineries. They have personally visited almost all of them to ensure they offer only the best to their customers.

(scroll down for the interview)

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How did you come up with the idea to open a shop for quality local wine?
The idea of the shop is mostly mine. My love for wine dates from about 10 years ago. We travel often and on every travel we gather information about wines in different countries and regions, and we also bring bottles. We also sparked interest in our friends who also make us gifts from their travels abroad. As time went by we made a nice collection that we and they enjoyed. Sparking the interest of the people around us gave me some confidence, and we went on to open our own shop.
Valya: 6-8 months before we opened the store, we started preparing and then we were really surprised that there’s a great selection of Bulgarian wineries and wines. We decided to offer only Bulgarian wine, because we were convinced that there is lot to offer, and people are not aware how many interesting things are offered on our market.

When did the shop open?
We opened it on September 17, 2012 – the Day of Sofia or Faith, Hope and Love. The date chose us.

How do you select the wines that you present?
Our concept is that we offer wines from large wineries that are familiar to the general public, but emphasize on small family, boutique, craft wineries. Each bottle has passed through us, through our personal selection, we have tasted it, we know where it comes from. What matters to us is not only the actual wine itself – as a value, vision and product, but the whole process and the people behind it, what is their idea for the creation of wine culture itself. Nowadays many wineries work with environmentally friendly practices for certified organic production and naturally, doing this in Bulgaria, creates a product with a very high value that we want to be familiar with, not just a bottle and a label. So for us it is important to know the history, the small details, even gossip about a producer and everything associated with them.
Valya: We try to visit them, to get to know them, to see the whole process. We have managed to do this with most of them. We also go to specialized exhibitions, organized in Bulgaria to taste everything new on offer.
Assen: We used to have 20-25 wineries but now we have about 60, we grow every day and we’re looking for the new exciting stuff. We offer almost all categories of wine – most are of the table variety, but also dessert and sparkling wines. We offer mid and high grade wines. In trade this is a double-edged sword but we are fully behind every bottle and we can’t afford compromises. We want to be honest in our offerings and we look for the natural ratio between price and quality. If I like something a lot, but the price doesn’t match, I don’t accept it in the shop.

What varieties do you offer?
We insist on and admire working with typical Bulgarian varieties such as Mavrud, Melnik, Rubin, Rouen, Muscat, Dimiat, Tamianka… In recent years, there have been winemakers who work with them and try to make great wine and promote Bulgaria, because this is the future, this is the way for Bulgaria to enter the global wine market. Now we compete with Merlot and Cabernet, which are produced in Italy and France, and we must offer some unique variety.

What kind of customers do you have?
During the summer tourist season there are days when the ratio is 50:50 between Bulgarians and tourists. There are also lots of foreigners who live in Bulgaria and lots of Bulgarians who live abroad and want to bring our wines there. In these 2 years very often we’ve had to select wines for a wedding between a Bulgarian and a foreigner.
Valya: Unfortunately we still need Bulgarian support for the idea because foreigners themselves don’t seem to appreciate Bulgarian wines as much and this surely isn’t the first thing they would be looking for when they come to visit Bulgaria or Sofia. Someone has to give them information to spark their interest. Our main concept is to bring people here. We organize lots of events and various presentations, because we’d like to make wine drinking and selection to be a social experience, and we contribute to it with the atmosphere and with the conversations in the shop. Assen is 100 % commited to selling wine here in the shop, because we believe that this is exactly the personal element that’s missing in supemarkets and this is what we want to give our customers – a more complete product and not just a bottle of wine they can order from any website.

Why is the shop called Vino Orenda?
Valya: Lots of people think it’s Spanish, but orenda is actually a proto-Bulgarian word. At the time we were opening the shop we were reading a book by Nikolay Penchev. He writes Bulgarian crime novels set at Khan Krum’s time and we were impressed by this word and the legend of him beheading Nikephoros and then drinking wine from a cup, made out of his skull and thus taking his orenda. We liked this connection with Bulgarian spirit and the meaning of the word – this is the inner spiritual power of a person. And also this subtle joke about drinking wine – that you can get someone else’s power.

Interviewer: Bistra Ivanova
Photos: Stefan Suchev
Translation from Bulgarian: Boyan Boychev
Illustration: Vessela Dancheva for
Compote Collective
14 November 2014