1. Introduce yourself!
Hello, I’m happy to have the opportunity to introduce myself. I’ll try to do it in a couple of sentences, bit it will be difficult. My name is Snejana Mutafchiyska, an enologist with 35 years of experience in winemaking – in short, my whole professional life has passed in making wine. I have worked in two big companies, but now I’m devoted to my own project. I have been a wine consultant to many wineries in Bulgaria and I still consult a few. I have taken part in international tastings’ committees in Germany and Belgium. In 2018, Roxs winery was established. This is a small boutique winery with a capacity for 50 tons of grapes, situated in the heart of the Thracian Valley – Vinarovo village, Stara Zagora district. I’m currently part of the team at ROXS WINERY together with my husband and colleague Atanas Mutafchiyski and our good friends Delyana and Dako Nikolovi.
2. Being a winemaker is both demanding and rewarding. What are the rewards of the job and what is the most demanding part of the job?
Making wine is my life, this profession gave me the opportunity to connect with positive people in many places around the world, the grape vine inspires me, it connects me with the earth and the sun. It’s an amazing feeling to see how this plant grows and gives fruits, from which we as winemakers create a unique beverage. The enologist profession charges me emotionally, gives me strength and confidence, because it is a difficult profession for a woman. Maybe it took from me some free time to spend with my children, but as we Bulgarians say, – It is a blessing in disguise – because they have become independent, intelligent and smart men, who manage to cope on their own.
3. Which variety do you find the most challenging and why?
After many years of experience, I would say that there is no variety in Bulgaria that I have not worked with and that has not been a challenge for me, but I definitely have an affinity for white grapes and my favorite is Sauvignon Blanc. It took me years to make a Sauvignon Blanc wine that I like – French style. Working on developing its taste inspired me the most because I wanted to create a gentle, ethereal and harmonic wine. I think I succeeded, but there are still many things to perfect and to experiment with. Regarding the red varieties, I love to work with the lesser-known varieties such as Marselan, Carménère – varieties that Bulgarians don’t know much about. Now I want to work with Red Misket, Rubin and Mavrud – the Bulgarian varieties which I find interesting and I will spend time to develop the specific enological practices for these varieties. I think that this is the way to improve the image of the Bulgarian varieties.
4. Which is the best vintage in your professional life?
I remember many vintages, but this is due to my rich experience. I remember very well vintages 1986, 2004, 2008 and of course I remember 2013 as a unique vintage. The last two vintages (2018 and 2019) were also good.
5. Describe the modern Bulgarian wine with 5 words.
Emotional, Charging, Sunny, Great, Aristocratic
6. Which variety would you recommend to a foreigner to best represent Bulgarian wine?
I would always recommend Bulgarian varieties such as Rubin, Mavrud, Gamza.
7. Where is Bulgaria’s place on the global wine map?
Unfortunately, Bulgaria’s image as a wine country has been discredited on the international market. Foreigners always expect wines at a very low price, and the big wineries contribute to that notion. The lack of cooperation between the small cellars is well-known. Our sector, similarly to many others in Bulgaria, experienced various setbacks and it’s normal to have increased competition, but I think it is time for the small wineries to cooperate in order to develop better wine export and wine tourism. I’m disappointed by how everyone talks against the others, thinking that his/her wine is the best one. It’s true that in Bulgaria there are now many good wines whose quality can exceed the quality of wines from many leading wine countries. That’s why we should try to overcome our ego and establish small associations which will promote our enterprises in and out of Bulgaria.
8. How do you think the coronavirus pandemic will impact the Bulgarian wine industry?
The worldwide Coronavirus pandemic will cause disturbances on the wine market in Bulgaria and around the world. First and foremost, the most important thing is to survive the pandemic, but the closure of restaurants is leading to sharp decreases in sales for all wineries. I think that this year will be more difficult for the independent winegrowers, because a lot of wine will remain in stock in the cellars and won’t be sold, which will reduce the budgets of the wineries. It will be necessary to sell wines from the 2019 vintage and I hope that the 2020 vintage will be harvested and not left on the vineyards. There are discussions that the companies from the food and agricultural industries will receive assistance but how the wine producers will be supported is unknown. Who will support the Bulgarian wine producers and how, these are questions that concern not only me, but I suspect all my colleagues.