In the cellar in the village of Ploski customers prepare wine themselves
People like to see that the owner is devoted to his activity, brothers Georgi and Todor Georgievi explain the concept
A wine cellar in the village of Ploski offers customers to make wine on their own. They are explained how to differentiate the varieties and choose the most appropriate combination by Todor Georgiev, who has attended two wine courses in England. He and his brother Georgi are the owners of Georgiewi Bros and created the WineMakeryClub. The winery is located in the home village of their mother, 6 km from Sandanski.
It all started with Georgi Georgiev, who decided to build a house there eight years ago. The village is situated high in the mountains and there are vineyards along the road. One day when I build the house, I will also have vineyards, Georgi Georgiev said and in 2009 he produced his first wine as an amateur.
"It was very good and we drank it quickly. The next year I had to make a larger amount", Georgiev recalls. And he decided to make wine. He invited Todor, who had just graduated his business education in England.
We started planning how to create a small boutique winery. Besides wine, we wanted to provide entertainment to the people, says Todor Georgiev. Therefore they named the place WineMakeryClub (from English - club of winemakers or a wine workshop).
The idea is not very popular in our country but in the United States and France is has been well developed, the brothers explained. "People like to see that the owner is committed to his business. I have to really know what we are doing. We both can present our wine best and talk about it with great love," Todor Georgiev says.
He undertook to present the event to clients - "Being a winemaker for a day." Todor Georgiev presents two types of wine - "Melnik" which is their production, and a European variety. Customers mix them in bottles and choose which flavor they want to dominate. Then the bottle is labeled with the name of the client.
"In the beginning, when we researched how much it all costs and what we had to buy, people laughed at us. We had to read a lot of literature to develop a proper business plan," the brothers recall. Once the ideas were ready, Georgievi started going to the banks in search of funding. Some of the institutions had already exhausted the funds for start-ups, others wanted greater collaterals or high income from the loan applicants.
"Then our friends recommended the microfinance institution JOBS, part of the Bulgarian Development Bank. I first thought: This is a state-owned bank, things must be very complicated there. I went there biased," recalls Todor Georgiev. The experts in the bank realized that the brothers were well aware of their ideas and explained to them the possibility offered by the MFI for start-ups.
"If we hadn’t received this loan from Jobs, we wouldn’t be able to run the business. Our friends helped us in the beginning, but the loan of BGN 83 thousand from the microfinance institution was the main amount. We used it to construct the building and purchase equipment,” Todor Georgiev says.
In the first year the construction was delayed, the wine production permit was also delayed. Therefore, their first year turned out to be a zero year. "Luckily, the first year of the loan from MFI Jobs is grace period. We had to request a review of the loan, which was carried out very smoothly. I was once again surprised that things were happening so easily."
Now the brothers expect big sales to start since they already have their own production. Currently they are negotiating with companies and establishments, an English company has also been interested. They hope one of their wines will take a medal at a major competition.
Although the winery is small, it is made according to the standards of the big ones - the containers are made of stainless steel, they have a cooling system, and the temperature of each process may be controlled with a special device.
Georgi lives in the village and Todor travels to the winery several times a week. He returns to Sofia early in the morning to his other job. Their children also help them - Todor’s son works in the winery and the daughters of the two brothers are responsible for the marketing. Their first vintage is called Friends Selection - named after their friends who help them. Vintage 2016 is Family Selection for the entire family, which is involved in the work.
Young people are not motivated to work, especially in the country. We make things with so much love that we probably manage to inspire and we do not forcefully make them help us, the brothers explain. Todor Georgiev graduated in England, he has a blue card for highly skilled employees, which entitled him to work on the island long before England opened its market to foreign workers. However, he saw the opportunity in Bulgaria. He invited Andrew Berrow, one of the most popular bloggers in England writing about wine, to visit the winery.
They gave him to try orange wine. They produce it from white grapes based on a technology for red wine and its color becomes deep yellow.
The brothers decided to familiarize the blogger with other wineries in the area. Berrow wrote: If you can define the Bulgarian wine in a word, it would be potential. Potential for development, potential for wine tourism, potential for good wine.