From Bulgaria With Love – Kukeri Wines’ Petar Kirilov Turns Village Wisdom into Gold Medals

Apr 12, 2012

(SFGate) - To understand Petar Kirilov’s relationship with wine you first have to learn about Kukeri, a pagan festival in his native Bulgaria. Held during the first days of January and dating back 8,000 years, Kukeri once served as a dual celebration of both Dionysus (wine, fertility, rebirth) and a boy’s coming of age.

Today, both men and women dress in gorgeous and elaborate costumes, often woven from goat hair and with large bells that hang at the waist. The rituals remain rooted in casting away the curses of the previous year and welcoming the new bounty with Dionysian optimism. Petar named his nascent winery Kukeri in this same spirit, acknowledging that each year brings a new harvest with potential for greatness. His impressive line-up of gold medal-award-winning Cabs, Pinots and Chardonnays suggest each new vintage of Kukeri Winesis worth the wait.

“In the small town where I was born and raised in Bulgaria, every family has a small vineyard. It is very organic. After fermentation, when the free run wine is racked, we save the pomace to distill and make grappa. The whole thing started with me learning the power of making wine just naturally, even though the quality was less assured. As I progressed, I decided to learn how to become a better winemaker.”

tar studied food and wine technology in his native land and received a master’s degree in winemaking. He applied for an internship in Napa Valley, where he worked with Truchard Vineyards for almost a year before returning to Bulgaria. Drawn to the wines he describes as having “much bigger” body than their European counterparts, he immediately applied for a Green Card. He returned in 2005 to work with Clark Smith, a renowned Winemaker and entrepreneur in Napa and Sonoma. Later, working as a winemaker at Meadowcroft Wines and Foyt Wines, Petar decided to create Kukeri Wines – small lot, single vineyards that he began with just one ton of grapes. Given his success at the SF Chronicle International Wine Competition (SFCIWC), Petar is definitely a Napa Valley winemaker to follow.  


By: VinoEnology - Wine Industry Marketplace, News & Jobs

VinoEnology - Wine Industry Marketplace, News & Jobs
Country: USA
Address: 1446 Industrial Ave. Sebastopol, CA , 95472
Phone: 707-490-2067

Share: Delicious Digg StumbleUpon Reddit Furl Facebook Google Yahoo Twitter


Leave a comment