Ok, we’ll admit it, we were initially a little confused by the unusual location of this restaurant and wine shop, (adjoining the Luk Oil gas station as you enter Harmanli from the Topolovgrad road), but once you discover that the owner’s own vineyard (Villa Basserea) is right next door, and how easy it is to find, it all begins to make more sense.
And, its not just the location of The Sakar Wine Shop and Tasting Room which screams ‘unusual’ so too does its impressive collection of Sakar region wines and its delicious range of international dishes.
Given that most Sakar wines are almost all premium and primarily for export, it is highly unusual to find more than one or two in any large supermarket. In fact, until the Sakar Wine Shop and Tasting Room opened, the only option for those hoping to taste and buy a wider selection of these wines would have been to physically visit each vineyard.
Not only does it offer a vest selection of all Villa Bassarea wines but consolidates all local Sakar labels, with Castra Rubra, Ivo Varbanov, Bratanov, Chateau Kolarovo, Zaara Estate and more- also available to buy.
However, its not just about the wine at Sakar Wine Shop and Tasting Room, the food is also a big plus for the region. Although the menu does offer some trusted old Bulgarian favourites, its really worth trying the imaginative salads, divine mezze served with crusty bread and the largest local fish and seafood selection available in the Haskovo region. And, its not just us who thinks so, the Harmanli crowd obviously know a good thing when they see it and the place is packed daily for both lunch and dinner, so if you do plan to visit, it is essential to book ahead.
However, we should warn non-Bulgarian speakers, the menu is currently only available in Bulgarian, although the staff do speak English. Rather than plough through it all, (and it is lengthy), we simply asked the staff for their recommendations based on hunger levels and their personal favourites- and we were not disappointed.
Inside the wine selection is really impressive, with reds, whites and rose from each local vineyard. Tastings can be arranged via Reggie the English speaking barman, as can tours of the Villa Basserea facility next door.
The Sakar Wine Shop and Tasting Room is a really imaginative new initiative in the local wine scene. Bringing great food and a really impressive local wine selection to both those who want an introduction to the Sakar wine region, and those seeking specific vineyard/vintages which are generally not available in Bulgaria.
For more information on the Sakar Wine Shop and Tasting Room and to make a booking, visit their Facebook page here.