Bulgaria is one of the countries with the oldest wine-growing tradition in Europe. The origins on the territory of today's state point to a beginning as early as 5,000 years ago, based on archaeological findings and traditional texts. Thracian tribes north and south of the Balkan Mountains cultivated wild gra pes and practised a distinct cult in honour of the wine god Dionysus. The Thracians are credited with cultivating the oldest Bulgarian grape varieties or their ancestors such as Mavrud, Pamid, Dimyat, Melnik (Shiroka Melnishka) and Gamza (Kadarka). At the time of the Roman Empire, wine from Thrace was a sought-after export to Greece, Sicily, Asia Minor (Anatolia, Turkey) and Egypt.