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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 finds 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. In the Middle Ages, viticulture reached a peak due to the monasteries with their extensive vineyards. In 1393, the Bulgarian Empire was conquered by the Ottomans and remained under Islamic rule for almost 500 years until 1878. Only the production of table grapes was permitted. The prohibition of alcohol led to a strong threat to viticulture. How important viticulture was taken by the state is shown by the fact that immediately after Ottoman rule in 1879, a wine law was passed even before a constitution was adopted. However, viticulture was not resumed on a larger scale until after the First World War and was practised exclusively by small winegrowers with autochthonous varieties.

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