The Confession of a Pianist
By Emil Kolarov and Lubomir Boyadjiev, DiVINO
Ivo Varbanov is not an ordinary winemaker; neither is he an ordinary wine lover and respectively that somehow makes him an exceptional musician. When a world known pianist and a real wine worshipper plants his first vineyards he turns into a quite peculiar winemaker.
When did you decide that you want to devote yourself to wines?
I moved from Bulgaria to Italy when I was 8 years old and when I was 21 I moved from Italy to England, where I live at present. My interest in wine coincides with the beginning of my specialization in Royal Northern College of Music и Royal Academy of Music.I have always liked food and cooking and as a natural consequence I started enjoying wine as part of the food/eating ritual.
How did you choose the exact place to plant your vineyards? Why exactly this place?
I searched for two and a half years for the place that would meet my imagination and criteria in order to plant a vineyard. We believe the terroir of South Sakar has a great potential to make fabulously rich and structured wines. It is one of the best areas in the country, in my modest opinion.
What is the between wine and music? Is there any cross point at all or they are supplementary? Do you have any free time for a glass of wine during your tense performances schedule?
Both Classical Music and Wine are a form of art and they are one the best expressions of European civilization. I feel that in some aspects they speak the same language. I have to say that I am a bit elitist, even if I live in the country of pop culture. Quality, sincerity and profoundness are the main characteristics that I look for in a wine and of course in music.
Yes, life is not easy as I have to split my daily routine. I try to dedicate several hours to my playing, but of course as well few hours to my wine. It is obvious, that considering the success of it, it is no longer a game and not only a way of proving my point that in Bulgaria we can make good wines too. I have to work 7 days a week in order to keep up my career and of course the wine business.
How do you define the wines of “Ivo Varbanov” brand mark?
Lately many people in Bulgaria are saying: “Your wines are interesting”. I don’t know if this is the best way to describe them, but certainly they are controlled, made with technical competence, balanced and always reflecting the vineyard. Each wine has its own identity and I feel that each person can find a favorite one. All this variety wines finds expression in our labels and each wine has a subtitle borrowed from the best classical music.
What do you think the Bulgarian wine producers should do to return to the world wine scene?
Bulgarian wine producers should try to focus on the long term goals of the industry. We need to increase the consumption of bottled wine in the country to start with. We should help the understanding of wine, as an important national product and be more knowledgeable ourselves.
What should we do to develop the product “wine tourism”? Would it be enough that Bulgariais a country with wine and tourist traditions?
Bulgaria has over 2.000 years of history in making wine but very little tradition over the last 100 years. In order to develop wine tourism, it would be necessary to stimulate the symbiosis of agriculture, food, wine, nature, and culture.
According to you, do the local sorts of grapes have potential?
I believe we certainly need to find the means to develop the indigenous varietals. But this has to be made with a modern idea of viticulture and with serious clonally research in order to find the best clones of our beloved Mavrud, Melnik and Gamza.