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New group to invest in Bulgarian vineyards and branded wines

Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

Domaine Boyar is merging with Vinprom Rouse, the other major exporter of Bulgarian wines to the west. Margo Todorov, chief executive officer of Boyar International which owns 54% of Domaine Boyar, told Harpers that there is going to be a multi-million cash injection to be invested in viticulture and marketing. The new company, Boyar Estates, which will be based in Luxembourg, has already acquired approximately 1,000ha of land for vineyards, with 20ha already planted. Another 100ha is being prepared for planting. The company is also going to invest in new varietal clones, according to Todorov. The Blueridge winery, which was constructed and commissioned in 1999, will give its name to Boyar's new range of branded Bulgarian wines. Vinprom Rouse is owned by a US multi-national, Seaboard, which will take 40% of Boyar Estates, with Todorov holding the rest. The board of the new company comprises: Todorov as chairman; Domaine Boyar managing director, Plamen Grozdanov, becomes md of the new group; Malcolm Cummings will become chief financial officer. Joe Rodrigues, vice-president of Seaboard and Bill Watson, partner with Barrings Central Equity Investment Fund, will be non-executive directors. Boyar Estates will have three wineries: Boyar's Blueridge, Iambol and Shumen plus Vinprom Rouse's Rouse and Korten wineries. "The two companies represented about 50% of Bulgarian wine exports to the west," said Todorov. "We have been competitors, but we have also been talking on important issues." He said the problem with Bulgarian wines stemmed from the country tying its currency to the Deutschmark and the continued privatisation of the land after the collapse of Communism, which resulted in huge variations in the quality of fruit from vineyards. "Western consumers are not prepared to take the variations which they would regard as usual with a country like France. Bulgarian wines are bundled into one whereas some were better than ever, but others were not. In the consumer's eyes the wines were not consistent," said Todorov. Todorov claimed that Domaine Boyar has increased share by 10% year on year in a declining market for Bulgarian wines. As well as investing in vineyards, the new company intends to unveil a major advertising campaign in the spring, focusing on the Blueridge range of varietal wines.

*** Related Story:

The new vintages of Domaine Boyar's Premium Cuvee range includes the 1999 Premium Cuve Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines were awarded silver medals in this year's International Wine Challenge. The range is targeted at those who prefer an un-oaked style of wine. The two wines are available at Somerfield priced at 3.99.