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Published:  23 July, 2008

Stork Nest Estates, which claims to be Bulgaria's first fully integrated wine company, is being launched at the LIWSF. The company was formed following a multimillion-dollar investment by a group of private equity investors led by Australian investment banker Lou Ghirardello and Bulgarian wine visionary' Ivan Zahariev. The company acquired the Vinprom Svischtov winery and vineyards, which have been renamed Stork Nest Estates. The estate has 428 hectares (ha) already under vine in northern Bulgaria and further parcels of land ready for planting - 200ha in northern Bulgaria and 100ha in the south. The company says that an initial sum of US$6 million has been allocated to upgrading the vineyards and winery, with a further US$4.8 million earmarked for marketing over the next five years . The vineyards currently produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay and will produce some of Bulgaria's first Viognier, Shiraz, Malbec and Pinot Noir from 2003. We are now positioning Stork Nest Estates to be a strong international force in a fierce market,' said Ghirardello. From an Australian perspective - where my main investment has been to date - this is an amazing opportunity, given the quality of the investment and the strength of the business model. Stork Nest Estates' excellent vineyards, winemaking expertise, financial and management strength all support our vision of long-term success.' This is the realisation of a long-term dream,' added Zahariev, formerly with Bulgarian Vintners Company. Owning the vineyards and winery gives us direct management over every aspect of production, allowing us to deliver outstanding quality at a competitive price. This level of product and quality control does not exist elsewhere in Bulgaria.' Stork Nest Estates' premium range will be distributed in the UK by WineZ Ltd, a subsidiary of Stork Nest Estates.