The Rose Valley and Bulgarian Rose Oil
Since the antique the queen of all flowers, the Rose, has been a symbol of health, youth and beauty. With its delicate tenderness, unparalleled aroma and unique qualities, bringing a feeling of joy, happiness and health, this royal plant has had a special place in people's hearts throughout the centuries and is part of tales, legends and romantic stories.
Originating from central Asia, the Rosa Damascena has found its home between the sunny mountains in central Bulgaria. With its fruitful land and mild climate representing perfect growing conditions for this oil bearing flower, this region has become the famous "Rose Valley", the only area in the world where the Rose is so rich in oil. It is reported that roses have been cultivated in this area since Roman times, the production of rose oil dates back to the 16th century, since the 19th century Bulgaria is the world leader in the manufacturing of rose oil, producing nearly half of the world production of rose oil.
Geologically the Rose Valley consists of two river valleys, "Kazanlak" (1895 square kilometers) to the west surrounding the river Stryama and "Kalofer" (1387 square kilometers) around the river Tundzha to the east. Each year, numerous festivals celebrating roses and rose oil are held in the towns located in these valleys. During the picking season, lasting from May to June, the area is covered with a pleasant scent of the colorful rose flowers. The cutting of the flowers in the morning before sunrise one by one, still done by hand while exercising great care, traditionally by women, requires great dexterity and patience. The harvest is processed the same day by the distilleries. There are three different methods used for the extraction of rose oil from the plant material: steam distillation which produces essential rose oil, solvent extraction, producing an absolute (rose absolute) and the supercritical carbon dioxide extraction yielding a concrete.
Over 3000 kilograms of hand-picked rose petals are needed to produce just 1 kilogram of rose oil, which explains why this elixir, full of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, having calming, anti-inflammatory and nourishing effects, is one of the most expensive essential oils available on the market today, also referred to as "liquid gold". It maintains high levels of hydration, makes the skin soft and tender, it's aroma is known to relieve stress and have a positive effect on depressive states. No wonder top cosmetic and perfume brands world-wide use Bulgarian Rose Oil in their products.
The European Commission approved Bulgarian rose oil (Bulgarsko rozovo maslo) as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in September 2014 (Press release).