It happened back in the days of Khan Krum the Fearsome, notorious for its strict laws….
Because of terrible wine abuse, the country was rife with drunkenness and debauchery, which, among other things, affected badly the discipline and the morale of the army. Then, the Khan passed a severe law – to uproot all vineyards! Filled with sorrow, people reluctantly obeyed the law because they were fully aware that the Khan wasn’t joking and any disobedience would cost somebody’s head.
Some time passed…. Little by little people got used to doing without wine. But then one day a lion from the Khan’s menagerie jumped over the fence and began to roam through the streets of the city. There was terror and panic, because the lion showed no mercy to anyone, and soon the streets were covered with dead bodies. Nobody dared do anything, because, apart from being incredibly fierce, the lion belonged to the Khan himself.
Meanwhile, in the house of a poor widow, her only son - a soldier, who had come home on leave - was just finishing the generous lunch that his loving mother had served him. The soldier heard the pandemonium in the street and went out to see what was going on – and he bumped into the fierce lion, its huge dreadful mouth wide open. However, the brave soldier didn’t retreat. Just the opposite – with a few blows he knocked the lion to the ground and killed it. However having realized that the lion was the Khan’s property, the lad ran away and hid behind the tall fence of his house.
But, impressed by this remarkable show of valour and strength, the Khan forgot about the lion and wished to meet the brave fellow. Town criers announced the news all over the city and declared that the Khan had also promised a great prize for the fearless hero. And, as usually happens in such circumstances, hundreds of candidates turned up. But the Khan knew very well his subjects and had prepared a test for bravery. When the prospective candidate for fame entered his room, the Khan invited him to sit closer and asked him to pluck a white hair from his beard. The moment the would-be hero, with a trembling hand, was about to touch the Khan’s beard, the Khan roared angrily in a loud voice and the poor coward fell down to his feet pleading for mercy. There was only one verdict for the lie - a hundred strokes with a stick applied to the culprit’s naked body.
Finally, our lad plucked up courage to go to the Khan’s castle. He entered the Khan’s room and introduced himself. The Khan asked him:
“Boy, was that you who killed the lion?”
“Oh, mighty Khan, it was me,” the lad answered firmly and clearly.
The Khan invited the soldier to come closer and asked him to pluck the white hair out. But when the Khan roared, the bold fellow wasn’t even startled in the slightest. Instead, he took a firm grip of the Khan’s beard, and holding it tightly, told him angrily, “Don’t move, or else I will pluck the whole beard out!” Only then did the Khan realize that the person standing in from of him was the real fearless hero and presented him with generous gifts.
But the Khan was also curious to find out more about the lad’s life, and, most importantly, what the source of his bravery and courage was. The lad told his life story – about his service in the army, about his loving mother… As for the courage he demonstrated - there was a secret that he wanted to share with the Khan, but he begged him not to punish his mother. The Khan promised and the lad disclosed it:
“Oh, mighty Khan, my mother obeyed your law and uprooted the vineyard but she left a single vine in her yard from which she makes red wine every year! At lunch, she treated me to a bowl of this red wine and the moment I drank it, I summoned up great courage and defeated the lion. Before coming to you, I took a few sips, too, just to cheer up - and I nearly plucked your beard out! I humbly plead for your mercy and forgiveness!”
It was then that the Khan reflected on what had happened. He abolished his law and granted his consent for vineyards to be grown and wine made, but on one condition only, “Wine should be drunk in moderation!”
We only need to add that the name of our brave soldier was Mavrud, and in his honour the variety was named Mavrud, too. Since then, down to the present day, the Mavrud variety has been grown in our lands, mainly in the Thracian Plain. It is also believed that we have inherited this variety from the Thracians – the founders of vine-growing and wine-making – a tradition that has been preserved and further developed over the centuries.