Macedonia has rich wine tradition. Numerous archeological findings, the oldest ones dating 13 century b.c., have proven the affinity towards growing grapes and producing wine as one of the most important in Macedonian history.
During the time of Philip II and Alexander the Great members of the Macedonian royal family were known as strong consumers of Macedonian wine.
This tradition continued during the Roman Empire where Macedonia was one of the most important regions for growing grapes in the Empire.
Also, the significance of the wine was continued at the time of the introduction and the rise of Christianity whereas wine was part of almost all Orthodox Church ceremonies.
History confirms that the wine was important during the rein of Czar Samuil, in the middle ages and during the Turkish rule in Macedonia.
At the begining of the 20th century there were number of noble families that were producing grape and wine. At that time King Alexandar Karadjordjevic decided to plant vineyards and to build a winery in Demir Kapija, Macedonia.
After the second world war, with the introduction of the socialism the barrels and the equipment for production of wine owned by the different families, small producers of wine, were nationalized.
During the socialism 13 large wineries were created in the Republic of Macedonia, few of them starting its operations with the nationalized barrels and equipment from different families. On the other side there were more than 30.000 families that owned small vineyards. They were selling the grape to the 13 large wineries.
That was an interesting situation whereas everithing else is state owned and embeded in the socialistic economy while the grapegrowing industry is privatly owned and very vibrant. That resulted in a development of nice healthy vineyards that produced highest quality grapes.
At the end of the 20th century after the seapartion of Reublic of Macedonia from Yugoslavia the privatisation proces of the old wineries started. While on the begining of the 21st century number of investors invested in small new wineries all around the country.
According to climate characteristics and EU classification, Republic of Macedonia belongs in III-C-b zone for producing wine types of grape, and has adopted the enological regulations for this zone.
Republic of Macedonia represents one grape growing area, which geographically can be divided into three grape growing regions:
1. Povardarie region (Vardar valley, i.e. Central Region ) – includes 83% of the total production
2. Pelagonia-Polog region (Western Region) - includes 13% of the total production
3. Pchinya–Osogovo (Eastern Region) - includes 4% of the total production
These three regions are divided in 16 districts (sub regions) which are characterized with different production conditions as well as different intensity of production.
The larges part of the production of grape and wine is in the Tikveshiya Wine District which is the central and the biggest part of the Povardarie region occupying all the area suitable for grapevine cultivation in the municipalities of Demir Kapija, Kavadarci, Rosoman, Negotino and Gradsko.
The intense aroma of the Macedonian wines is result of the combined influence of the Mediterranean and continental climates, with warm summer days and cooler nights. The lengthy ripening process concentrates the sugar and acids in the grapes, ensuring rich colors and complex aromas in the wines.
Vineyards and grape
Today Macedonia has around 24,000 ha of vineyards that produce considerable quantities of highest quality grape.
The two main varieties grown in Macedonia are Vranec (red) and Smederevka (white). Beside those two the most popular varieties include international ones like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir from the red and Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc from the white varieties.
In addition there are number of other different varieties as Muscat Ottonel, Semillon, Rkaciteli, Grenache Blanc, and Kadarka, that are grown in Macedonia.
And than, there is a group of exotic local and regional varieties like Zilavka, Prokupec and Stanushina.
Viticulture in Macedonia is very rich and varied in potential for grape growing but that potential is only just beginning to be realized, even though the country has a long and distinguished history of winemaking.
There are 80 officially registered wineries in Macedonia with total capacity above 220 Million lit. Wineries process about 70% of the total harvested grape, while about 30% is being processed directly by grape growers for their own home production and consumption of wine and “rakiya” (grape brandy).
During the socialistic times out of the 13th large wineries only two were partialy oriented toward the bottled wine. So most of the wine produced was sold as bulk without any efforts to build a brand out of the Macedonian wine.
This situation hunts Macedonian wine even now. Although there are sifnificant investments in the wine industry Macedonia is still not recgonized by the wine consumers around the world as the wine country.
It is true that if you take any of the existing wine guides, books, enciclopedias or wine magazines you will have a hard time to get some precise information about Macedonian wine except if those are issued in some of the Ex-Yugoslavian republics.
However this is going to change dramatically in the near future. The fact that you are reading this text shows you that the process of change has started.
The new owners of the formerly state owned wineries are investing in equipment upgrade, reconstruction of wineries and human resource development as the Macedonian wine industry makes the switch from bulk to bottled wine production.
The investors in the new wineries have built the same from scratch with clear vision to produce bottled wine.
All wineries are investing in all aspects of the marketing mix and together with the government of Macedonia are trying to promote Macedonian wine. Here is the link where you could watch the new video spot for Macedonian Wine. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i01RoxZ2oqA&feature=related)
Based on the fact that we have ideal climatic and soil condition, vineyards in excellent condition that are producing highest quality grape, and have investments and private initiative we believe that Macedonian wine will become recognized and demanded by the wine consumers around the world.
Most of us, investors in the wine industry in Macedonia, dream about the day when Macedonian Vranec will be acknowledged as the “Next Big Red”.
We invite you to try Macedonian wine and to take a wine tour around Macedonia. We are sure that you will be amazed.