Among the places where humanity started producing wine, one such place is Macedonia. Evidences for that are found dating back to eight century B.C. Ancient Rome, where they also prized the wines produced in Macedonia.
A sunny, pristine and mountainous country in the heart of the Balkans, the Republic of Macedonia uses both it’s experiences and it’s divine gifts to produce some of the region’s finest wines. Macedonia is the birthplace of the Cyrillic Alphabet, created by Saints Cyril and Methody (863 A.D.), and the cradle of Slavonic literacy and literature. Macedonians are renowned for their hospitality and the great pride they have in their country with rich culture and history, exquisite traditional food and excellent wine. The State symbol is a golden sun symbolising the freedom of the country and that of its peoples.
In the days of former Yugoslavia, Macedonia accounted for two thirds of the total wine production in the whole federation. Most of the wine was exported to Europe and to the former Soviet Union. Macedonia, today, although has lost some of the former Soviet markets, it still continues to be one of the biggest wine exporters in the European Union. Unfortunately, the export to the EU is still mostly in bulk, even though every year the export in bottles is increasing, and now even finer wines are finding their place in the European market.
Just as an example for this is the fact that Macedonia is the third biggest wine exporter to Germany (again – in bulk, not bottles). Since 2012, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Albania import much of Macedonian grape and wine in bulk, in order to add it to their own wines with the goal to improve their quality. This, according to the law, is allowed with up to certain percentages of the wine, while they can remain to declare their wines under their geographic origins.
Macedonians believe that great wines are made by great grapes. The Republic of Macedonia’s varied terrain offers a variety of vineyard locations. The fruit in our reds comes from lower altitude vineyards with rich, heavy, clay–filled soils, while in other vineyards, the cooler environment protects the freshness and harmony in the white grape varieties, planted on lighter soils and at higher altitudes. Owing to the extremely favourable climate conditions, Macedonian eco-friendly grapes are sprayed only up to a maximum of 4 times a year, which makes them, compared with the old European traditional wine producing countries – clean from chemistry, pure and natural wines, that do not contain toxins bad for the body.
Macedonia’s vintners bring together the natural advantages of the region with the best of modern wine-making technology to produce the pre-eminent indigenous variety Vranec (VRAN–ets) and other local and international varieties. Their flavour and complexity are unique and recognisably Macedonian, with intense aromas as a result of the combined influence of the Mediterranean and continental climates, with warm summer days and cooler nights. The lengthy ripening process focuses on breaking down the sugar and acids from the grapes, ensuring rich colours and complex aromas in the wines.
In the years that followed Macedonia‘s independence in 1991, the wine industry has witnessed the emergence of successful privately owned wineries dedicated to the production of wines of excellent quality, flavour and consistency. In recent years, the improvement in quality has been substantial. Wineries have introduced stricter quality control, restricted the types of grapes grown to the best quality indigenous and international varieties, and built modern and efficient cellars. By the end of 2008, there were 68 registered wineries in the country, and today those numbers are only growing.
Macedonians want to say that their wines rank among the best value and most drinkable wines available anywhere. And it is not far from being true. When visiting Macedonia, you can join the Macedonian Wine Club, chaired by a Dutch gentleman, who organises wine degustations and group visits to wineries every month.