Wine production in Macedonia dates as far back as 13th century BC. From the time of Alexander The Great up until Roman and Turkish rules, wine consumption in this region has remained prominent. During ancient times, wines were produced by monks at Orthodox Church and consumed during religious ceremonies. In the 1980s, Macedonia accounted for around two-thirds of the Yugoslav wine production. Now that Macedonia is a much smaller independent nation, high quality grape growing and wine production still remains an important part of the culture.
Rolling hills, open grasslands, sunny days and chilly nights make the country ideal for growing fine varieties of grapes. There are namely three wine regions in Macedonia – The Central (Povardarie), Western (Pelagonia-Polog), and Eastern Regions (Pchinya–Osogovo). There are altogether 80 wineries in Macedonia!
One of the most famous wineries among visitors is Popova Kula Winery, located in Povardarie region in the Demir Kapija valley. Popova Kula (meaning Priest’s Tower) began in the 13th century and resurrected in 2004. Recent proprietors planted new vines, purchased modern equipment, opened a restaurant and a boutique hotel. The small winery only uses grapes from vineyards that are located within 10km from the winery, and strongly believe in going local. Their own production cycle is 12-18 months but it is surprising to see the exceptional quality of wines they are able to bottle in this short amount of time.
Currently, the winery produces 20+ wines from 11 different varieties of grapes including Macedonian varieties – Stanushina, Vranec, Zilavka, and Prokupec; and internationally known Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Temjanika, Chardonnay and Muscat. A wine tasting paired with dinner at the hotel’s restaurant will make you realize that Popova Kula was worth the drive to.
It is also recommended that you stay overnight at the hotel rather than drive yourself back to the nearest big city. The 11 rooms at the hotel start at only 30 Euros per night and include basic amenities in modern rustic style. However, the real beauty lies in the natural surroundings of the hotel where you can enjoy a crisp morning walk in the vineyards, play in the lush gardens, or sip a coffee in the patio overlooking the valley.
Consider a wine tasting tour of Macedonia during your next visit.