Wine Industry

WINES OF MACEDONIA

Wine is one of the symbols of the Macedonian country. The secret of the taste of the Macedonian wines is in the sun, which in Central Macedonia, contributes to the taste of each and every grape seed. Even though Macedonian wines might be new to many people, wine is not at all new to Macedonia. The country situated in the middle of Balkan Peninsula has been making wines from Ancient times. In this area, the vine used to be cultivated even 4,000 years ago. Many artifacts found on the ancient sites speak for the long tradition of grape growing. Part of these artifacts are drawings of grapes and vines carved in stone, marble and terracotta and can be seen in the museums in Macedonia, but a large number of these artifacts are now decorating the showcases of museums in Sofia, Belgrade, Berlin and others as well.

History

Even though Macedonian wines might be new to many people, wine is not at all new to Macedonia. The country situated in the middle of Balkan Peninsula has been making wines from Ancient times. In this area, the vine used to be cultivated even 4,000 years ago. Many artifacts found on the ancient sites speak for the long tradition of grape growing. Part of these artifacts are drawings of grapes and vines carved in stone, marble and terracotta and can be seen in the museums in Macedonia, but a large number of these artifacts are now decorating the showcases of museums in Sofia, Belgrade, Berlin and others as well.

In the culture of Ancient Macedonia, which covered a larger geographical area than today’s Republic of Macedonia, wine played an important role. During the time of Philip II and Alexander the Great members of the Macedonian royal family were known as strong consumers of Macedonian wine.

WINES OF MACEDONIA

WINES OF MACEDONIA

Vine in these regions was grown in Roman times too.
Viticulture in that time had an enormous increase. The old Roman road–Via Egnatia, which passed through the Macedonian country, was of great impor¬tance for the development of the viticulture as well as wine production. The wine pro¬duced here was transferred in amphorae to the harbours in Durrës and Thessaloniki.

At the time of the rise of Christianity, wine was part of almost all Orthodox Church ceremonies. The best grapes and wines were produced in the churches and monasteries, though their recipe was kept as the most sacred secret. In Christian reli¬gious customs, the wine is a symbol of Jesus Christ’s blood. Viticulture and wine producing as significant industries keep developing in the Middle Ages, and the evidence are several significant miniatures from the 10th century in the village Vatasa in Tikves region. The originals of several plays in which are seen digging and harvesting grapes, are today in the Vatican library.
During the Ottoman Empire (XIV to XX century) the viticulture and the wine production in Macedonia went through stagnation and changing of the assortments. In this period under the influence of the Muslim religion, most grown varieties are the table varieties

WINES OF MACEDONIA

The first winery of modern ages was opened in 1885 and is today the largest winery (Tikves) in Southeast Europe.

The first winery of modern ages was opened in 1885 and is today the largest winery (Tikves) in Southeast Europe. In this wine cellar, wine had been packed even before the 20th century, and the winery even than had a semi-automatic machine for filling bottles. In 1912 was produced the first wine labeled Tikveš. Before appearance of the the phylloxera on the grapevine somewhere between 1908 and 1914, the population in this region adorably did handle viticulture and wine production, since they got excellent amount of grapes and the growing itself was worthwhile.

As a result of the adverse political and economical circumstances in this period, as well as the emergence of the phylloxera, the viticulture started to decrease.Most of the area with vineyard decayed until 1920.Still, despite this circumstances, vine growers in this region were uniting in the efforts to rebuild the vineyards with grafting of the domestic grapevine on a American bases that were resistant to phylloxera.

WINES OF MACEDONIA

WINES OF MACEDONIA

During the Second World War, viticulture and wine production in this region stagnated again. After the war, significant efforts are made for increasing viticulture since it was economically significant. The first vine¬yards were started with an aim to produce grapevine planting material. At the begin¬ning, people boosted the vineyards in the old, classical manner under the state sector and later, with the help of the modern tech¬nology, the plantations were boosted, too.

In the 60’s and 70’s of the last century, the area covered with vineyards in the central region of Vardar River Valley, Povardarski wine region, was estimated to be around 14.000 ha. While part of ex-Yugoslavia the vineyards were extensively established and in 1981 are registered largest areas 39.000 ha with vine. After this maximum, comes a period of destabilization of this branch by reducing of area with vine as a result of the transformation of society. The changes enable the private sector to become the main carrier of development and modernization of viticulture and wine making in this region.

While part of former Yugoslavia, Macedonia was a major producer of wine, accounting for 2/3 of the Yugoslav production. After the declaration of independence of Republic of Macedonia from Yugoslavia former state owned wineries were privatized and a number of small family owned flourished all over the country.

Tradition and customs

Wine is mentioned in many folk songs, stories, legends, traditions and other elements of the folklore of this region. All chroniclers of Macedonian folk tales which acted in Macedonia in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century mention wine as inevitable part of the folk customs and rituals.

In the wedding customs in the villages and towns in this region, on the groom’s wedding day, when he goes to the house of the bride, her mother brings him a pie, which he is obliged to cut and pour wine over it. Then from the pieces soaked in wine, he gives one to the bride.

According to another wedding custom, during the celebration of engagement, the rings of the couple marrying are placed in a deep dish poured with red wine. The rings then are mixed by the parents of the prospective grooms, and then each of them drinks three sips of the wine in this dish.

Later, few days before the wedding day, the bride’s parents send an older woman to the parents of the groom as a sign of invitation to the wedding. She carries with her a bottle of wine which has wrapped handkerchief around it.

The region Povardarski/Vardar River Valley is known for celebrating the Christian holiday of Sts. Trifun, patron of the wine growers, which is celebrated on the 14th February each year.

On this day, men who own vineyards, gather and prune it, which symbolically marks the beginning of tailoring and the new vegetation. This is done in the presence of religious people who then bless the new generation that is being expected. After the symbolic pruning of the vines, a general merriment starts with drinking wine and singing songs.