The untamed temper from the South

May 23, 2023

Surprising new wines from North Macedonia to be tasted at ProWein 2022

Svetozar Janevski, President of „Wines of Macedonia“ describes the current situation of North Macedonia’s wine industry in one sentence: „We are still considered mainly as a bulk wine producer, although the percentage of bottled wines increases continuously, we are exporting to 40 different countries and our premium wines are winning more than 100 medals every year in the most prestigeuos competitions in the world.“ The only way to lift up international reputation to the level Macedonian wines do deserve, so Janevski, is consequent work on profile, brand and image for the small landlocked Balkan country. Motto: „The untamed temper from the South“.

To conquer foreign markets, the 12 Macedonian wineries present at ProWein 2022 (Hall 11 B12) are primarily setting on their indigenous grape variety Vranec – the so called „Black Stallion“. Wild and full of character, the Vranec wines are easy to detect amongst others: deep purple colour, black berries fruit, notes of spices and dark chocolate, firm tannins and fresh acidity, mostly coming with 15 degrees of alcohol or even more. No doubt: Vranec is the star in North Macedonia – but with Kratoshija, Temjanika, Stanushina, Smederevka & Co. Are many other indigenous grape varieties waiting to be discovered.

At ProWein 2022, Wines of Macedonia want to showcase its huge vinological heritage to traders, importers, HoReCa representatives and journalists. Therefore they have recruited top experts to help them out, including Caroline Gilby MW, Peter McCombie MW and the American wine journalist Darrel Joseph, who will give masterclasses in English at the “Wines of Macedonia” booth. Thomas Brandl will present award winning Macedonian wines from Mundus Vini spring tasting 2022 at a masterclass in German at Meininger’s booth A20 in hall 4.

The main challenge faced by the “Wines of Macedonia” association, founded in 2010, is to help the country acquire the recognition as a quality wine producer that it deserves. Achieving this involves holding joint promotional events and participating in leading international trade fairs such as ProWein in Düsseldorf. Sixty percent of Macedonian wine is still sold as open goods, and Germany remains the biggest bulk wine buyer. The Yugoslavian successor states of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia continue to dominate in terms of the destination of bottled wine exports – followed by Russia, China, Kosovo, Montenegro, Poland and the USA. Eighty-five percent of the wine produced by the 122 registered wineries, covering an area of over 28,000 hectares, is exported to 40 countries. Positive evolution: The value of exports of bottled wine has doubled between 2011 and 2021 from 14,7 to 28,7 million Euros. And the bag-in-box sector is also developing well.

In North Macedonia, Vranec grows on 10,800 ha, around one third of the country’s vineyards. This is a significantly higher figure than in Serbia, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Kosovo and Montenegro (latter the original home of Vranec). In total, 28 grape varieties are cultivated in the seven wine regions Skopje, Veles, Ovce Pole, Tikveš, Gevgelija-Valandovo, Strumica- Radoviš and Kochani-Vinica. In the grape ranking white Smederevka is second with 7.500 hectars predominately used for producing the local grapa called ‘rakija’, followed by Merlot (1.240), Cabernet Sauvignon (1.140), Kratoshija (1.050), Rheinriesling (990) und Chardonnay (818).

It’s not a wonder that the small country of North Macedonia now has one of the best ratios between samples and medals in international wine competitions. At the jubilee 30th edition of Mundus Vini 2022 spring tasting for example, Macedonian wineries won 26 medals. Most of these wines can be tasted during ProWein 2022.

The Macedonian wine industry consists of big operators like Tikveš, No. 1 producer in South Eastern Europe, as well as smaller companies and boutique wineries. All of them invested a lot in modern new technology and advanced practice in vineyard management, including continuous consultancy by professionals from abroad. Still more than 90% of the grapes are hand harvested. The fact that Puklavec Family Wines, a family business from Slovenia, has invested heavily in a brand-new winery in the deep south of former Yugoslavia some years ago shows the great potential they see in the vineyards.

All twelve businesses that will be present on the Wines of Macedonia stand at ProWein 2020 have made major investments in the latest cellar and vineyard technology in recent years, and now produce wines of the highest international standard. Just to name them: Tikves, Stobi, Bovin, Chateau Kamnik, Dalvina, Ezimit, Movino, GD Tikves, Imako, Popov, Venec and Puklavec Family Wines And what about the future prospects of this small Balkan country with its 2 million inhabitants and 25.700 square kilometers surface in terms of international recognition for its untamed tempers? – Svetozar Janevski, President of Wines of Macedonia and co-owner of Tikveš, is convinced that North Macedonia has a bright future in front. Janevski considers the rise of Barolo over the past 35 years to be a role model for Vranec: “In the 1980ies they stood where we are now. And the whole world has seen their success story.” Central aim for the future year is to give more focus on developing Protected Designation of Origin from the different wine districts and to put the focus more on sustainable viticulture and wine production, says Janevski.


Registration for masterclasses: