This was part of the ancient Greece – the land of wine, homeland of Alexander the Great and his father who conquered Greece in 346 BC. In 167 BC Macedonia collapsed and became part of the Roman Empire, however, it remained one of the most important centres of wine production. We know that Macedonian rulers appreciated wine and used to drink it in large quantities. It also played an important role in the Middle Ages.
In the times of Yugoslavia, Macedonia was one of the most significant wine producers of that country. Even in the 1980s, two thirds of the Yugoslavian wine was produced in Macedonia. Once the country collapsed, the production of wine suddenly fell down. At present, however, the number of new investments and modern wine projects is growing. The contemporary Macedonia attempts to compete with the neighbouring wine-growing countries – Bulgaria, Serbia or Greece. This is a mountainous country with Mediterranean and continental climate which favours growing of grapevine. Today, there are around 25 thousand hectares of vineyards. Production of red wines dominates greatly (80%).
In Macedonia the most sophisticated and most important variety is the red vranac. It gives full of colour and aromatic wines. Research on DNA revealed that it is related to the Italian primitivo. Intense, strong and extractive character makes it a great wine for long ripening in barrel. Moreover, in the vineyards we can find cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, kadarka, laški rizling (welschriesling), chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, muscat ottonel, semillon, rkaciteli, traminec. More local character is offered by the red kratosija, prokupec, stanušina and sophisticated white smederevka or žilavka (grown also in Bosnia and Herzegovina) giving brisk and light wines in flower-citrus colours. The local varieties are worth attention as well as the wines made of them are worth tasting for they have a unique character that makes them different from a number of wines available on international markets.
There are three main wine regions in Macedonia – central, the most important region of POvardarie (around Skopje, Vardar Valley, where 85% of the Macedonian wines are made), there is the Tikvesh subregion being the largest and the most distinctive part of the region. The eastern area of Pcinja-Osogovo near the Bulgarian border, as well as the western area of Pelagonija-Polog located around Ohrid Lake and close to the border with Albania.
Among the old and gradually modernized vineyards there are also new and well-equipped enterprises which successfully try their luck in the business. The market becomes more flexible, opened to new trends which results in the improving quality of the produced wine.