Macedonia is home to over 24,000 hectares of vineyards and a long history of viticulture spanning more than 2,000 years! I had the pleasure of visiting this beautiful country earlier this year to bring you the best of what to see, do and eat.
Also check out our article: Top 10 Things to See and Do in Skopje
Here we’ll explore the three wineries you must visit in the Povardarie Wine Region of Macedonia.
Povardarie: Located in central Macedonia in the fertile Vardar River Valley. The wines from Povardarie are known to be of excellent quality and are distributed all over the world. The two main varieties found here are Vranec and Smederevka. Vranec is a red grape that produces a medium-bodied ruby-red wine with hints of strawberry and wild berries.
Vranec pairs nicely with grilled and smoked meats. Smederevka is one of the oldest varieties found in the Balkans. It is a fruity sweet white table wine that goes well with green salads, cheese, and fish, especially on hot days. It can also be mixed with soda and served as a spritzer.
Pčinja-Osogovo: Located in eastern Macedonia, this region produces international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay Noir, and Pinot Noir, among many others. It also produces Zilavka, a well-known Balkan white wine that is dry and full-bodied, and best served with appetizers, seafood, pasta, poultry dishes, cheese, and desserts.
Pelagonija-Polog: Located in western Macedonia, the Pelagonija-Polog region is responsible for producing 13% of the country’s wine. A variety of wines are made here, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Vranec, Riesling, Chardonnay, Zilavka, and Prokupec. Prokupec is a Balkan grape that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. It is commonly used for blending to produce rosé, Syrah, and Pinot Noir, but can also be served on its own. It has a ruby-red color and contains hints of sour cherry. It pairs well with light appetizers, pasta, and vegetables.
Wineries You Must Visit in the Povardarie Wine Region
The Povardarie Wine Region is a well-known tourist destination. Visitors will find it easy to arrange tours to the wineries for tastings, elegant dining experiences, and overnight stays at different winery hotels.
Popova Kula Winery is consistently being named as one of the best wineries in Macedonia. This handsome estate offers dining, hotel accommodations, sightseeing tours, cooking lessons, and folklore shows. But what everybody goes for is the wine tasting. The Popova Kula vineyards are located on the south slopes of Mount Veliko Brdo in the Tikvesh sub-region of the Povardarie Wine Region. Here, over 20 wines are produced: Vranec, Prokupec, Tamjanika, Merlot, Zilavka, Chardonnay, Stanushina, and more.
Stanushina is a grape exclusively grown in Macedonia and is known to produce high-quality wine with hints of strawberry, raspberry, and other fruity notes. Popova Kula sells a red and rosé version, and is the only producer of Stanushina in the world.
Visiting Popova Kula Winery for a tasting is a must-do for any wine lover. Email [email protected].
Winery Tikves is the largest and most awarded winery in Macedonia. Winery Tikves has been in business for over 125 years and produces more than 24 types of wine, of which the most sought-after are Traminec, T’ga za jug (a type of Vranec), Chardonnay, Alexandria Cuvée (a line of blended wines), and the famous Tikves brandy, Lozova Rakija.
Tikves also produces a line of Terroir wines (Terroir is how a particular region’s climate, soils and terrain affect the taste of wine. Some regions are said to have more ‘terroir’ than others.) These include their Barovo and Bela Voda brands – both of which are made by combining different varieties.
Winery Tikves offers wine tours and tastings (minimum 2 days advanced reservation is required). The wine cellar is open to visitors Monday – Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can also make dining reservations at the Tikves Winery Restaurant.
Stobi Winery is another winery located in the Tikvesh sub-region of the Povardarie Wine Region. It gets its name from the nearby ancient city of Stobi. Stobi has more than 600 hectares of vineyard that produce both red and white varieties including Zilavka, Muscat Ottonel, Shiraz, and Petit Verdot.
Stobi has four wine labels – Premium, Classic, Elite, and Traditional to suit every taste. Some of their wines are Syrah (Premium), Stobi Cuvée (Classic), Rosé Allegro (Elite), and Makedonsko Belo (Traditional).
It is highly recommended to book a lunch at the restaurant, where you’ll get to sample Stobi’s many wines and enjoy traditional Macedonian dishes and desserts. We recommend the Stobi Wine & Dine Tour (120 minutes) that includes a tour of the winery with an expert guide and a sampling of appetizers, meats, cheeses, and wines. Email [email protected] to book a tour.
Best Time to Visit
The Ohrid Summer Festival in July and August is very popular with tourists, but the high temperatures and crowds can prove to be too stressful for some travelers.
Macedonian summers are hot and winters are cold and wet, so we recommend visiting during the shoulder season when the weather is mild (mid-April to June and September to October).
If you are planning a trip for September you are in luck. This is when the grape harvest takes place in Povardarie. The town of Kavadarci hosts the Festival of Wine and Grapes “Tikveski Grozdober” every year during the first week of September. This four-day annual event marks the beginning of the grape harvest in the Tikves region. Festivities include concerts, folklore shows, wine presentations, wine tastings, food stalls, shops, and carnival-like procession through he main streets of Kavadarci.
So there you have my picks for the best wineries you must visit in the Povardarie Wine Region. I had the pleasure of visiting each one, sampling their amazing products, and getting to know the dedicated wine makers behind the scenes. Macedonia may not be the world’s most illustrious wine producer, but its wines are rich and full of flavor – the result of more than two millennia of practice to get them just right!
If you have ant suggestions for wineries to visit in Povardarie or any other of Macedonia’s wine regions, please leave us a comment below!