About the wines

Balkan wines and wine regions

The Balkan peninsula is a regional cultural area in Eastern Europe comprising of some of the world's oldest wine producers. The Balkans takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that run from the border of Bulgaria and Serbia to the Black Sea. There is an important viticultural tradition here that dates back centuries. 

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Macedonian wines and wine regions

Macedonia produces wine on some 22,400 hectares (55,000 acres) of vineyards, and statistically the production was 108,100 tonnes in 2008. There are also some additional 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of vineyards dedicated to table grapes. Red wine dominates the Macedonian wine production, with around 80 per cent. 

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White wines in the Balkans


This grape is a rumored relation of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. While that relation has neither been affirmed nor disproven, it is interesting to note the grape’s etymology. Tamjan is a Slavic word for frankincense. This name was applied to the grape as the resulting wines displayed a spicy, piquant nose

Native to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zilavka grape was one of the most widely-planted white grapes in the Balkan Peninsula. Over the years, it fell somewhat out of favor with winemakers. Today, it is a minor blending grape found throughout Macedonia, Slovenia, and Croatia.


The Serbian Milijan Jelic winery boasts the only vineyard of the Tamuz Morava grape in the world. The Morava grape is a cross of Rhine Riesling and clones of local varieties. The winery is still investigating the origins of this indigenous grape.


The first written data about Istrian Malvazija surfaced in conjunction with the 1891 Zagreb wine exposition. Malvazija was next seen in 1900 in documents published simultaneously in two different cities on the Istrian Peninsula (Pican and Piran). This green-skinned grape quickly grew in popularity, and, 100 years later, is responsible for apple and white flowers.


This is probably the best-known Greek grape internationally, based entirely on the reputation established by one tiny island in the Cyclades - Santorini. Santorini’s grey sand-like volcanic soil is so poor that almost nothing will grow – except for this supremely hardy grape, which produces exquisitely fresh, lime-infused whites, with laser-like mineral intensity.


It is an ancient variety of grape that is indigenous to Montenegro. A high quality dry white wine is made from it. The wine may be rich, of harmonious bouquet and of light yellow color with 12.5% alcohol. 

Red wines in the Balkans


Prokupac is one of the Balkan Peninsula’s most widely planted red grapes, though, curiously, it is not always used to make deeply hued wines. Because of this grape’s proclivity for high sugar levels, it is often used to make high-quality brandies. Several winemakers discovered that, when macerated for a short time, this grape could display refined, elegant red fruit aromas in rose wines. Finally, after years of experimentation, several high-quality winemakers turned this grape into an age worthy wine with layers of complexity.


The Teran grape, or Terrano as it is called in Italy, belongs to the Refosco family of grapes. Refosco is one of the world's oldest grape families, and Teran is no exception. Within this family, the Teran grape was found to have adapted specifically to the Terra Rossa soils of the Istrian Peninsula. Here, iron-rich clay-based soils work to maintain acidity while developing high levels of ripeness. The resulting wines show Refosco's characteristic black berry aromas with a hint of amaro and eucalyptus. When macerated for a short period, this grape can make beautifully-nuanced rose wines, but when macerated fully, it makes for a lusciously rich, food-friendly red wine;


This ancient and indigenous grape Kallmet is one of the best known red grape varieties in Albania.
Kallmet generally yields between two to three small clusters of big grapes and is purple red in color.
It is considered to be a highly productive grape variety, early ripening and generally considered to be a consistent performer during less favorable weather conditions. The grape ripens during the middle of August and is harvested at 23 to 25 Brix (measured sugar content). Historically, Kallmet has been cultivated in the hilly area of Zadrima and in the vicinity of Shkoder Lake. Today it is cultivated in Malesi e Madhe, Shkoder, Lezhe, Kurbin, and Miredite.


It is a red wine, made from blue wine grapes, coming from the region of Dalmatia. The region around Sibenik is the area where these grapes grow and this wine is characterized with strong density and full-bodied taste. Babic wines have traces of dark berries, plums and figs, as well as distinct spices. Maturation in barrels enhances the wine`s longevity and its spicy taste.


It is a traditional Bulgarian red grape variety. It is one of the oldest and considered one of the most valuable local varieties of the highest quality. The wines from Mavrud usually have a saturated crimson ruby color, sufficient content of tannins and acidity and pronounced density. The flavor is quite specific, juicy, with notes of blackberries, overripe mulberries, spices. These wines develop excellently in contact with oak whereby they obtain rich, complex aroma and deep, harmonious taste. The Mavrud wines have also very good aging potential.

White wines in Macedonia


The leading grape variety for production of white wines in Macedonia is Smederevka. It’s supposed to originate from Serbia, nevertheless, its origin is not precisely confirmed. This variety is one of the oldest in the Balkans, and it is mostly situated in the areas with grapevine plantations for white wine varieties in almost all wine districts in Macedonia. It produces white wines with fruity aromas, low in alcohol, best drunk young. Smederevka is a table wine and is best served at a temperature of 8-10°С with light appetizers, white meat, cheese, fish and green seasonal salads.


Wonderful yellow-greenish color, with a powerful and pleasant, flower-fruity aroma of peach, apple, limetree. Dry, brackish, lively and pleasantly sourish, long-lasting, with fruity finish. It is ideally served at 10-12°C with cold appetitezers, seafood, asparagus, green salads.


This variety originates from Sebia as a result of interbreeding of the varieties Prokupec and Pinot Noir. It is a local Balkan variety and created as a new breed it has spread rapidly in Serbia and Macedonia. Zupjanka variety is characteristics for its acid content: it contains more apple than wine acid. The wines are characterized by freshness, fullness and gentle wine bouquet. The wines crispness makes it a delicious accompaniment to fresh seafood, oysters on the half shell, or grilled Mediterranean vegetables.


In Macedonia, it can be mostly found in Skopje, Veles and Tikves districts, with a tendency of further spreading. It ripens at the beginning of September in the Tikves vineyards, and determining the opti¬mal date for harvest is of exceptional signifi¬cance for the quality of wine production. The Macedonian wines from Chardonnay variety generally have two characteristic styles. The first one is characterized by its fresh¬ness and fruity aromas dominate, like apple, citrus and banana. The second style is characterized by the oak taste as a result of the ripening in oak barrels. The flowery and spicy aromas are dominant in this style. It can be stated that Chardonnay is the happiest combination of all the varieties: Macedonian viticulturists want to grow it, the wineries want to manufacture it and everybody wants to drink it.

Sauvignon Blanc

In Macedonia, it can be found in Skopje, Kumanovo, Tikves and Ovcepole districts, and in smaller areas it can be notices in other vineyards, too. In Skopje vineyards ripens at the begin-ning of September and is abundant in vine. The identity that Sauvignon possess¬es comes from its vegetative and herbal aroma that originates from the pyrazines, compounds characteristic for this variety. Depending on the clone, climate conditions and the usage of ampelo-technical measures, the aroma can vary significantly. This variety grown under the Macedonian sun gives high quality dry white wine characterized by yellow-green colour, a fresh herbal scent and harmonious flavour, complemented with aromas of mango and grapefruit.


The Herzegovina variety comes from the suburbs around Mostar. The grape is juicy and sweet and beautifully refreshing with a fruity flavor and aroma that produces top quality wines. The wines have got intense and gentle varietal smell and taste. The wine produced from Zilavka has definitely an aroma that is characteristic for this breed. This dry white wine has a full body and is best served at temperature of 10 to 12 degrees, and can be consumed with seafood, pasta, white meat, cheese, appetizers based on cheese, and with desserts.


The old Georgian variety is introduced in Macedonia around 1950s mostly planted in Vardar River Valley region. In the Skopje wine district it ripens in the middle of September. The wines are characterized by harmony, freshness and distinctive varietal flavor. It is suitable for blend of wines, which have insufficient acid. The Macedonian wines from R’kaciteli variety are characterized with golden yellow to green colour and fresh fruity flavors of apple, pear, apricot, mango, peach, grapefruit and pineapple. It is ideally served at 8-10оC with neutral cheese, prosciutto, white meat, green salads.


Teran is an indigeous Slovenian wine. Its distinctive traits are intensive dark ruby red color, special fruit bouqet, fulness of aroma, higher concentration of lactic acid than in other wines and high extract. Teran has a moderate alcohol level, typically higher total acids and lactic acid, that gives the wine its velvety softness. In comparison with other red wines, it has typically higher concentrations of polyphenol substances.

Muscat Hamburg

It is made from Hamburg-Muscat grapes that are harvested at the peak of ripeness in the Strumicko-Radovisko region of South-Eastern Macedonia. A semi-dry medium bodied quality red wine with bright red colour. A characteristic muscat bouquet with a sweet taste. Best served with a meal at 14-16 degrees Celsius.


The name itself, incense, means strong, intense smell of thyme. Temjanika wine simply paints your day with the joyful colours of flowers and fruits. It is supposed to originate from the Middle East and it can be rendered under many synonyms depending on the place where it is grown. This variety represents one of the oldest and ultimately wide-spread varieties in the world. The primary name according to OIV is the Muscat Blanc a Petit Grains. The juice is colorless with an intense Muscat aroma. The Macedonian Temjanika has an intense yellowish-gold color with nuances of green and highly complex and odorous scents. Main aromas are those of Muscat and are spicy; fruit scents of peach, apricot, dry plum and orange are dominant at the beginning, while the flavour of basil and incense follow later. The Temjanika wine is served at a temperature of 10-12 degrees, and can be consumed with light food, white meat, seafood and desserts.

Red wines in Macedonia


Vranec (the most common variety of Macedonia). The word Vranec means strong, black and powerful horse (black stallion), and wine made from this grape variety is associated with strength, potency, and success. Vranec also means raven coloured or black, which is why the wine is known also as black wine in Macedonia. Vranec is a local, Balkan variety and its wines represent the character of the people who live in these areas – warm–blooded and strong. It is assumed that it was created by natural crossbreeding or as a result of spontaneous mutations. It has been grown for a long time in Montenegro, and it also can be found in Dalmacija, Herzegovina, but in Macedonia it’s the most important and leading variety for red wine production, representing, at the same time, the type of the Macedonian red wines. The Macedonian wine from Vranec variety has an intense, dark red colour. It exhibits a varietal and rich scent with aroma of ripe fruits. The taste is full, with gentle structure and harmony. The young wines have a light purple color, with an aroma of strawberry jam and wild berries and firm tannins structure with potential to ripe in oak barrels. When the mellowing is finished, they provide quality, cultivating complex aroma of dry fruit and cocoa. This wine has a harmony of complex aromas similar to wild berries, rich tannins, chocolate and liquor. Holding the specific impression of terroir, the Vranec wines are said to be a unique brand for the Macedonian type of wines on a global level. The Vranec wine pairs well with all Macedonian dishes, as well as with red meat, game, barbeque and smoked meat.


Kratoshija is a variety of grape that has a long history in Macedonia. It’s believed that within Macedonia’s territory it has been grown since ancient times, when wine was poured in amphora and sent to the noblemen. The latest news in terms of its origin is an intrigue that brought certain polemics among the scientific mass. For a clearer and more vivid explanation of the bond among all these varieties, the story has to begin from scratch. The quest for the origin of one of the favorite American varieties, Zinfandel, is one of the most interesting stories about vines and wines. It was undoubtedly that Zinfandel originated from Europe, but the enigma that this variety could not be found in Europe remained. It was supposed to be brought in America from the royal collection in Vienna, Austria in 1820. However, Zinfandel is not an autochthon Austrian variety. An important turnover for solving the puzzle happened in 1967 when it was accidentally discovered that the variety Zinfandel is similar to the local, Italian variety from the region Puglia, known as Primitivo, which was later scientifically proved that it is the very same variety. Still, Primitivo was nowhere mentioned as an autochthon Italian variety, so the enigma remained unsolved again. On the other side of the Adriatic Sea, the most interesting variety similar to Zinfandel was Plavec. It is sustained by genetic identification that Zinfandel is unexpectedly one of the descendants of the Dalmatia variety Plavec. This discovery had a great publicity to professionals and the general public in the entire world. The question that followed was which the Croatian Zinfandel was indeed. After years of seeking for different Zinfandel varieties, they reached to the variety called Crljenak Kaštelanski, or Tribidrag, and finally the DNA analysis proved that this is the exact source variety. Nowadays, the story also includes Kratoshija, putting Macedonia in the eye of the publicity, since it is the country where this variety is grown by this name. It is quite a versatile variety from the wine style’s point of view: from easy and fruity (Beaujolais style), through high percentage of alcohol wines, to sophisticated, complex wines and wines worth for ripening (Bordeaux style). Generally, however, the best wines are the dry wines with light red colour and violet hue, relatively high percentage of alcohol, a little extract, reasonable amount of acids and a fruity aroma that in time will eventually get spicy nuance. It is best combined with all types of barbequed meat and piquant cheese. To end, the fact that Zinfandel, Primitivo, Crljenak Kastelanski and Kratoshija are the same variety known by different names is indisputable. Still, when grown in different climate and soil conditions, regardless of its name, it produces specific wines that characterize the vineyard where it is grown.

Merlot finally arose from the Cabernet Sauvignon’s shadow and found the place in the prestige club of international varieties in Macedonia that was long ago deserved. In Macedonia, it started being grown in the 1950s as a quite perspective variety for the climate conditions. Nowadays, it can be found in Skopje, Kumanovo, Veles, Tikves, Ovcepole, Ohrid and Bitola wine districts. It ripens in the second half of September in the Tikves vineyards, at least a week before Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine has got deep, ruby to dark red colour. The aroma complex is rich with plumb, blueberry, green pepper and men¬thol, as well as vanilla and chocolate. In the cooler Macedonian vineyards like those in Ohrid and Bitola, Merlot makes wine with more herbal aroma while in warmer climates like in Veles and Tikves districts, the aroma of dry fruit and spices dominates. It is suitable for ripening in oak barrels that later make complex, full wines. The wine produced from grape from old plantations has greater specifications. One of the characteristics of Merlot variety when grown in the warmer climates in Macedonia is that in short time it can over ripen just a few days after it has reached its full ripe. Some experts recommend earlier harvest to keep the level of acids and enlarge the potential for its preservation. According to others, the over ripen grape will give body and better quality of the wine.

Pinor Noir

In Macedonia, it can be found in Veles, Kumanovo, Ovcepole, Bitola and other wine districts. It ripens at the beginning of Sep¬tember in the Veles vineyards. The cluster is small, cylindrical, long and compressed. The berry is small, dark blue coloured and with thin skin. The Black Burgundy is a lively variety that is hard to be resisted. The young wines are characterized by easy, fruity aroma and as they ripen their taste turns to game animals or becomes spicy as a black truffle. The Macedonian Pinot Noir is a wine of terrific elegance and complexity, rich yet linear; pretty, but with depth and power.


Rich in tannin, the Syrah variety is a challenge for the best Macedonian wine makers. The wine that comes out of this variety needs quite some time and energy to show all of its elegance, luxuriance and greatness. In Macedonia, it is successfully grown in Skopje, Tikves, Strumica–Radovish and Gevgelija–Valandovo wine districts, with a tendency of spreading due to the greater inter¬est for this variety. It ripens towards the end of September in the Skopje vineyards. This abundant variety has got great vegetative expansion. In Macedonia, the best results are gained from regions that have warm, but not too dry climate and well-lighted expositions. The wine is characterized by ruby red color, full of extracts, powerful body and alcohol, and with expressed tannin. The aroma of reddish forest fruits and chocolate with a hint of black pepper is typical for Syrah wine made in Macedonia

Plavec Mali

This Croatian variety that originates from Dalmatia is commonly used for production of quality red wines in Macedonia where it is represented on limited areas in the Veles, Tikves and Ovcepole wine districts. The variety requires warm climate with long and warm autumn and in In Veles vineyars it ripen in the middle of October. The wines contain 11-12 vol. % alcohol and 7-8g/L total acid. They are characterized by strong color, freshness and tartness. Is suitable for blending with colored and sufficiently weak wines and in Macedonia is usually blended with Vranec that gives wines with cocoa and wild black fruit aromas as well as a rich fruity structure.

Stanusina Red

(a unique variety of grape of Macedonian origin). This Macedonian indigenous variety is something that you would not be able to find in any other place in the world. It is also known as Gradesh and Black Stanushina. Stanushina originates from the Tikves wine district where it is mostly widespread. Before the appearance of phylloxera, it was the main variety in this region and it characterized the sort of strong, red, Tikves wines. The main feature of this variety is its durability. Stanushina is an old variety that has been grown in the Tikves vineyards for a longer period of time. The color of the wine made of Stanushina is characteristically pale, but it has a rich extract and high acidity level which give the wine an exquisite freshness. People with refined taste adore this wine and never miss the opportunity to grab a bottle of wine for themselves when visiting Macedonia. The wine has an intense aroma of strawberry, raspberry, and the fruity notes are best enjoyed when the wine is consumed young at 10 to 16°C. It’s an excellent choice to combine it with light and creamy puddings. The main features of the wine are mostly expressed when served with lettuce, sarma (Balkan dish), stuffed bell peppers or some light dishes.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Dry red wine with a deep purple-red colour, discreet red fruit aromas of sour cherry, raspberry with undertones of sweet spices. This full-bodied wine has smooth tannins and a distinctively elegant finish. Pairs exquisitely with red meat as well as with full-fat cheese at 16-18˚C;

Balkan wineries

Bellow we listed some of the important wineries in the Balkans, some of them included in our tours. You can visit their web-sites by clicking on the buttons.

Macedonian wineries

In Macedonia there are more than 80 wineries, some of them are also part of our tours. You can visit their web-sites below, by clicking the buttons.