Staying in the capitol Skopje, no matter how much it has to offer, is not enough for the adventure seekers; especially when Macedonia has so much more to offer. So, if you are having your stay in Skopje, and are determined to stay a while longer, taking a trip around the Macedonian countryside is something that can enrich you experience tenfold.
While true dining and wine aficionados are always impressed from the menu in almost every restaurant in Skopje, rarely there is someone among them who can refuse a trip to the countryside for wine tasting. Few people know this, but Macedonia once was Yugoslavia’s major producer of wine. Even before that, the royal winery of the Yugoslavian kingdom was placed in the southern region of Macedonia. The trip, though it will take you dozens of miles away from Skopje, is one that is worth taking.
For someone who is quite knowledgeable, and has info about the wine market, it is easy to recognize Macedonia as a quality wine producer. Especially if you take the price into consideration- price quality ratio, and you have a serious contester on the world market.
However, lack of marketing, management, and socialist governing that ended but twenty years ago, it is hard for Macedonian wine to seriously make a move on the world’s stage.
Some would tell you that Macedonian wine is being exported in Italy and packed there, to be sold for higher prices. Rumors or not, it speaks volumes about quality.
But what is even more intriguing than tasting Macedonian wine, is visiting Macedonian vineries that predate the world wars.
A trip through the Macedonian countryside
Many traveling agencies operating in Skopje would offer you a wine tour. The prices are affordable, and the offer is very rich. It usually includes transport to a couple of Macedonian vineries, tasting some aged and high quality wines, appetizers and tour of the property, including getting familiar with wine making machinery.
A decent trip should include Vineries Stobi, Bovin, Tikvesh, Popova Kula, Dudin. Located, most of them, near the region of the river Vardar, called Povardarie.
Mediterranean looking, resembling Californian wine houses, these properties take you back to ancient times and make you feel like you are in roman ages back somewhere in Italy.
You can even stay there for a longer visit, for some, example Popova Kula, offer accommodation as well.
Quality wines in Skopje
And while the trip alone can familiarize you with the best that Macedonia has to offer in terms of wine production, you can still enjoy some quality wine back in Skopje as well.
Places like the Temov wine house, located near the center of the city, right in the middle of the old bazar is perfect for wine tasting along with some traditional Macedonian food.
Ask for red varieties, especially Vranec, and enjoy some of the best wine you’ve ever tasted for a price that is surprisingly low. Zilavka and Temjanika are the white varieties that are very popular in this region too.
While many restaurants will offer you other beverages, like for example rakija (which you better taste as well), wine comes as a default supplement to food.
Skopje is a city of culture, but cuisine as well; along with quality wine, you should try Macedonian specialties as well, most of them inviting eastern influence into the mix. Ottoman dishes are not a rare thing to have in Skopje, and so is some food that has Serbian origin as well- Skopje, being proud for the cultural mix that took place centuries ago, has a lot of diversity to offer. As in culture, as well as in food.