Winemaking in "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" has had a tradition of at least 3,500 years from archaeological evidence, and wine was certainly significant in the culture of the Macedonian empire under Alexander the Great. As with many countries in the region, this rich vinous heritage was threatened by the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire, and thereafter by the blight of phylloxera. Arguably a greater threat to wine quality was the state control imposed by Yugoslavia after World War II.
However, despite all these difficulties, Macedonia is now re-establishing itself as a wine producer of interest, with increasing investment in both its vineyards and wineries. In 2012 Macedonia was ranked 28th in the world’s wine-producing countries, producing just over 80 million litres of wine, at least three quarters of which is red. The grapes grown are a mix of international and indigenous varieties.
Red varieties include Vranec (the dominant variety of Macedonia), Kratosija, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. White varieties include Smederevka, Laški Rizling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Žilavka.
The three main wine-growing regions are:
- Povardarie in the proximity of the towns of Negotino and Kavadarci. This is the prime spot for quality wines, and in terms of quantity too.
- Pcinja-Osogovo bordering Bulgaria.
- Pelagonija-Polog, around Lake Ohrid, on the border with Albania.