Friday, July 23, 2010
Last week my nephew Clark visited and I had the chance to show him Macedonia. After a day and a half at Ohrid, we headed over to the wine road, making a few stops along the way. Macedonia was a huge wine growing area before the Ottomans moved in and pretty much did away with it except for what farmers made for themselves. But after the Turks left, wine came back. For many years they produced bulk reds that they exported to Germany, but now things are changing. In the last 5 years big money has been pouring into the Macedonian wineries, and they are developing a reputation for their own wines and varietals.
We stayed at a new winery called Popuva Kula, which sits up on a hill and looks over the valley and vineyards of Dimar Kapija. We had big, delicious breakfasts out on the veranda, savoring our coffee and conversation. Then we set out for the two wineries we would visit. The first was started by the King of Serbia before WWI. Knowing Macedonia's history, he wanted to impress his friends by producing fine wines to give to them, and built a summer home in the valley. He named the winery after his wife - Vinarija. We did not degustate there, and it's a good thing. In Macedonia, you only can do one degustation a day.(Don't you love that word - here they don't use the word tasting, the degustate!) Next we stopped in a Tikves, the biggest winery in Macedonia. While it still produces wines that you uncork by flipping off a bottle cap, they are now gearing up to become a serious winery and tourist destination.
For 10 euros a piece, you get the plate of cheeses and meats above plus several glasses of wine. 4 of us officially paid, but the winemaster gave everyone in our party, including the taxi driver, wine, and we shared the food among all 7 of us. When you sample wines, they don't give you small sips - you drink glasses. We had 6 or 7 different wines, then they gave us some rakija, which is their distilled wine - like whiskey - and then we topped it off with an after dinner drink. We were laughing and giggling and having a great time - turned out the winemaster was our guide's 3rd cousin that she hadn't seen in 12 years! Macedonia is a small country. When we finished, it must have been about 1 pm, and feeling no pain, we headed to a swimming hold by a cold spring in a local river. We spent the afternoon cooling off by the river, then walked back through the woods to an amazing restaurant where we feasted on some delicious fish, pork and chicken, along with salads and other goodies. It was the most incredible day. So everyone out there, come to Macedonia and enjoy the good life!
Posted by Candice Wiggum at 7:31 AM