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Tikves region

The region of Tikves, or the wine heart of Macedonia, has through the centuries been indisputably identified with its viniculture, good wine and grape brandy (rakija).

Be a part of the centuries-long tradition and visit the wine regions, the old brick and cob-walled houses made with wine, the neighbourhood inns, the archaeological sites... Taste the wine in the wineries of the region and find out more about...

...The ancient Macedonians who inhabited this area, lovingly grew grapevines, and worshipped Dionysus, the god of wine, revelry and fertility with a special devotion. Confirmation of this is found in the copious representations of grapes and vines carved in stone, marble and terracotta that can be seen in Kavadarci and Negotino, and in the museums of Belgrade, Sofia and Berlin.

At the time of Roman rule in this area, Bacchus the god of wine was celebrated twice a year with great bacchanalias. The magnificent marble slabs unearthed in the vicinity of Kavadarci, in the renowned wine-growing region called Belgrade (referred to in the famous folk song "Biljana was whitening cloth", where winemakers from Belgrade approach the girl), contain picturesque representations of the festive bacchanalias in honour of Bacchus. In those ancient times people held wine in special esteem as a drink for all classes, for the rich and for the poor. Wine was also used as a means of payment, and even taxes could be paid with wine.

Grape-growing as a significant branch of agriculture continued to develop in the Middle Ages, as is confirmed by several important miniatures dating from the early 10th century found in the village of Vatasha showing work in vineyards and harvesting. These miniatures are now kept in the Vatican Library.

The first winery was built in 1885 by Aleksandar Velkov of Kavadarci, and the first educated oenologist was Pane Velkov. The annual quantity of wine produced at that time was between 80 and 90 litres.

Fran Tuchan, Croatian geologist and travel-writer of the beginning of the 20th century, wrote that at the entrance to the town of Kavadarci he had seen a caravan of horses and camels transporting wine in wineskins.

For many years the Kamilarovi Family of Strumica served the grape growers and wine merchants with the transport of wine by camel, usually on the route from Thessalonica to Southern Serbia.

In his recollections, the priest Shako of the village of Resava emphasizes that Resava produced wine of such excellent quality that it could be packed in cloth. In the years of extremely good yield, when there was so much wine people did not know what to do with it, dwellings were made with wine instead of water, for it was believed that the wine would make them stronger. Remains of this type of houses can still be seen in the village of Resava.

At that time several varieties of grapevine were grown in the Tikvesh Region: Nikodinka, Nishavka, the Tikvesh Grapevine, Mustenik, Malvazija, Parmak and some others. In Kavadarci alone, more than 500 cartloads of grapes were processed into wine and some 800 cartloads were exported.

Grape-growing as a centuries-old tradition has been preserved in the customs and the everyday life of each and every family in this area. In accordance with this tradition, every family has barrels for wine and grape brandy (rakija) and brandy stills. It is a local custom to prune at least one vine on the feast of the Day of St. Trifun. With a blessing for a fruitful year, the vine is watered with red wine and rakija, and to complete the ritual there is always a bunch of thyme and bread. The celebration then continues with songs and the drinking of wine and rakija.

The Tikves Region cherishes the tradition of neighbourhood celebrations of St. Trifun's Day, and nowadays in the inns there are also mass celebrations which are regularly accompanied by music, song and dance. Grape preserves, Madjun and Rachel made of must and grape juice, are a speciality made in every house in the Tikves Region. Visitors at the time of harvest and on other occasions are served wine and sweets made of grapes and must.
These traditions and customs have also led to the development of a variety of grape harvesting events, wine fairs and carnivals.