Already two months since I start my EVS (European Volunteers Service) in Skopje, Macedonia… and I still didn’t discover more than the capital and its canyon Matka. I came from the south of France, a region well known for its production of wine and vineyards, especially Bandol wines. I’m very interested by this heritage and worked for several summers in the wine industry.
One of my macedonian coworker told me about Macedonian Wineries, on the south east of the country, she said they produce wines but also offers to sleep and eat there, and try the different wines during your stay! I was so curious about this concept I decided to give it a try. Popova Kula in Demir Kapija is one of the well known winery of the country, and just an 1:30h car ride from Skopje. I took the opportunity of a few days touring Macedonia to visit this well known winery, and I was surely not disappointed!
Demir Kapija is perfectly situated for the wine production, a great climate (more than 200 days of sun a year !), and a great soil made for grape growing. We arrive there under a beautiful sunset lighting the vinyards, such a perfect decor to enjoy our relaxing weekend. Colorful mountains of Veliko Brdo, some snow remaining from the previous days, and the 20 hectares of grapevines of the Popova Kula winery.
During the day, the winery organise free wine tour to discover the cave. We decide to participate when we arrived. One of the guide (speaking french!) made us visit the famous Popov tower, the caves and told us a few anecdotes about the winery and its philosophy.
We learn there than the famous tower, « the » Popova Kula (understand : Priest’s Tower) which appears on the logo and on the winery entrance, was build on the few years ago, on the same spot of ancient one, that served as important checkpoint on the ancient Roman road. It has since been destroyed and the owners of Popova Kula winery decided to erect a new 17m high tower and keep the tower name for the winery.
After a quick break in our lovely hotel room – every room owns the name and the color of a wine variety – we went to have diner in the Popova Kula restaurant, situated right inside the winery.
The restaurant propose matching food and wines menu and give you permanent advices on how to accord the wine to your meal. We choose a menu according around different white wines. The entry was a ceasar salad, served with a Temjanika a wine specially from Bosnia Herzegovina. The main course pastas with leak sauce and a glass of Chardonnay Barrique and for desert, a delicious raspberry cheesecake with a glass of Muscat.
The restaurant is nice and calm and between every meal the sommelier came to explain us the wine choosed, (really nice for wine beginners like us !)
In the morning we had a look at the wine shop where you can buy very unique Popova Kula wines like the ones from Stanushina, a unique Macedonian grape variety. But also balkans wines like Prokupec, Zilavka, Temjanika or Vranec. They believe that supporting local economy is essential. I can say I found great gifts there for my christmas presents in France !
We didn’t have time to explore all the Popova Kula activities but know that they also propose rock climbing, bike renting and tours, macedonian cooking classes or walks around the Doshnica River…
This really short stay at the Popova Kula winery was really rewarding and relaxing. I had the opportunity to learn much more about the cultural richness of Macedonia and about the wines wich made it famous, I will surely come again !
by Juliette Caron