Greek Macedonia is also known as Makedonia and is a large wine region in the north of Greece. This wine region is bordered by Bulgaria, Albania and the Republic of Macedonia, as well as the Aegean Sea in the south. Macedonia is best known for its magnificent red wines that are known for their firm tannins and huge flavour. Viticulture in Macedonia has been well established for thousands of years. Ceramics and coins found in the region dating back to the 5th century BC show that wine production took place during this time and were exported from here to various locations across the Mediterranean.
Macedonia is an extensive wine making region located in the north of Greece. This history of wine making in this region stretches back to the 5th century BC in the classical period. Macedonian Amphorae from this time have been found across Europe and the Mediterranean indicating that the wines from this region were exported to these locations during this time. Historical evidence shows that the production of wine in Macedonia continued into the Byzantine era, particularly along the Halkidiki Peninsula where the monks living on Mount Athos began to cultivate wines. During the Ottoman rule in Greece, wine production in Macedonia slowed down dramatically and only began to pick up again in the 19th century.
The vineyards of Macedonia are planted mainly in mountainous regions where the climate has both continental and Mediterranean influences. This results in long, hot summers and cold winters.
The vines of Macedonia perform extremely well in the rocky mountain soils. In these soils, fertility is low but there is excellent natural drainage that provides the perfect environment for the plants. Despite this, there are certain areas in Macedonia where alluvial soils are low and there are more rolling landscapes with more fertile soils. This is most commonly found in the eastern parts of Greek Macedonia.
The Sub-Regions of Macedonia
Within the wine making region of Macedonia there are several Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) alongside the regions Protected Designated of Origin areas. The first PDO is Amynteo which was established in 1972 and which is located in the southeastern section of the Florina district, on the plateau of Amynteo. This PDO is the northernmost PDO of Greece and has the highest elevation of all of the country’s PDOs. In this region the most commonly cultivated grape varietal is Xinomavro. The PDO Naousa is situated in the picturesque town of Naousa, overlooking the Gulf of Thermaikos. In this region the most ancient Macedonian vineyards can be found. The PDO Goumenissa was established in 1979 and lies in the southeastern foothills of Mount Paiko. This PDO is the smallest of the Macedonia region.
The main types of wines that are produced in Macedonia are dry, medium dry and medium sweet white; dry, medium, dry and medium sweet rose; and dry, medium dry and medium sweet red.
Macedonia is best known for the production of excellent, internationally recognised red wine that is made using mainly the Xinomavro grape varietal. Xinomavro is a traditional varietal that ripens notoriously late and is particularly challenging to grow. The red wine produced from this grape has a wonderful ruby colour with notably high tannins.
Along with Xinomavro, the Roditis grape varietal is widely cultivated across Macedonia. This is one of the oldest indigenous grape varietals of the region that grows vigorously and has a high yield of grapes.
Although Macedonia is most well-known for its red wines, Malagousia is an aromatic white grape variety that is grown in the region. The wines produced using the Malagousia grape have a lovely aromatic quality and flavours of stone fruit. Assyrtiko grapes are also used to make white wines that have an excellent mineral profile, citrus aromas and a long finish.
Within Macedonia, Amynteo is where the production of rose and sparkling wines takes place. Most of the Macedonian sparkling wines are made using the closed tank method (cuve).
Wineries to Visit in Macedonia Wine Region, Greece
The Petranola Winery of Macedonia is a family run business in Petralona, Chalkidiki. Petralona was established in 2003 with the goal of producing quality local wines and spirits. Along with wines, the Petralona team produce excellent quality extra virgin olive oil on the estate. The wine makers and family at Petralona welcome visitors to visit the farm, taste the wines and experience true Greek hospitality.
The Ktima Biblia Chora winery and estate is located in the small village of Kokkinochori, in Kavala in the Macedonia wine region of Northern Greece. The first Ktima Biblia Chora vines were planted in 1998 and today they span on 57 hectares of land on the foothills of the imposing Mount Pangeon. The Ktima Biblia Chora team welcome visitors to experience their range of wines in their state-of-the-art winery.
The city of Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece and the most important city in the Macedonia Region. Thessaloniki is built near the sea on the Thermaikos Gulf and is a wonderful combination of the area’s stormy history and current cosmopolitan nature. The rich history of Thessaloniki means that it has a host of significant archaeological sites and ancient fora. There are also a number of Byzantine monuments including the churches of Acheiropoietos, the byzantine city walls and the byzantine bathhouse.
Halkidiki – The Most Popular Holiday Destination in Northern Greece
Halkidiki is the most popular holiday destination in Northern Greece thanks to its range of seaside resorts, incredible natural beauty and breath-taking beaches. The peninsula of Halkidiki is divided into three peninsulas called legs. The first leg is called Kassandra and is the most popular tourist resort in Halkidiki. The second leg is Sithonia which is popular for its secluded and untouched coves. The third leg is Athos which is home to the Athos Monastic community. Entrance to this community is allowed only for men with special permission. The best way to explore all of Halkidiki is by boat. Halkidiki has something for everyone and is the ultimate Greek tourist destination.
Dispilio – The Dispilio Prehistoric Lake Settlement
Dispilio is an archeological site that is home to the remains of a Neolithic lakeshore settlement that occupied an artificial island. Dispilio is located on Lake Orestiada in the Kastoria municipality of Macedonia. The lake settlement was discovered in 1932, after which extensive excavations began. When visiting this site at Dispilio there a small open museum nearby which provides all the details of the site’s significance. Visitors are also met by the museum curator who provides excellent explanations and is on hand to answer any questions.
An Incredible Natural Beauty of Macedonia
Macedonia is a land of incredible natural beauty with its dense forests, high mountains, snowcapped peaks and crystal-clear rivers and emerald-coloured lakes. The natural wonders of Macedonia are endless and provide the perfect place to visit to lose yourself in true and untouched nature.
Mount Olympus – The Home of Zeus and the Greek Gods
Mount Olympus is the most famous mountain peak of Greece that rises from the depths of the Aegean Sea to a soaring height of 2917 meters. It is the tallest mountain in Greece and the second tallest in the Balkans. The lower slopes of Mount Olympus provide the perfect playground for the adventurous with its many waterfalls, caves and gorges. The most popular activities at Mount Olympus as hiking and climbing. For experienced mountaineers, summiting Mount Olympus is not particularly challenging. For the less experienced, there are easier walks and trails along the scenic gorges of the mountain. For those wanting to extend their stay at the mountain, there are numerous accommodation facilities within the Mount Olympus National Park and at the base.
Lake Kastoria – The Great Lake of Macedonia
Lake Kastoria is located on a narrow peninsula between the Grammo and Vitsi Mountains in Macedonia, Greece. The best way to explore Lake Kastoria is by boat from the southernmost point to the northernmost tip. There are also beautiful pathways along the shores of the lake to explore. The Lake Kastoria promenade is shaded by rows of plane and beech trees, with the neighboring forest providing a mythical atmosphere. The forest is also home to a number of different bird species. No visit to Lake Kastoria is complete without experiencing the Dragon’s Cave from which one can see the seven underground lakes and magnificent stalactites.
Frakto Virgin Forest
The Frakto Virgin Forest is located in the highest peaks of the Rodopi Mountains at 1953 meters high. This forest is considered to be the only virgin forest in Greece and one of the most important in Europe as a result of its significant historical and ecological value. The forest is situated within a protected area so that the forest can be conserved. The best way to explore the forest is by walking along the many footpaths that take on past waterfalls and other beautiful sites. There are many panoramic spots to stop and enjoy the view and take wildlife photographs. The Frakto Forest is the ideal destination for hikers and nature lovers.
The Traditional Flavours of Macedonia
Macedonian cuisine is an arm of traditional Balkan cuisine. It has reflections of Mediterranean and middle eastern cuisine. The warn climate of Macedonia provides excellent conditions for the growth of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. The local cuisine of Macedonia is well known for its diversity and the excellent quality of the dairy products, local produce and wine.
Fassolia Gigntes Elefantes Kato Nevrokopiou
Macedonian Giant Elephant Beans
Fassolia Gigntes Elefantes Kato Nevrokopiou are giant elephant beans that are a type of runner bean. These beans are white, and kidney shaped. They are harvested manually, after which they are sun dried. Once the beans are ready, they are boiled just enough to keep the skin form and so that they have a buttery texture. In preparing the beans, they are usually baked in a tomato sauce. Fassolia Gigntes Elefantes Kato Nevrokopiou is eaten as a bean salad and normally paired with a crisp local Raki wine.
Bougatsa – Rustic Greek Pie
Bougatsa is a rustic, traditional Greek pie. This pie is made with layers of phyllo pastry that is filled with either minced meat, cheese of semolina custard. The origins of Bougatsa are from the Byzantine period. Over time and since then, Bougatsa has evolved to what it is today. Bougatsa can be found across Greece in special Bougatsa shops called bougatsopolia.
Anevato – Greek Goats Milk Cheese
Anevato is a traditional Greek cheese that is made entirely from goat’s milk. Anevato is a soft and grainy cheese that is made exclusively in the Kozani Prefecture. Historically, shepherds in western Macedonia would produce the cheese by leaving the goats milk curd to ride during the day. Today the cheese is made by storing the milk at 18 degrees Celsius until it reaches the perfect level of acidity. Once this is reached it is moved to cooling chambers where it is left for 24 hours and salt and rennet are added. Following this, the cheese takes 2 months to mature. The flavour of Anevato cheese is rich, acidic and fresh. It is usually eaten with a wooden spoon and can be enjoyed either as a meal accompaniment or on its own with a fresh glass of white wine.