It may not seem obvious, but Macedonia was one of the first places where wine was cultivated, alongside ancient Greece, Thrace and the Peleponnese. Macedonia in particular has a long tradition of wine production. According to Clearchus of Soloi, the first to discover the art of wine-making was Maron, son of Evanthis, whose fame is commemorated in the name of Maroneia in Thrace.
The decline and fall of the Roman Empire however brought the abandonment of the cultivation of the vine and a dramatic fall in the consumption of wine in western and central Europe. As the guardian of the Greek and Roman cultural heritage during the Middle Ages Byzantium and Macedonia preserved the art of vine cultivation. In fact it was during the Byzantine era that some of the best wines of their time were produced.
Following the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders, Europe was re-acquainted with the joys of wine by the merchant Venetians and Genoans. On their return to the West after a longer or shorter sojourn in Byzantium the Crusaders and feudal lords brought with them varieties of vine, which they planted, mainly, close to the shores of the Mediterranean.
Today’s Macedonian wines are diverse, and very different to those of its neighbour Greece. Despite its proximity to the northern Aegean, a distinct set of microclimates and geological environments give the land – and its wines – an unparalleled continental flavor. The topography, though widely varied, is more Balkan than Aegean. Even along the coast, the sandy softness of the land is in contrast to the rugged coastlines of southern Greece and most of the islands.