The spring was just trying to rise from the almost missing white blanket of winter when we decided to escape the madness happening in Bulgaria during several consecutive days off. We were going to somewhere, but not far. That’s why we hit the road and headed for some promising wineries in the Tikveš region.
We wanted to pay special attention to Macedonian wines, to contribute to our wine tasting experiences with several Tikves wineries, and in general to practice one of our favorite activities – wine tourism.
Without further ado, we present our impressions of our first wine tour of Tikves region in Macedonia. Cheers! 🍷🍷🍷
We decided to stay in Kavadarci just because the Tikves winery is in town. Our short walk in search of a place for lunch has confirmed the city as one of our least favorite. There is no way to overlook the fact that time has stopped in some places. And not in the good sense. It’s quite normal to see ruined doors and rubbish on the sidewalk next to expensive brand stores.
But the city hosts several large factories that provide jobs to people across the region. Maybe that’s why the streets and cafes were full of people enjoying a beer and a cigarette pack on Saturday. The important thing is that we found the best tavern where locals and visitors go to eat BBQ. It was full, but they found a place for us and the beans were very tasty.
Once it was clear that the entire Tikves winery restaurant was closed for a wedding, we started looking for options to taste wine. They recommended a 15-kilometer-away winery – Stobi. We had poor impressions on Stobi from their small bottles of white wine that dominated the disco clubs in Strumica. Still, we asked to call us a taxi and headed for the winery.
We were just charmed! The atmosphere in the restaurant was sophisticated and enjoyable, and their desserts fascinated us. We wondered what wines to try, and a knowledgeable sommelier helped us choose. It was so interesting to hear about wines, the harvests, the production. We were obviously very impressed because we left with several bottles for home.
Some of the bottles did not survive the next day because we decided to have dinner at the apartment we had rented. And Stobi’s wines were greatly combined with the food we bought from the store.
Tikves winery is something we had to leave for our next visit. We hope to try their limited series wines and reserves. Their website says that during the warmer part of the year, walks can be made in their different locations, seeing the Tikves Lake closely, making a picnic in the vineyards.
We hope the experience meets our high expectations, yet the Tikves brand is known in many places, including far beyond Macedonia. Our only hope is we can hit their restaurant when there is no wedding as it’s closed for visitors in that case. And they make a lot of weddings over there…
Traveling to Popova Kula, we saw a road sign of a winery. We listened to our hunch and stopped. Although still under construction, the courtyard of the winery and the restaurant were open. There were beautiful proud peacocks in the garden.
One of the workers was walking curious passers-by in the mansion. The owners had built great houses and villas, have a great restaurant, even made blue wine. The views of the Demir Kapija valley were also worth contemplating. And it all started around the restoration of an old royal villa.
We were just thinking we stumbled upon an incredible surprise, and we headed for the restaurant to taste wines. Right after we chose a menu package, an extraordinary rude bartender told us that we could not taste because there was nobody to deal with us. We asked to do the tasting ourselves, we would drink and appreciate ourselves, but she was obviously very lazy.
Having realized there was nothing to do, we bought some bottles to try afterward. But what a winery is that where you can’t taste wine. You will ask what all the other people were doing at the establishment. Well, they were drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. And we hope that if we get back there, they will have recruited adequate staff, otherwise, it will be a waste of our time and of that beautiful space.
Popova Kula was the culmination of our wine tour around Tikves. The tower rises in the valley of the town of Demir Kapija. There is also a hotel and a nice restaurant. There we are actually tasting, drinking, eating, as it should be. The walk in the area and selfies with the tower were obligatory.
We tried at least half the wines they offered. They did a tour for us through the winery, we heard the stories about the tower. A wine experience, as good as it gets. We tried out the unique red Stunushina variety there – like white wine, rosé, and red. We are now convinced that even if it disappears, we would have swallowed several bottles of it. But hopefully, it will not disappear!
In the valley, spring had arrived, and while gazing at the green meadows and the far-reaching Vardar river, we sipped another sip of fluid bliss. And we dreamed of coming back again. The next day, on the contrary, it was windy, the sky grew gray. Good, we were leaving anyway.
Tips for a pleasant wine-tasting
At the time of our visit, we can not say that winery websites are well-organized or someone will pick up the phone if you call them. The safest way is to ask for a tasting on-site. But before you hit the road, certainly ask a local to call and check if the winery is open.
Don’t do stupid stuff and force the driver to abstinence. Taxis in the area are many and not expensive. Negotiate the price in advance. For example, we paid 400 denars (6.5 euros) for 15 km from Kavadarci to the Stobi winery.
For an overnight stay, we recommend the hotel of Popova Kula. We look forward to seeing what accommodation prices will be deducted from Queen Maria. Both are 2-3 km away, in Demir Kapija. Or even less if you walked. In Kavadarci we can not recommend the apartment we stayed in, but you can check out what’s on booking.com.
Having a restaurant in each of the wineries means there is no need to worry about food. In most places, the menu extends beyond standard tasting appetizers. So there is no way you’ll remain hungry, actually, the majority of people visit these places to have lunch/dinner in combination with good wine. And we do the opposite – we want to have nice wine, and the bonus is if there’s a good meal to accompany it.
For the next time
For our next tour of Tikves region, we will try to give the Tikves winery a second chance to welcome us, as well as Queen Maria to fix the terrible first impression. We also noticed small family wineries, which might be worth trying. The region will definitely be developing, and especially the wine-making and wine-tasting in it.
So after this first tour, which we liked very much, we know there will be more – to fill the holes, our thirsty throats and some of the white spots in our memories. Cheers! 🍷🍾🥂