Tikveš is the most famous wine district in North Macedonia and is widely considered to produce the best wines. Located in the centre and south of the country, in what is also known as the Vardar Valley, the district boasts hot, sunny days and little rainfall. Nevertheless, the best growers here can achieve wines of balance and freshness. Tikveš Winery leads the region’s campaign to put North Macedonia on the map for a number of self perpetuating reasons. It has the largest concentration of wineries and growers and thus, there is greater investment in understanding the different sites. Consequently it is an area in which potential is being explored more intensively than anywhere else.
About 12,000 hectares are planted in this district, which represents approximately one-third of the total vineyards area in Macedonia. The wine district is surrounded by mountains on three sides; the Drenovo and Mariovo ranges are to the southeast, and Plaush and Konce Mountains loom to the the northeast. The Vardar River with its various tributaries, cuts the valley simplistically into a western and an eastern side. The western part boasts richer, more fertile land compared to its eastern neighbour. This district is both flat and hilly, with hills that stretch as far as the Veles canyon in the north and the Demir Kapija canyon on the south. The vineyards in the Tikveš wine district are located at altitudes ranging from 110 to 650 meters above sea level.
As the Mediterranean climate from the south collides with the Continental climate from the north, it creates an area most remarkable for grape growing and wine production on the entire Balkan Peninsula. There are surely microclimates here as well. The winters are warmer compared to those in the other wine districts. The amount of rainfall is insufficient and droughts occur often, especially during the summer months. During the months of July and August the maximum daily temperatures are around 40 °C, although they can easily go even beyond 43 °C. Skopje wine district is characteristic by the low frequent and low intensity of winds. The north winds provide natural ventilation in the vineyards, protection against cryptogram diseases. The soils in this district vary, from clay to rendzina. Warmth is often retained and released during the cooler evenings. Studies are continuing here but the Rendzina soils are increasingly showing themselves capable of giving interesting, complex, ‘mineral’ driven wines.
The small village of Demir Kapija provides some of North Macedonia’s most interesting terroir. For now at least, the territory is almost exclusively farmed by Popova Kula.