Vast areas of vineyards capture the eye when you visit the Tikves Wine District. It is the most prominent vine growing area in the country, producing 40% of the total grape quantities for wine production. Viticulture is an important business for the local population, while the wine industry is one of the leading agricultural branches in the economy, significantly contributing to the country’s export.
The Tikves Wine District is home to the biggest and oldest Macedonian winery – Tikves Winery. Wine production under the Tikves brand dates back to 1885 and the winery has undergone many transformations during this long period of existence, continuously reinventing itself and adapting to the changing market conditions. Today, Tikves Winery is the leader of the industry, setting standards and driving change and development, not only in the country but throughout the entire South-East European region.
The winery has invested substantially in latest wine production technology and equipment, in human resource development and in education of the local grape growers in order to be able to source high quality grapes, which are one of the key factors for quality wine production. In its strive to permanently introduce novelties that would contribute to the quality of the grapes and the wine, making the products more competitive, Tikves Winery sets out to implement a unique project of benefit to local grape growers and the entire industry. This project also provides valuable information and understanding of the unique terroir and the local varieties and will contribute to improved wine promotion.
Better vineyard management through innovation and technology
The nine meteorological stations located throughout the Tikves Wine District were used as a basis in a much more comprehensive undertaking for obtaining agrometeorological data within the newly established web platform e-tikvesvineyards.com. Apart from centralizing the meteorological information and obtaining access to it in real time, this tool allows the ability to monitor and analyse the gathered data. The web platform also serves for obtaining and recording data related to soil characteristics and water stress, enabling vineyard control during the process of vegetation, pest control, disease management, as well as monitoring of the grapes ripening process.
The gathered information enables the application of SMART eco-viticulture by lower use of pesticides and practicing techniques that result with healthier and higher quality grapes. The quality of the grapes is the basis for determining their price and apart from influencing the quality of the wines it will also have positive impact on the grape growers’ revenue.
Contemporary research for informed decisions
The web platform is complemented by a state-of-the-art soil laboratory where 1,000 grape growers will be able to analyse soil samples and thus get precise information on what variety to plant on the specific soil, as well as what kind and how much nutrients to use. In addition, the modern laboratory is equipped with an instrument for scanning grape berries and based on the results, decisions on the start of harvest for a specific area, variety and vineyard can be made.
Such a laboratory creates the conditions for detailed terroir studies, research related to various clones of grape varieties, especially the local varieties Vranec and Kratoshija, yeast isolation from specific micro locations and identification of indigenous fungal species, analysis of aroma compounds and polyphenols in grapes and wines etc.
This will ultimately lead to a development of a Research and Development Department to serve the entire region and also establish close cooperation with universities and institutes for joint projects and students’ involvement. These activities will lead to the development of the wine industry and the local economy, create new possibilities for innovation, advancing knowledge and expertise.
New opportunities for education
The insight gained through the analyses and research carried out in the laboratory and by using the established web platform will be used as educational material for organizing grape growers’ workshops on sustainable grape production, education of young people and PhD and MSc students. It will also contribute to encouraging team work and sharing of knowledge.
The first step in the educational activities has been the training of the laboratory personnel completed in the Central Laboratories of the Ljubljana Institute in Slovenia. They will further train their colleagues and sessional employees on the techniques to be applied in the analyses using the new lab instruments. The other educational activities will commence in January 2022.
Increased competitiveness as the ultimate achievement
The activities realized by Tikves Winery as a partner of the project “Uncorking rural heritage: indigenous production of fermented beverages for local cultural and environmental sustainability” create a hub for future research, education and innovation that will result with increased competitiveness of the wines produced by Tikves Winery and other local producers. The implemented activities provide long-term benefits for local grape producers, for students and young people looking to get involved in grape and wine production, the local economy, the environment, as well as the entire wine industry.
Tikves wines are sold in over 30 markets on all continents. In 2020 alone they received 100 awards and recognitions on renowned international wine competitions. The increased quality and competitiveness of the wines will contribute to their further promotion and also to the development of wine tourism, creating even more opportunities for local young people and businesses.
¹ Zorica Lelova, Tikves Winery AD Kavadarci, 8-mi Septemvri 51430 Kavadarci, Republic of North Macedonia.
² Klemen Lisjak, PhD, Prof. Department of Fruit Growing, Viticulture and Oenology and Central Laboratory, Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, Hacquetova ulica 17, 1000 Ljubljana, Republic of Slovenia; Expert and consultant at Tikves Winery AD Kavadarci, 8-mi Septemvri 51430 Kavadarci, Republic of North Macedonia
Photo credits: Tikveš Winery, Marijan Močivnik
UNCORKING WINE & CIDER TYPICALITY