Over the Easter holidays, families and friends gather around festive tables laden with superb food and inevitable wine. Serbia has done much to restore the tradition of making wine, so that wine lovers can choose from various types of excellent local wines. Representatives of some family wineries spoke about development of wine production in Serbia, as well as their experiences and plans for the future, for our regular feature Economic Review, prepared by Biljana Blanusa.
Serbia has over 2,000 year long tradition of wine growing, as evidenced by many documents, such as those that legions of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius planted the first vineyards on Mt. Fruska Gora. The Romans brought vine to other parts of Serbia as well. Since then, throughout history, wine was mainly drink emperors reserved for the tables of emperors. Continuing the tradition of their ancestors, the winery Stemina from Trstenik has planted the vineyards on the sites where imperial vineyards once were. Namely, near the monastery of Ljubostinja where Princess Milica withdrew after the Battle of Kosovo, she planted vineyards on the fringes of the estate and produced wine. It is on these sites that vineyards with supreme grape varieties are located today and production is carried out using the most modern methods. According to Winery "Stemina" Director Mina Pantic, tradition has played an important role in the development of the winery. For more than half a century, the Pantic family has been producing this wondrous drink, and, in addition that they planted vines on the sites of the imperial vineyards, wine is stored in barrels, made of oak from the monastery and imperial forests. The winery sells its products to neighboring countries and to Greece, and the plan is to find the way to place their wines on the EU market.
The Rajkovic family, the old time wine makers from Zupa, founded the eponymous winery in the village of Gornje Zleginje, near Aleksandrovac, back in 1834. They have been producing wine for nine generations. They have won awards for the quality of wines many times, and they are especially proud of the charter of King Alexander, which is the oldest known medal for wine in Serbia. The Winery "Rajkovic Brothers" won this recognition in 1933, when it was received by Milos Rajkovic, the ancestor of today's owners. According to Vladimir Rajkovic, the Winery grows indigenous grape varieties, such as Prokupac and Muscadine, of which high-quality wines are produced. Rajkovic says the descendants will continue the family tradition, although they are university graduates, and they plan to increase production to 50,000 bottles a year and expand to new markets. Certain quantities of their wine are already available in Germany and France, and some will soon be available in Russia.
Between the Two World Wars, Serbia was the fourth largest exporter of wine in Europe. Today, there are about 200 registered wineries in Serbia, and exports have increased thanks to incentives for the promotion of the sector. Over the past seven years, the value of wine exports has doubled and reached 17 million dollars. The biggest breakthrough has been made to the EU market, where Serbia’s 2011 wine export was four times greater than in 2010. Thus, the share of the EU market in Serbia’s total wine exports has increased to 35%, and the trend continues this year