The Wines of Stobi
Just outside the town of Gradsko is one of Macedonia’s newest and most successful wineries: Stobi, named in honor of the nearby Roman ruins which we had already visited.
Although Stobi was founded just six years ago, it’s already become one of the country’s most recognized brands. Even before we visited, it was among our favorite Macedonian wines. Full-bodied, rich in color, and inexpensive, Stobi’s Vranec had been our “go-to” bottle since arriving two months prior.
The tour of the winery was similar to others we’d done in Macedonia; we saw the crushing machines, the filtering and fermentation vats, and the storage halls. But Stobi’s facilities were more high-tech, and its architecture has a modern flair which really stands out. The storage hall, for instance, is a thing of beauty, with grand columns that call to mind Istanbul’s Sunken Cistern and barrels arranged in an arch to resemble the amphitheater at the archaeological site of Stobi.
Soon, we had moved to the dining hall, where Stobi’s master vintner Vlatko was waiting to introduce us to some of their wines. This was a lot of fun; one of the company’s younger experts had joined us, and took us through a crash course in proper tasting technique. It’s much easier to appreciate the different flavors in a wine, when there’s a connoisseur on-hand to point them out. By myself, I’d never come upon the idea that the Vranec has notes of plum, but now that you say it… I suppose it does!
Our visit to Stobi was a lot of fun. It might not be as historic as the Vinarija Elenov, or as romantic as the Popova Kula, but it shows off a different, more modern side of Macedonia’s wine culture. That night, as we uncorked yet another bottle of our beloved Stobi Vranec, I whispered into my glass, “I know where you come from.”
“You smell like plum.”