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Events / 11/10/2014 / 956

PROKUPLJE RENAISSANCE

Vinogradi Prokuplje  Serbian town of Prokuplje was first mentioned in written records from 1395, when the vineyards located close to "the town of St. Procopius" were donated to the monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Mt. Athos (North Greece).Already then, Prokuplje and its surrounding were well-known for their vineyards and excellent wine. Although we perceive Župa nowadays as the cradle of Prokupac and Župa's wine-makers should reasonably feel proud because they managed to preserve this variety and re-affirm Prokupac as our flagship variety in Serbia's modern wine-making, it is well-known that Prokupac was once a common variety in vineyards across Serbia ... And residents of Prokuplje take pride in the fact that their town and grape variety share common origin of name - St Procopius.

Since then, the region of Toplica (South Serbia) suffered difficult times ... It is estimated that the region once boasted more than 5000 hectares of vineyards. Today, according to official statistics, the territory of Toplica covered with vineyards extends to mere 765 hectares, with the largest portion of vineyards located in the villages around Žitorađa on private properties ranging from 5 to maximum 20 ares, while the largest number of vinegrowers reside in the municipality of Prokuplje. The wine is produced mainly for domestic use. Several small family wineries whose wine is sold on the local market (let us mention here Aranđelović winery and Sokić winery ) have expanded their family vineyards with Prokupac and Vranac vines, and thus increased production of wine that is sold to fans of wines made from local varieties.

On 28th May, 2008,  Toplica started its come-back to the wine scene of Serbia. Brothers Milomir and Dragan Kovačević have decided to realize their dream in the village of Gojinovac and build a winery that will reunite Prokupac and Prokuplje again. On 8th November, 2014, the outcome of invested efforts, energy, and certainly huge amount of money was presented to the wine-loving public of Serbia. The vision of one man is materialized in a magnificent building covering the surface of 8,000 m2 on  5 floors, with a capacity of more than 1,000,000 liters. The architectural design of the winery is the result of creative energy of Spanish architects. We will not enter here into a discussion whether it is the largest private winery in the Balkans, as some media have already assessed, because such labels also raise the question whether the size of the winery is determined by potential or current production capacity. In any case, for Toplica and Prokuplje, this is the most important winery in the Balkans. For Serbia, this is a great piece of news because this winery has sparked the renaissance of the entire Toplica region. With such a large and powerful player on the market, it will be easier to profile and inspire other small wineries to present their wine region and vineyards to the market together. Also, the quality of produced grapes and wine will inevitably grow as well as the vineyards, which can already be witnessed on the example of Šumadija wine region where large wineries Aleksandrović and Radovanović gave a boost to the entire region by helping smaller wineries.

Crowds of guests flowed towards the entrance doors of the winery, along the path through the young vineyards. The Kovačević brothers started from scratch - they bought the land, deforested it and prepared for planting vines, and now the young vineyards are already formed. Vineyards in the vicinity of the winery cover an area of 80 hectares, where 40 hectares already produce grapes while the remaining parcel is ready for new plantings. The plan is to expand vineyards next year by another 100 hectares.

Toplički Vinogradi Toplički Vinogradi

Panoramski pogled na vinariju Toplički vinogradi Panoramic view of Toplički vinogradi

The guests at the opening ceremony (journalists, sommeliers, winemakers, wine experts, restaurateurs and friends of the winery) had the opportunity to taste wines from the Toplički Vinogradi winery portfolio. I would say that we got a chance to taste wines and get the impression about the potential of this winery as an announcement of what will come in the period ahead of us. And as proof that Prokupac naturally thrives here on the slopes along the Toplica river, Epigenia Prokupac 2012 left the most convincing impression... I am excited to see in which direction Toplički Vinogradi will further develop the story about Prokupac from Toplica because they seem to be on the right track.

Epigenia Prokupac 2012

On this occasion, we wish to thank Zoran Bojović and Miloš Kalapiš for great photos.

 



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Tomislav Ivanović

Awarded wine writer, wine critic and contributor to selected wine magazines. WSET3-certified author and editor-in-chief of www.vinopedia.rs. Member of Vojvodina Sommelier Association. Juror in national and international wine competitions. Lecturing about wines of Serbia and the Balkans. Local partner of Wine Mosaic organization. Co-founder of International Prokupac Day.

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