Wine regions

Wine regions / 01/23/2019 / 2626


Three Moravas is a wine region in central Serbia that encompasses the basins of three Morava rivers: the West Morava, the South Morava and the Great Morava. The wine region of Three Morava comprises a total of 9 sub-regions: Paraćin, Jagodina, Jovac, Levač, Temnić, Trstenik, Kruševac, Župa and Ražanj.

Based on 2012 data, there are 7,529 ha of vineyards in Three Moravas region, with the largest areas under the vineyards located in the municipalities of Trstenik, Kruševac and Aleksandrovac. Vineyards are generally situated in flat to moderately steep positions at altitudes between 200 and 350 meters. In Župa, vineyards are located in the belt up to 650 meters.

Soil: The predominant soil types are Vertisol, Fluvisol and Cambisol, but other types of soil may occur depending on the location.

Climate: In terms of climate, Župa of Aleksandrovac has moderate continental climate with distinctive features of Mediterranean sub-climate. Winters are mild with little snow, and temperatures rarely dropping below -10 degrees C. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that locals have been involved in vinegrowing for centuries. The driest period of year is April-June, whilst autumn is typically sunny and dry, which is particularly favourable for late varieties such as Prokupac. Typically Mediterranean cultivars such as figs and almonds can be grown with success in Župa.

The moderating factors affecting the local climate are the mountains surrounding the area, including the Kopaonik Mountains (2017m), Željin (1785m) and Jastrebac (1130m) which affect air currents as well as diurnal temperature variations. The area around the rivers affects the microclimate and airflow, and consequently improves the process of photosynthesis, pollination and fertilization.

Grape Producers: In this wine region, 18,129 households own vineyards. The largest areas under vineyards are located in the municipality of Trstenik.

Varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Italian Riesling, Prokupac, Blaufrankisch, Pinot Noir, Tamjanika, Rhine Riesling, Chardonnay

Wine history of Župa: Material evidence indicates that wine seemed an important element of daily life in Župa even in the Roman times. However, the first written records about Župa and its vineyards date from 12th century. Grand Župan Stefan Nemanja, the founder of medieval Serbian state, donated several villages in Župa (Kožetin, Popovac, Raklja, Velika Kruševica) and their wine cellars to Studenica monastery. All these villages were obligated to supply the monastery with wine when needed. All this was stated in the Studenica Charter (dd. 1196).

In 19th century, Kožetin village has grown in size and became the town of Aleksandrovac, which quickly earned its reputation as one of the main hubs for supplying wine across the Balkans. There were specialized shops in Belgrade and other cities for sale of Župa wines. Phylloxera arrived in Župa in 1882 and it devastated local vineyards within  a period of 4 years. Fortunately, Serbia set up state-owned vine nursery in  Aleksandrovac in 1891, which helped recovery of Župa vineyards on resistant stock.

At the beginning of 20th century, a few wine-making families from Župa owned cellars who capacity exceeded a million liters. Wine and grapes were the primary source of income for many families in Župa. However, wars in 20th century brought further development of wine-making in Župa to a halt. After the World War II, local cooperative was nationalized; the law prohibited wine-makers to produce wine for commercial purpose. Instead, they could only grow and sell their grapes to large industrial wineries which dictated purchase price. Difficult times have come for wine-makers of Župa.

At the beginning of 21st century, a group of pioneer winemakers appeared with strong intent to utilize their hard work and efforts in the vineyards and cellars to restore the former glory of Župa. Awards for Župa wines won at international competitions confirm that invested efforts weren’t wasted.

Interesting trivia:

- The word “Župa” has Slavic origins and refers to an administrative region, a shire, a group of villages ruled by the Župan. Gradually, the meaning of the term has evolved, so nowadays this term in Serbian language denotes any region with mild micro-climate, an area protected from winter frost, cold winds and snowy clouds.The most famous “župa” in Serbia today is Župa of Aleksandrovac, widely known as “Župa”, a historic wine region in Serbia which has been keeping continuity of Serbia’s wine-making tradition for centuries.

- Grape variety Župski Bojadiser was named after Župa. It's a teinturier, the crossing of Alicante Bouschet X Gamay Noir

- Just as the tradition goes in the entire Mediterranean belt, typical vine training system in Župa since ancient times has been “župski kondir” i.e. bush vines, which is best suited to Prokupac variety which requires plenty of sunshine throughout the day. In local dialect, such vine is called “gidža” and you may come across old vines on some plots whose age has been estimated somewhere between 50 and 120 years.

- Župa still guards unique temorary wine-makers’ lodges grouped together to form “poljana”. Poljana used to be constructed by owners of vineyards from villages scattered across Upper Župa hills so that they could reside close to vineyards in the months when there is extensive work in the vineyards instead of commuting on a daily basis. Poljana first appeared in the Middle Ages, although vast majority of present-day poljana lodges originate from end-19th century or the beginning of 20th century. Architecturally, these are vinegrowers’ lodges grouped closely together, divided by narrow lanes and a small central square. Wine cellars are made of mud, stone, unbaked bricks, or on rare occasion made of wood. Poljana lodges surround from all sides the town of Aleksandrovac, the center of Župa vine-growing area. 24 poljana lodges have been preserved till present day. The most famous ones are poljana of Lukarevina, Kruševica (whose origins are associated with prince Lazar (14th century)), Ježevica, Botunje, etc…







Tomislav Ivanović

Awarded wine writer, wine critic and contributor to selected wine magazines. WSET3-certified author and editor-in-chief of 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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