Wines of the Balkans – five things to know

If you are a wine enthusiast looking for unique and exciting wine experiences, you might want to consider exploring the wines of the Balkans. The Balkan region has been producing wines for thousands of years, but it is only recently that the world has started to take notice of the high quality and unique character of Balkan wines. With a rich history, diverse terroir, indigenous grape varieties, and award-winning wines, the Balkans are quickly becoming a must-visit destination for wine lovers.

Here are five fascinating things to know about the wines of the Balkans:


History and Heritage

The Balkans have a rich history of winemaking that dates back to ancient times. The ancient Thracians, Greeks and Romans all cultivated grapes and produced wine in the region. Today, many wineries in the Balkans are proud of their history and incorporate traditional winemaking techniques into their modern practices. While traditional winemaking techniques are still used in many wineries in the Balkans, there has been a significant push towards modernization in recent years. Wineries are investing in state-of-the-art equipment and technology, and many are working with international consultants to improve the quality of their wines.


Climate and Terroir

One of the reasons for the high quality of Balkan wines is the region’s diverse terroir. The Balkans have a range of climates, soil types, and altitudes that make it possible to grow a wide range of grape varieties. From the cool, mountainous regions of Serbia to the sun-drenched valleys of North Macedonia, each region has its own unique terroir that is reflected in the wines produced there. The soil is diverse, with various types of rock and clay providing different levels of nutrients and minerals that contribute to the unique flavor profiles of Balkan wines.


Grape Varieties

Balkan winemaking is characterized by the use of indigenous grape varieties. The region has over 1000 different grape varieties, many of which are unique to the area. Some of the most popular grape varieties include Vranac from Montenegro, Prokupac from Serbia, Xinomavro from Greece, and Plavac Mali from Croatia, Mavrud from Bulgaria, Papaskarasi from Turkey, etc.  Each grape variety has its own unique characteristics that contribute to the flavor profile of the wine.


Wine Styles

Balkan wines are diverse in style, ranging from light and crisp to full-bodied and complex. The region produces a wide range of wines, including white, rosé, red, and even orange wines. Many of the wines are aged in oak barrels, giving them a distinct oaky flavor profile. Balkan winemakers are also known for their experimentation with ancient winemaking techniques, such as using clay pots or qvevri to age the wine.


Despite being a relatively new player on the global wine scene, the Balkans have already won numerous international awards for their wines. The Balkans International Wine Competition and Festival (BIWCF) is the most admired wine event in the region, and many wineries have been recognized for their outstanding wines. The event brings together winemakers, wine experts, and enthusiasts from all over the world to sample and judge the best wines from the region. It is a great opportunity to discover new and exciting wines from the Balkans and to learn more about the region’s rich winemaking heritage.


The wines of the Balkans are a unique and exciting addition to the global wine scene. With a rich history, diverse terroir, indigenous grape varieties, modernization, and award-winning wines, the Balkans offer a unique wine experience that is not to be missed. 


The region’s long history of winemaking, its unique climate and soil conditions, and its diverse range of grape varieties all contribute to the high quality and unique character of Balkan wines. 


Don’t miss out on the opportunity to discover the wines of the Balkans for yourself and experience the rich culture, history, and natural beauty that this region has to offer at The Balkans International Wine Festival on 15-17 June in Sofia.