Serbia’s wine regions – Župa

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Župa is an old wine region in southern Serbia, older than Serbia itself. This is also one of these corners of earth, which could endlessly inspire painters and poets. It is situated at the foot of the Kopaonik, a mountain range with country’s highest peak, Pančićev Vrh (2,017 m), and popular ski resorts. The first documents mentioning this region come from the 12th century, when župan (a kind of count, administrating some region in king’s name) Stefan Nemanja gave the winemaking villages of the area to the monastery of Studenica. The green and hilly Župa could be compared to Burgundy or Langhe, but local wine producers are proud and self-confident, and don’t like to hide themselves behind any vague comparisons.

We could distinguish the Lower (Donja) and Upper (Gornja) Župa – the former being home to numerous vineyards and orchards, the latter suitable rather for hiking, since cooler and more mountainous. The biggest town is Aleksandrovac (6,500 inhabitants) – offering to wine tourists its winemaking museum, several wineries, and – in September – a wine festival “Župa’s Vintage” (“Župska Berba”).

Apart from several international grape varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion, and Italian Riesling, local producers grow also autochthonous White Tamjanika and Prokupac. The latter grapes are cultivated in an ancient way, with wine trained like bushes and cordons bound together on the top. This is believed to guaranty a smaller crop, but of higher quality. Such a training system requires manual harvest. White Tamjanika is considered an indigenous variety, although it has been proven that their origins are in France. Still, it has been grown in Župa for the last few centuries and has perfectly adapted to its terroir, expressing it probably like no other white grapes.

There are many noteworthy producers in the region, and my choice can be surely questioned. I did my best though to use the limited time and visited five wineries: Budimir, Minić, Ivanović, Spasić, and Botunjac. There are further cellars, which should be mentioned and which I wish to visit in the future: Miletić, Nikolić, Radenković, Braća Rajković, Stemina, and Vila Vinum.

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