History of Wine – Part 2

Part 1, 2, 3, 4.


Having arrived in the Balkans in 7th century, the Slavic tribes came into contact with vine-growing. Development of Serbian state in the Middle Ages during the Nemanjić dynasty (from 11th till 14th century) meant also growing interest in wine-making. This was largely fuelled by the fact that pagan Slavic tribes were converted to Christianity, where wine occupies an important position as the symbol of Christ’s blood. Development of vine-growing in this period is largely related to monastery estate and estate owned by the Serbian ruling classes. Monasteries used to grow their vineyards on monastery estate called “metoh”. Metoh of monasteries Visoki Dečani and Devič was on the territory of Velika Hoča village , while the metoh of Pećka Patrijaršija monastery was on the territory of Orahovac. Vineyards of the Serbian ruling class were cultivated by serfs, who were granted the right to use vineyards and land on condition that they pay to the landowner a fee called “čabrina” in the form of agricultural produce, i.e. one tenth of produced wine. It is recorded in Studenica Charter (12th century) that Stefan Nemanja (1168-1196), the founder of the Serbian ruling dynasty Nemanjić, presented neighbouring wine-growing villages as a gift to Studenica monastery. At the end of his rule, Stefan Nemanja also gave vineyards in Velika Hoča, the famous wine-making village, as a gift to Hilandar Monastery in Mt Athos. Historic records bear witness that in 1189, Stefan Nemanja welcomed German Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa and his crusaders with wine and mead (“vino et medone”).

All Serbian rulers paid great attention to vineyards, thus they outlined today’s wine regions. In the Charter written by Stephen the First-Crowned (1198-1228), diluting wine with water was strictly forbidden. Later on in the Middle Ages, king Milutin (1282-1321) maintained quality of vineyards in Kosovo-Metohija. There is written record that during the rule of Emperor Dušan the Great (1331-1355) wine was transported by a 25- kilometer- long “wine pipeline” to cellars in Svrčin and Ribnik. Emperor Dušan also made the first laws which introduced for the first time the notion of protected geographical indication and wine quality. The Law lists a number of wine-making places in Kosovo and Metohija, such as Imperial Winery and Gornja and Donja Hoča. Despot Đurđe Branković (1427-1456) made great contribution to development of vineyards in Smederevo region, while prince Lazar (1385-1389) gets the credit for creating a vinegrowing region in Župa.

History of Wine

Text Tomislav Ivanović
Image Pudelek (Marcin Szala), CC BY-SA 3.0

Part 1, 2, 3, 4.