History of Wine – Part 4

Part 1, 2, 3, 4.


After phylloxera plague, vineyards were replanted quickly and efficiently, to the greatest extent owing to state subsidies and newly established vine nurseries in Smederevo (in 1882), Bukovo (in 1886), Jagodina (in 1889) and Aleksandrovac (in 1891) which introduced new varieties grafted onto resistant rootstock into Serbian vineyards. Alongside vine nurseries, new vinegrowers and wine-makers’ cooperatives were established, such as Venčac vinegrowers’ cooperative founded in 1903 in the village of Banja near Aranđelovac. Soon afterwards followed founding of Smederevo vinegrowers’ cooperative in 1909, Jovac vinegrowers’ cooperative in 1908 , Knjaževac vinegrowers and wine-makers’ cooperative in 1927 and Negotin vinegrowers’ cooperative in 1929. The period of recuperation was interrupted only during the period 1912-1918 because of wars.

In the course of the Second World War, vineyards were ravaged heavily since there were no conditions during war times to provide proper care and maintenance of vineyards. Lack of men in the workforce and pesticides were the major problem in vineyards of that time.

After the end of the Second World War, the country’s restoration became a priority. Unfortunately, this did not include restoration of the vineyards. Owing to industrial development, there was a large-scale migration of rural population into towns where they were employed in factories and industrial plants. During this period, wine production took place in large industrial wineries established by the Government of the People’s Republic of Serbia. In the year 1950, Navip (industrial winery) was founded on the infrastructure of Bruno Moser’s wine cellar in Zemun. Shortly thereafter, in 1955, Rubin (another industrial winery) was established in Kruševac, followed by Vinožupa in 1957 in Aleksandrovac. As far as individual producers are concerned, nationalization and confiscation occured. The land was confiscated from monasteries as well. Individual producers were in an extremely difficult situation due to impossibility of placing and selling wine directly. In 1970, a law was passed that prevented vinegrowers from producing wine. In this way, vine growers could only sell their grapes to large industrial wineries or illegally sell wine to neighbors and relatives. Owing to such laws, large wineries quickly gained monopoly on the market, and they dictated purchase price of the grapes, which brought vinegrowers into a difficult position. This led to shrinkage of vineyards and transition to more viable agricultural crops.

At the time, Yugoslavia followed a policy of quantity, rather than quality. Thus, Yugoslavia became the world’s fifth exporter of bulk wine. In those years, vineyards planted with international grape varieties were on the rise, whilst the major local varieties were Smederevka and Italian Riesling. The Institute for Viticulture and Winemaking was founded in 1974 and then the scientific work on creation of new varieties kicked off. Dragoslav Milisavljević, PhD crowned his work in 1971 when three new grape varieties were officially recognized: Neoplanta, Sirmium and Župljanka. Ten years later, Milisavljević together with his colleagues Sima Lazić and Vladimir Kovač created varieties Rumenka, Probus, Sila, Nova Dinka.

In the last decade of the twentieth century, the renaissance of Serbian winemaking began. Small private wine cellars brought a revolution when it comes to new technology in vineyards and in the wine cellar. The main priorities of small private wineries were varietal selection, vineyard management with adequate clonal selection and certified planting material. A range of new varieties that have never been cultivated in Serbia before have been introduced: Tempranillo, Marselan, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Shiraz, etc. The government supports planting modern vineyards with international grape varieties, among which the most common were Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc. Also, the popularity of wine among consumers is growing. In the last decade of the twentieth century, the average annual consumption of wine per capita was 4 liters.


Serbian wine growing in the twenty-first century continues its development. The surface covered with vineyards continue to expand and after 15 years, they have reached total surface of ​​25,000 hectares. The average annual consumption of wine per capita in Serbia has reached 13 liters. Also, autochthonous grape varieties come in the spotlight, so vineyards planted with Prokupac, Grašac, Začinak, Tamjanika, Seduša, Furmint multiply. Starting from 2016, the International Prokupac Day is celebrated on October 14th, which contributes to promotion of Prokupac as a local variety of Serbia.

History of Wine

Text Tomislav Ivanović

Part 1, 2, 3, 4.