Despite destruction of 700 years old Imperial vineyards and winery, royal vine flowing from Decani again

Posted on February 18, 2014 by


Located in a nest of vineyards between the Prokletije and Šara Mountains on the horizon, –  lies Velika Hoca; Hoća is known as the heart of Metohija, and has throughout centuries been living through vine.


According to historical sources in the XII century Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja bequeathed the whole area to monastery Hilandar. The peak of development Hoča reached in the Middle Ages, when the wealthier local Serbs built 24 Orthodox churches and two monasteries.  (The whole area has a special spiritual meaning to Serbs, therefore they named it  ” little Jerusalem”).   Decani Monastery has recognized the fertility and wealth of the land blessed by Mediterranean winds, so the Orthodox monks planted the very first vineyards in Velika Hoca and placed the Vinica (then – vine production) there. Those were the times when they cultivated  indigenous variety of Serbian red v ine: Prokupa.


These young Serbian women from Velika Hoca are selling ceramics 
Less than 13 churches remained from that time; there are still some valuable examples of urban architecture of the nineteenth century. Some of them, like the old Ottoman Saraj, is renewed by international donors. But there’s only 650 Serbs who live like caged birds,  surrounded by KFOR’s observation posts and wire, in the rhythm of  Austrian jeeps, their  daily visits and the sound of KFOR armored vehicles.

“Luckily we have KFOR, otherwise we’ll be unable to move,” says Zlatko, young, tall and handsome vinegrower, while sipping his morning coffee & rakija with monks and soldiers who came to visit the village and purchase stocks of wine.

“Only 35 percent of the grapes can be processed in the area, and today there’s only vine-growing production as a source of income for 60 percent of Serbs,” says Dejan, coordinator for the municipality of Orahovac.

“As for the vineyards close to the ‘Albanian territory,’  after the massacre of 14 wheat reapers in Staro Gacko, no one even dares to go there; but the Albanian usurpers are selling them out, as if they’re their property.

Father Marko from Velika Hoca uses special technology to make wine  known as ” the drink of the gods ” in this area . The monastery vineyards spread over ten acres , and from the varieties of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cormorant they annually produce over 50,000 liters of 1st class wine.

A Serb boy waits for a secure U.N. bus taking villagers from Velika Hoca to the Serb stronghold of Kosovska Mitrovica

The dawnfall of the ancient imperial vineyards: Velika Hoca 

In Decanska Vinica , ( the heart of Velika Hoca from which , according to historical sources vine flowed all the way to Prizren through special ceramic pipes and further  straight to the chamber of Emperor Dusan) , famous “Decani vine” is produced.  That’s why Vinica , located on the main square in Velika Hoca , has been granted to Decani monastery by  Emperor Dusan –  so Decanska Vinica  remained even seven centuries later intact . In the vinica, thanks to the modernized technology and experience father Marko got in Italian wineries, father Marko produces one authentic vine ” marked ” by the most magnificent Serbian  monastery.
– From Velika Hoca all the way to Prizren, according to tradition, led  an aqueduct for vine, vineduct; that’s where through the ceramic pipes vine flowed  to the palace of  Serbian Emperor Dušan the Mighty .
Velika Hoca vineyards belongs to the Decani Monastery , whose monks even today use the same ancient wine cellars for production and storage. Before the aggresion on our Kosovo and Metohija , the Monastery processed over 160 hectares under the vine, each hectare was planted from 10,000 to 12,000 vines . The most commonly grown varieties of wine grapes are Prokupac , Gamet cormorant , white Smederevka and Riesling . Vine is always accompanied by domestic brandy .


The vinica of Decani

–  I came to Velika Hoca  from  Decani Monastery  in 2000 , when we started with restoration of the vineyards and winery, the salvation of what  was left, since during 1999. all the ancient  monastic vineyards were devastated by the aggressor; also  technology and equipment eventually become obsolete . Along with the restoration of the vineyards and the equipment , I was taught how to prepare a quality wine –  father Marko explains; upon the arrival from Visoki Decani with the help of the villagers  he planted new vines of grapes , renovated and equipped the winery and the guest house .

The monastic vineyards spreads over ten acres of soil;  the annual production of  high quality grape (varieties Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and the cormorant) reaches 50,000 liters of both red and white vines. Father Marko says if necessary, grapes are being purchased from villagers whose basic occupation  is  vine and brandy production.

Velika hoca nekad

Velika Hoca. beginning of 20th century; one typical Serbian family produses their own wine and brandy

That’s why the famous ” Decani ” vine gladly try and buy  both guests and visitors of the monastery. Also visitors of Velika Hoca and Orahovac  are traditionaly welcomed  with vine and brandy; since both have a special role in the life and survival of Serbs in these Metohija enclaves . However , for the vinemakers –  including father Marko,  –  vine sale is a major problem since the factory ” Orvin ” has been usurped by the Albanians, similar to other facilities in Metohija.

velika hoca

Velika Hoca youth

– Like all the others, we sell our vine to the rest of Serbia. One of the problems we face is the transport; (impossible to pass through Albanian areas)  but we do it in small quantities, so most of all annual production we, somehow,  manage to sell – explains father Marko , chief technologist for the production of ” Decani wine “.
– When the harvest season ends, the problem of grape  storage  and vine packaging occures  the residents of Orahovac and Velika Hoca are often of the gratest help.

LIVING IN ISOLATION –  He warns that due to the lack of security and living in isolation,  surrounded by the Albanian unfriendly environment, large number of the vineyards owned by Serbs have been destroyed. Father Marko spent  last fifteen years struggling to survive in Metohija as well as to “break through” the isolation in which they are captured.

However , he says, production of  vine  i.e.  ”God’s drink and a faith in God” ,” keeps the residents in this area from fleeing; and the area still contains eight ancient Serbian churches and four monastic ruins from the 14th century. That’s why they called it Metochion of  Hilandar .