On the 15th November, representatives of the Wine Roads of Serbia Association, in the company of friends, headed for Zagreb. The reason was Novemberfest, organised for the fourth time in a row by the Wine Roads of Croatia Association!
The tradition of wine production in the territory of the Republic of Croatia is more than 2 500 years old, which, among other things, is confirmed by a 5th century BC coin, found in the town of Vis. On one side of the coin there was a bunch of grapes, and on the other, an amphora for storing wine. Even though the founder and forbearer of the vine throughout the Pannonian Wine Corridor is the same, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus, the Novemberfest is not held in his honor but in the honor of Saint Martin, once a Roman soldier who loved wine and was a winegrower himself. This holiday is known to the people as St. Martin’s Day and it is celebrated on the 11th November, the occasion of which the baptism of wine is performed because, according to legend, the saint himself baptized wine. Saint Martin was the first Catholic saint who was not a martyr; he was a bishop of the city of Tours, and was also known as the patron saint of France. Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates him on the 24th November under the name of Saint Mrata- ’’Mratindan’’.
The opening and the first night of the ’’4th Novemberfest’’ was held at the oldest restaurant in Zagreb, “Pod starim krovovima”, which is located in the Upper Town and dates from 1830. Gastronomically, the evening was filled with Serbian products, old cow’s milk cheese, kaymak, ajvar, prosciutto, pork rinds were on the menu, all with top-quality indigenous wines of the brand “Vila Vina” (Prokupac and Tamyanka) from the Winery ’’Milosavljević’’,Trstenik. The best Serbian vanilla cupcakes, called ’’Savršenilice’’, were served for dessert, and the ladies were served, along with the dessert, with the Bermet (red) wine, which is the top-class Serbian dessert wine, from the Winery “Kiš”.
On the second day of the festival, the plan was to visit several wine destinations. The first destination was picnic area Polovanec.
The Winery ’’Polovanec’’
Just twenty minutes’ drive from the centre of Zagreb, the Polovanec family built a small paradise, a picnic area in the middle of the vineyard, to which everyone is welcome to relax and enjoy local cuisine and local wines. When it comes to the winemakers of the city of Zagreb, the Polovanec family is the most award-winning, and all family members are involved in the development of wine and rural tourism.
Our crew was welcomed by Mr. Miroslav Polovanec, who gave us the tour of the winery. The wine tasting started with the wines from 2019, where the sparkling wine ’’Jana’’ was tasted first. After this, the young Chardonnay, grown in the region of Prigorje and Plešivice, got its turn. Barrique Chardonnay is one of the shinest jewels in the Polovanec cellar. Kraljevina (sometimes called imbrina) and Portugieser, made from indigenous vine types of northwestern Croatia, were tasted as well.
For the end of our wine tasting , three best vine types were left, namely Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Cabarnet Sauvignon Barrique is the most exclusive wine of the Winery ’’Polovanec’’, making it the most loved among the consumers as well. Because of its positive characteristics, it is also called a “wine cure” for blood vessels. The 2016 ’’Polovanec’’ Winery’s Cabarnet Sauvignon won a gold medal at a competition in Croatia, while it won bronze at the prestigious Decanter competition.
Family Farm Manor ’’Kurija Žunec’’
The next destination was a visit to an idyllic farmhouse, ’’Kurija Žunec’’. It is a family farmhouse, located on the slopes of Mount Medvednica, built out of new materials but in the spirit of tradition. The whole interior is decorated as a family farm manor, with ethno motifs of the area, hunting room, fireplace and bedrooms, with embroidery on towels and beds … With its charm and environment ’’Kurija Žunec’’ represents an ideal escape to romanticized old times . In addition to traditional gastronomic deacons and comfortable accommodation, the manor also offers horseback riding, nature and vineyards walks. When it comes to wines, ’’Kurija Žunec’’ produces only three varieties, Kraljevina, Portugieser and Škrlet wine.
The thing what makes ’’Kurija Žunec’’ special, are the local products in the form of jams, brandies, liqueurs, whilst the most famous brands of ’’Kurija Žunec’’ are natural apple juice and strawberry brandy. The apple juice they produce, does not contain sugar, but only more varieties of apple, having an invigorating effect, as if you are drinking the most divine nectar, while the taste of strawberry brandy is so full and thick, as if you were melting the most delicious forest strawberries in your mouth that show traces of alcohol.
The Family Bregant
Our host and organiser of the Novemberfest in Zagreb, was Mr. Robert Bregant, President of the Wine Roads of Croatia Association, a member of the Bregant family who has been living in Zagreb since 1860. According to him, the idea of establishing the association came about four years ago in Belgrade, in the apartment of his longtime friend Zoran Rapajić, the president of the Wine Roads of Serbia Association. Only one glass of good wine is enough for a good idea, and for a great idea, however, it takes a few glasses of excellent wine, he was encouraged, on thinking about the Wine Roads of Croatia Association and cross-border wine cooperation between the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Serbia, by enjoying the ’’Sveti gral’’ Prokupac wine from the Winery ’’Kosta Botunjac’’ in the company of Mr. Rapajić.