Did you know that Baranja in Hungarian means – mother of wine? No? Well, remember that information and if you happen to find yourself there, enjoy the premium wines. Baranja is in the northeast corner of Croatia, between the Danube and Drava rivers, stretching to the Hungarian border. The region is known by the Kopački Rit Nature Park on the mentioned rivers, vineyards and wineries, great cuisine, traditional villages, world renowned hunting and broad fertile fields.
This is where the WOW girls headed out to, to Banova Kosa where for centuries vines have been grown, the place even the Romans used to call – Golden Hill. The name came from the golden drink which has always flowed from its slopes. Vineyards were alive even during the Turkish rule and have survived to this day. A two-day outing for fifteen WOW members was prepared by sisters from Baranja, winemakers and WOW members Sibila and Kinga Kolar, with the aid of Stanka Miljković, doing their best for everything to be pleasant and lovely, as well as educational and unforgettable.
WOW girls first arrived to Ethno Village Karanac, then to the very heart of Baranja – Suza, rich in wonderful, hard-working and hospitable people, but also in tasty food, superior and far-known culinary specialities and of course, fine wines made by top-notch winemakers. The kind hosts toured their guests through Baranja wine roads and cellars to taste irresistible wines. WOW member toured and met six family wine cellars in just two days: Svijetli Dvori, Szabó, Kolar, Pinkert, Kusić and Josić.
First stop: Ethno Village Karanac, more precisely the Svijetli Dvori winery and owners Julijana Seleši Novački and husband. Svijetli Dvori were founded in 2012 in the family farm Janoš Seleši, offering tastings of quality, superior and predicate wines with a signature of Baranja and Ethno Village Karanac. The Seleši family grows the Graševina, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Gris varieties – 9 labels in total. Julijana prepared for her guests an amazing wild game roast, while her husband personally led a wine tasting along with lunch. Offered were Graševina Premium 2016, Chardonnay 2016 and Graševina Late Harvest (from Jarčevo hill). Especially impressive was the Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, a young fresh red wine of light body, shortly kept in a barrique barrel. In the end, to honour Pink Day, we tasted their rosé.
After the tasty lunch with the Seleš Novački family, WOW girls continued on to the Szabó family cellar, also in Karanac, where they were met by – women. They were generous and smiling, in good spirit and hospitable mother and sisters Anastazia and Andrea. The Szabó family from Karanac has been in viticulture and winemaking for several decades. Their vineyards are on a very attractive location of southern climate on Banska Kosa, offering superior and quality dry wines with protected geographic origin, from the varieties Graševina, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. They also have a rosé. After the mandatory joint photo outside the house, came a wine presentation in the nicely decorated tasting room with wooden benches over a hundred years old. Anastazia led the presentation and pointed out the varieties tasted are grown on around 4.5 hectares. We began with the Graševina 2015 fresh wine with pronounced citrus notes and full body. Then came the Rose Fantazija 2015 and Sauvignon Blanc 2015, a slightly atypical Sauvignon with scents reminiscent of ripe fruit, honey and apricot. Then we met the Pinot Blanc 2015, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (aged 9 months in barrique barrels) and Merlot 2015. All bottles of these wines were adorned with labels representing the wonderful traditional Baranja lace. Mother Szabó prepared fine snacks – bread with homemade paté and bread with pork lard and red paprika. We also met the father, head of the family and famous winemaker, so he would be personally convinced there are women who are interested and knowledgeable about wines just like his daughters.
After Karanac, WOW girls proceeded to Suza, a small picturesque village in the heart of Baranja, surrounded by the Danube, vineyards and endless fields.
The Baranja wine adventure continued the next fay in the Pinkert family winery, headed not only by their famous father, but also a dynamic and strong female duo – sisters Kristina and Renata who welcomed the WOW girls heartily. This family winery in Suza has been in viticulture and winemaking for generations. Vineyards stretch for 15 hectares, nestled on the Baranja hill at 198 metres above sea level on an exceptionally favourable position for vine growing. The wine story of the Pinkert family began in the 1900s with the planting over just several vines and a small family cellar on the slopes of Bansko Brdo near Suza. The Pinkert sisters greeted their guests with a fine meal and tasting of several wine samples of Graševina, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Yellow Muscat, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Frankovka, Portugizac and Merlot – with a superior label. The Pinkert wine bottles have a very interesting, special and feminine label with a tulip flower Kristina is very proud of, as her idea has been commended and awarded many times. This is how entrepreneurial women work, and here is a quote from their brochure: “Proud and strong, decisive and self-confident, gentle and feminine. These are our women. Such women carry this winery.” What else to say than: Bravo!
The next stop on the Baranja WOW wine tour was Zmajevac, specifically the Kusić cellar where the WOW girls were again greeted as queens by the winemaker Kusić and his wife. They told us a short story of the winery, we toured the lovely cellar and neighbouring vineyards. Kusić cellars and vineyards are in the area of Banska Kosa known as “Small Hill” and stretch for 9 hectares. Grace to very fertile soil and favourable climate they successfully produce superior wines. The tasting room is in the vineyards, enabling comfortable enjoyment of wine. After the presentation came a small snack and wine tasting: Graševina 2014, light flaunting wine with green-gold colour, flower aromas and green apple scent: then a new rosé, a coupage of Samotok, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Nero – semi-sweet refreshing taste; Sauvignon 2014 of a pleasant flowery aroma and Cabernet Sauvignon prepared in barrels of Slavonian oak. The kind Kusić family invited the WOW girls to come back with their families and friends to their area as they will soon have accommodation alongside their vineyards.
For the end of the WOW road trip, the Baranja wine road ended in the tour of the winery, wine tasting and lunch with renowned winemaker Josić.
The Josić family is from Osijek, purchasing an old wine cellar in Baranja in 1999, dating from 1935. They restored it, but kept the traditional appearance and furnished it with modern technology. At the same time, they bought old plantations of vines. The quality Josić wines are made form authentic Baranja varieties of grapes from their vineyards on Banova Kosa. Love, ambition, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit have led to excellent results and many recognitions and awards for Josić wines. WOW girls tasted several labels of their wines such as Graševina Superior, Graševina ice wine and Graševina late harvest of dried grapes, a well-known rosé (from Pinot Nero), Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Cuvee Muscat as well as Cabernet Sauvignon superior and Cuvee superior. Especially delightful was the semi-sweet Traminac and renowned label Cicogna Negra (a coupage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot). The gastronomy offer of the Josić restaurant has specialties of fresh water fish – perkelt, stews, smoked fish as well as meat and venison dishes prepared on a charcoal grill, under the bell, on the spit… with unavoidable goulashes and čobanac. This lunch made only for WOW girls will be remembered for long, just like their selected and superior wines.
Full of impressions the WOW girls agreed this was one of the nicer outings where they met hard-working winemakers and their families. We thank the diligent Baranja branch of the WOW association Sibila, Kinga and Julijana for their hospitality and organisation of this tour in their picturesque area surrounded by the beauty of the Danube, vineyards and endless fields. Their love for Baranja and passion in creating their memorable wines will not leave anyone uninterested, just like the WOW girls who went home bedazzled and blushed.
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