Sunday, 6 June 2021

Plešivica Sparkling Wines Served With Breakfast at Special Event

June 6, 2021 - Guests enjoyed a pleasant encounter with the best selection of Plešivica sparkling wines and breakfast snacks, in the hills outside Zagreb.

A sparkling breakfast in the Chez Suzy vineyard for the weekend was the real formula for outdoor hedonism, reports Turističke Priče. At Plešivica, Šember wineries, Šoškić court wines, Drago Damir Režek, and a guest from the Krašić vineyards, Šimanović winery, presented their sparkling wines for which this wine region is famous. In addition to Plešivica sparkling wines, guests enjoyed strawberries and indigenous products of Zagreb County and copanjek, and homemade game salami. As an announcement of the upcoming Sparkling Zagorje breakfast in Zagorje, štruklji, zlevanka, cheeses, chocolate mousses, and chocolate cake were also served.

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Salon of Sparkling Wines

The novelty of this year's Sparkling Breakfast edition was the guided pairing of food and Plešivica sparkling wines. The event was driven by the idea of ​​the hostess Suzana Košćak, gastronomy students Izabela Andrašić, Adrian Karačić, Filip Poštenik, Bruno, Karić cooked at the event. The menus were paired with champagnes, after a hearty breakfast dominated by cheeses and strawberries, continued with freshly baked homemade focaccia and steak tartare that future chefs prepared next to the guests. It was a real "cooking show", and then from a small three delicious risottos came out in hot kitchens full of original ideas, the first with apple and celery, the second with asparagus, the third with strawberries. An additional joy of pairing was homemade macarons with champagne. Demanding but purposefully selected, the yellow lemon cream cookies were paired with white brut champagnes, and the pink champagnes matched the pink strawberry sour cream cookies. Macarons were made by a gastronomy student, Ana Tokić.

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Salon of Sparkling Wines

The eye pleased, the palate celebrated, and the wines matched. The snacks were mesmerizing and the guests truly enjoyed themselves. An additional interesting and refined gathering was the presentation of a new wine from each winery, the so-called "An example of Plešivica". In this part of the program, Šember winery presented its new Chardonnay 2020, Šoškić wines, Sauvignon blanc 2020, Drago Damir Režek wines - Pinot Noir 2017, Šimanović wines presented Frankovka 2017. A special surprise of the day was Šoškić brandy, many did not know that such a pearl exists on Plešivica, it was sipped with gusto, gentlemen "spiced" it with cigars, and ladies with cigarillos. As an additional spice to the wonderful country atmosphere, similar to Provencal, served antique props from the Comedy Theater as well as tables and accessories from DVD Plešivica.

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Salon of Sparkling Wines

Delighted guests, sparkling wine lovers, but also wine connoisseurs, sommelier, oenologists, wine merchants, in pleasant conversations with winemakers learned about Plešivica wines and selected snacks and the potential of various forms of tourist offer Plešivica in the context of branding wine destinations and entire vineyards through targeted, smaller events.

Croatian wines and grapes are among the best in the world, and you can find more information about them in Total Croatia’s Guide to Croatian Wine HERE. Total Croatia’s articles are now available in your language!

For all you need to know about Zagreb in 2021, make sure to bookmark Zagreb in a Page.

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Pay for a Wine and Tourist Tour in Dubrovnik with Cryptocurrencies!

March 30, 2021 - After a unique local tourist experience, it's time for fine wine, but what if you only have cryptocurrencies? Say no more. With Ivan Vuković and Sasha Lušić, you can pay for a wine and tourist tour in Dubrovnik with cryptocurrencies.

"Many tourists do not carry cash with them, and people from developed countries do not handle cash at all. Although they have been in circulation for 60 years, cards are still a high-tech thing for us, and we are afraid to embrace the novelties," says Ivan Vuković, a tourist guide of Dubrovnik.

Paying with cryptocurrencies is very simple - you can have a card or a mobile option, which converts all payments into currency. "Simple, contactless - which is important for covid regulations and one more way of paying," says Sasha Lusic, the owner of D'vino wine bar Dubrovnik.

Book a trip and pay with crypto or order your favorite wine and pay for it in the same way - life has become simpler. These two entrepreneurs are also targeting the younger gadget clientele because, as they say, it is sometimes difficult to change the habits of the older clientele.

Ivan and Sasha say the pandemic has given them a chance to reset and turn to slower and more sustainable tourism. "Why not offer something sustainable while letting people know that we follow trends," say these entrepreneurs, adding that cryptocurrencies are gold today.

"Unfortunately, it is easy to be successful in Croatia because people are passive. Sad but true," says Ivan. "Sasha and I are constantly exchanging ideas, thinking, putting things on paper. We are not passive; we follow trends very closely."

After considering the idea, they made a few calls about whether it is possible to charge in that way. When the software engineers confirmed that is possible to do that, they just went for it. Some hotels and gas stations already have this option, but in the circles of wineries and tourist guides, payment in cryptocurrencies does not exist.

Ultimately, they are hoping for a more significant inflow of money, precisely because many people keep their money in various cryptocurrencies. They have to spend the money they earn by trading cryptocurrencies.

"Of course, everything depends on the season, but with this, we are doing a long-term story. Also, we are the first to remember," concludes Ivan.

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

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Monday, 22 March 2021

Kvarner Wines in Spotlight: Two "Sparkling Kvarner” Workshops held in Zagreb

March 22, 2021 - Hotel Dubrovnik announced the 5th Salon of Sparkling Wines with two sparkling Kvarner workshops on Friday, March 19.

Fiuman reports that two sparkling wine workshops were held in front of loyal visitors: Sparkling Kvarner and Natural Sparkling (Croatia & Slovenia).

At the first workshop, six wines produced by the pét-nat method (fr. pétillant naturel) were presented at a "blind" tasting. With the leader dr. Sc. Nina Levičnik, the founder of the Salon of Sparkling Wines network and a big fan of "natural" sparkling wines, the participants learned what the terms pét-nat, méthode ancestrale, and col fondo have in common and how they differ from other methods.

The presenter emphasized the importance of "terroir" in wine production with this ancestral method. The Croatian representatives were Tomac, Šember, Veralda, and the Slovenian Atimo, Keltis, and Štemberger.

At the second workshop, participants learned that Kvarner is the third Croatian wine region in terms of sparkling wine production. The recently founded the Kvarner Wine Association which today has as many as 10 sparkling wine producers who were presented at the workshop under the auspices of the Kvarner Tourist Board. Sparkling wines in Kvarner are produced from the original varieties - žlahtina, belica, mast - charmat, and the traditional method. 

The moderator, Dr. sc. Žarko Stilin, secretary of the Kvarner Wine Association, one of the loudest promoters of original Kvarner wine varieties, organizer of several wine events, the most important of which is the International Wine and Gastronomic Festival WineRi, spoke about the interesting and special features of Kvarner sparkling wines.

Participants tasted 10 sparkling wines: Maličić winery Šipun, Porin Estate Winery Katunar, Valomet PZ Vrbnik, Gospoja PZ Gospoja, San Marino Wine houses Pavlomir, Soubze catering and Nada shop, Stara Bakarska Vodica PZ Dolčina Praputnjak, Biser žlahtine Ivan Katunar - Plovanić vina and Ružić - OPG Ružić.

Workshop leader dr. sc. Žarko Stilin proudly stated that sparkling wines in Kvarner have a long tradition, and with the Kvarner Wine Association, the promotion will be even more visible through many activities, education on table culture, organization of round tables, lectures, and scientific conferences to promote Kvarner with the support of Kvarner Tourist Board.

The wine workshops were an introduction to other sparkling events ahead of the 5th Salon of Sparkling Wine Zagreb, on June 11, 2021, on the Oleander terrace of the Hotel Esplanade. The date has been targeted to meet the summer and the upcoming tourist season when the consumption of sparkling wines will be more frequent than usual and any promotion is welcome.

For more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

27th Vinistra Wine Manifestation Comes Back to Poreč in May 2021

March 2, 2021 – Good news for all wine lovers, experts, and winemakers, as the 27th Vinistra wine manifestation will take place from 7 to 9 May 2021 in Poreč, together with its traditional overture, 12th International Evaluation "World of Malvasia."

If there are no surprises and if the epidemiological measures allow it, the 27th Vinistra wine manifestation will be held this year after a one-year break due to the coronavirus pandemic. The preparations are underway, and this year's organizers have a somewhat more difficult task because everything should follow the Headquarters' measures and recommendations.

"As we did not hold the traditional En Primeur in Zagreb this year due to epidemiological measures, Vinistra will be an excellent opportunity to present new vintage wines, excellent in all characteristics, especially for red varieties. For us winemakers, the only positive side of 2020 was the exceptional harvest. The last two years have hit the wine and tourism sector hard, so we are very much looking forward to this year's event, meeting our partners, customers, and lovers of Istrian wines," said Nikola Benvenuti, president of Vinistra, winemakers' association, and winegrower.

He adds that the location and accompanying program will depend on epidemiological measures.

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Vinistra

Traditionally, the best overture for Vinistra is the international evaluation named the World of Malvasia, which will be held for the 12th time, from April 12 to 16, 2021, at the Parentium Plava Laguna Hotel in Poreč. Year after year, the World of Malvasia breaks records in quality and number of samples.

"The informal world championship of the most famous Istrian variety is being held this year as part of a three-day international evaluation of wine and spirits, which brings together the most famous wine experts from Croatia and the region. Of course, everything will be in line with epidemiological measures because our health and safety come first. As usual, the evaluation results will be made public as part of the 27th Vinistra," says Benvenuti.

As 24sata recalls, the traditional Vinistra fair was held in the Žatika hall in Poreč for years before the tradition was interrupted for the first time last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Almost all important politicians, presidents, businessmen used to come to Vinistra, as well as those who wanted to be photographed or filmed by journalists while they are enjoying the top drops of 'grape' juice.

Vinistra is a regional and international exhibition of Istrian wines and equipment for viticulture and winemaking. The longest-running exhibition of this type is traditionally held in the Istrian town of Poreč. The fair consists of an evaluation and exhibition part, and besides wine, olive oils and brandies are also evaluated.

Istria is continually improving wine quality and is a top eno-gastronomic destination. This is confirmed by the constant increase in the number of indigenous varieties' samples, more quality of average wine samples, and new names awarded by an expert jury every year.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 19 February 2021

People also ask Google: What is Croatia Famous For?

February 19, 2021 – What is Croatia Famous For?

People outside of the country really want to know more about Croatia. They search for answers online.

Here, we'll try to answer the popular search terms “What is Croatia famous for?” and “What is Croatia known for?”

Most of the people looking for answers to these questions have never been to Croatia. They may have been prompted to ask because they're planning to visit Croatia, they want to come to Croatia, or because they heard about Croatia on the news or from a friend.

What Croatia is known for depends on your perspective. People who live in the country sometimes have a very different view of what Croatia is famous for than the rest of the world. And, after visiting Croatia, people very often leave with a very different opinion of what Croatia is known for than before they came. That's because Croatia is a wonderful country, full of surprises and secrets to discover. And, it's because internet searches don't reveal everything. Luckily, you have Total Croatia News to do that for you.

What is Croatia known for?

1) Holidays


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Croatia is best known globally as a tourist destination. Catching sight of pictures of the country online is enough to make almost anyone want to come. If you've heard about it from a friend, seen the country used in a TV show like Game of Thrones or Succession, or watched a travel show, your mind will be made up. Following such prompts, it's common for Croatia to move to first place on your bucket list. If it's not already, it should be, There are lots of reasons why Croatia is best known for holidays (vacations).

a) Islands


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What is Croatia famous for? Islands © Mljet National Park

Within Croatia's tourist offer, its most famous aspect is its islands. Croatia has over a thousand islands - 1246 when you include islets. 48 Croatian islands are inhabited year-round, but many more come to life over the warmer months. Sailing in Croatia is one of the best ways to see the islands, and if you're looking for a place for sailing in the Mediterranean, Croatia is the best choice because of its wealth of islands. These days, existing images of Croatia's islands have been joined by a lot more aerial photography and, when people see these, they instantly fall in love.

b) Beaches


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What is Croatia famous for? Its holidays are famous for their beaches © Szabolcs Emich

Croatia has 5835 kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Sea - 1,777.3 kilometres of coast on the mainland, and a further 4,058 kilometres of coast around its islands and islets. The Croatian coast is the most indented of the entire Mediterranean. This repeated advance and retreat into the Adriatic forms a landscape littered with exciting, spectacular peninsulas, quiet, hidden bays, and some of the best beaches in the world. There are so many beaches in Croatia, you can find a spot to suit everyone. On the island of Pag and in the Zadar region, you'll find beaches full of young people where the party never stops. Elsewhere, romantic and elegant seafood restaurants hug the shoreline. Beach bars can range from ultra-luxurious to basic and cheap. The beaches themselves can be popular and full of people, facilities, excitement and water sports, or they can be remote, idyllic, and near-deserted, accessible only by boat. Sand, pebble, and stone all line the perfectly crystal-clear seas which are the common feature shared by all.

c) Dubrovnik


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What is Croatia famous for? Dubrovnik © Ivan Ivanković

As a backdrop to Game Of Thrones and movies from franchises like Star Wars and James Bond, Dubrovnik is known all over the world. Everybody wants to see it in person, and that's why it's an essential stop-off for so many huge cruise ships in warmer months. But, Dubrovnik's fame did not begin with the invention of film and television. The city was an autonomous city-state for long periods of time in history, and Dubrovnik was known all over Europe – the famous walls which surround the city of Dubrovnik are a testament to a desire to maintain its independent standing for centuries while living in the shadow of expanding, ambitious empires.

d) Heritage


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What is Croatia famous for? Heritage. Pula amphitheatre is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world

The walled city of Dubrovnik is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Croatia's rich architectural and ancient heritage. Diocletian's Palace in Split is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still the living, breathing centre of life in the city (that people still live within it and it is not preserved in aspic is one of its most charming features and no small reason for its excellent preservation).

Having existed on the line of European defence against the Ottoman empire, Croatia also has many incredible fortresses and castles. The fortresses of Sibenik are well worth seeing if you're visiting Sibenik-Knin County and its excellent coast. A small number of Croatia's best castles exist on the coast, Rijeka's Trsat and Nova Kraljevica Castle is nearby Bakar being two of them. Most of Croatia's best and prettiest castles are actually located in its continental regions which, compared to the coast, remain largely undiscovered by most international tourists.

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Many spectacular castles in the country's continental regions are, for these parts, what is Croatia famous for

Pula amphitheatre (sometimes referred to as Pula Arena) is one of the largest and best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world. A spectacular sight year-round, like Diocletian's Palace, it remains a living part of the city's life, famously hosting an international film festival, concerts by orchestras, opera stars, and famous rock and pop musicians. Over recent years, it has also played a part in the city's music festivals.

e) Music Festivals


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What is Croatia famous for? Music festivals © Khris Cowley

There is a very good reason why the city of Pula leapt massively up the list of most-researched online Croatian destinations over the last decade. It played host to two of the country's most famous international music festivals. Though the music at some of these can be quite niche, the global attention they have brought to the country is simply massive. Clever modern branding and marketing by the experienced international operators who host their festivals in Croatia mean that millions of young people all over the world have seen videos, photos and reviews of Croatia music festivals, each of them set within a spectacular backdrop of seaside Croatia.

f) Plitvice Lakes and natural heritage


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What is Croatia Famous For? Plitvice Lakes, national parks and natural heritage

Known for its chain of 16 terraced lakes and gushing waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes is the oldest, biggest and most famous National Park in Croatia. Everybody wants to see it. And many do. But that's not the be-all and end-all of Croatia's stunning natural beauty. Within the country's diverse topography, you'll find 7 further National Parks and 12 Nature Parks which can be mountain terrain, an archipelago of islands, or vibrant wetlands.

2) Football


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What is Croatia famous for? Football. Seen here, Luka Modric at the 2018 World Cup © Светлана Бекетова

The glittering international careers of Croatian footballers Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Ivan Perišić, Mario Mandžukić, and others have in recent years advertised Croatia as a factory of top-flight footballing talent. They helped put Croatia football on the map with fans of European football. Football fans in Croatia have a very different perception of just how famous Croatian football is to everyone else in the world. If you talk to a Croatian fan about football, it's almost guaranteed that they will remind you of a time (perhaps before either of you were born) when their local or national team beat your local or national team in football. 99% of people will have no idea what they are talking about. The past occasions which prompt this parochial pride pale into insignificance against the Croatian National Football Team's achievement in reaching the World Cup Final of 2018. This monumental occasion brought the eyes of the world on Croatia, extending way beyond the vision of regular football fans. Subsequently, the internet exploded with people asking “Where is Croatia?”

Sports in general are what is Croatia known for

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Croatians are enthusiastic about sports and engage in a wide number of them. The difference in perception between how Croats view the fame this gets them and the reality within the rest of the world is simply huge. Rowing, basketball, wrestling, mixed martial arts, tennis, handball, boxing, waterpolo, ice hockey, skiing and volleyball are just some of the sports in which Croatia has enthusiastically supported individuals and local and national teams. Some of these are regarded as minority sports even in other countries that also pursue them. Croatians don't understand this part. If you say to a Croatian “What is handball? I never heard of that,” they will look at you like you are crazy or of below-average intelligence.

3) Zagreb


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What is Croatia famous for? Its capital city Zagreb is becoming increasingly better known

Over relatively recent years, the Croatian capital has skyrocketed in terms of fame and visitor numbers. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world now come to visit Zagreb each year. Its massive new success can be partly attributed to the rising popularity of international tourism in some areas of Asia (and Zagreb being used as a setting for some television programmes made in some Asian countries) and the massive success of Zagreb's Advent which, after consecutively attaining the title of Best European Christmas Market three times in a row, has become famous throughout the continent and further still. Zagreb's fame is not however restricted to tourism. Zagreb is known for its incredible Austro-Hungarian architecture, its Upper Town (Gornji Grad) and the buildings there, an array of museums and city centre parks and as home to world-famous education and scientific institutions, like to Ruder Boskovic Institute and the Faculty of Economics, University of Zagreb.

4) Olive oil


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What is Croatia famous for? Olive oil

Croatian olive oil is the best in the world. Don't just take out word for it! Even the experts say so. In 2020, leading guide Flos Olei voted Istria in northwest Croatia as the world's best olive oil growing region for a sixth consecutive year. Olive oil production is an ancient endeavour in Croatia, and over hundreds of years, the trees have matured, and the growers learned everything there is to know. Olive oil is made throughout a much wider area of Croatia than just Istria, and local differences in climate, variety, and soil all impact the flavour of the oils produced. Croatian has no less than five different olive oils protected at a European level under the designation of their place of origin. These and many other Croatian olive oils are distinct and are among the best you're ever likely to try.

5) There was a war here


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What is Croatia famous for? A relatively recent war left its mark on the country © Modzzak

Under rights granted to the republics of the former Yugoslavia and with a strong mandate from the Croatian people, gained across two national referendums, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic country, with each republic containing a mixture of different ethnicities and indeed many families which themselves were the product of mixed ethnicities. Ethnic tensions and the rise of strong nationalist political voices in each of the former republics and within certain regions of these countries lead to a situation where war became inevitable. The worst of the fighting was suffered within Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina and the part of southern Serbia which is now Kosovo. The Croatian War of Independence (known locally as the Homeland War) lasted from 1991 – 1995. The Yugoslav wars of which it was a major part is regarded as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II. In many cases, this war pitted neighbouring houses or neighbouring villages against each other and sometimes members of the same family could be found on opposing sides. The war left huge damage on the country and its infrastructure, some of which is still visible. Worse still, it had a much greater physical and psychological impact on the population. Some people in Croatia today would rather not talk about the war and would prefer to instead talk about the country's present and future. For other people in Croatia, the war remains something of an obsession. If you are curious about the Croatian War of Independence, it is not advisable to bring it up in conversation when you visit the country unless you know the person you are speaking with extremely well. It is a sensitive subject for many and can unnecessarily provoke strong emotions and painful memories. There are many resources online where you can instead read all about the war, there are good documentary series about it on Youtube and there are several museums in Croatia where you can go and learn more, in Vukovar, Karlovac and in Zagreb.

6) Wine


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What is Croatia famous for? Its wine is some of the best you'll ever try © Plenković

Croatia is not really that famous for wine. Well, not as famous as it should be because Croatia makes some of the greatest wine on the planet. Croatian wine is only really famous to those who have tried it after visiting – you'll never forget it! A growing cabal of Croatian wine enthusiasts are trying their best internationally to spread the word about Croatian wine. However, there isn't really that much space in Croatia to make all the wine it needs to supply its homegrown demands and a greatly increased export market. Therefore, export prices of Croatian wine are quite high and even when it does reach foreign shores, these prices ensure its appreciation only by a select few. There's a popular saying locally that goes something like this “We have enough for ourselves and our guests”. Nevertheless, Croatian wine is frequently awarded at the most prestigious international competitions and expos. White wine, red wine, sparkling wine, cuvee (mixed) and rose wine are all made here and Croatia truly excels at making each. You can find different kinds of grape grown and wine produced in the different regions of Croatia. The best way to learn about Croatian wine is to ask someone who really knows about wine or simply come to Croatia to try it. Or, perhaps better still, don't do that and then there will be more for those of us who live here. Cheers!

7) Croatian produce


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Drniš prsut
is protected at a European level, one of 32 products currently protected in this way and therefore what is Croatia famous for © Tourist Board of Drniš

To date, 32 agricultural and food products from Croatia have attained protection at a European level. These range from different prosciuttos, olive oils and Dalmatian bacon, to pastries and pastas, honey, cheese, turkeys, lamb, cabbages, mandarins, salt, sausages, potatoes and something called Meso 'z tiblice (which took a friend from the region where it's made three days to fully research so he could explain it to me at the levels necessary to write an informed article about it – so, you can research that one online). While some prosciutto, bacon, sausages, olive oil and wine do make it out of Croatia, much of these are snaffled up by a discerning few of those-in-the-know. The rest, you will only really be able to try if you visit. And, there are many other items of Croatian produce which are known which you can also try while here

Truffles


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What is Croatia known for? Truffles © Donatella Paukovic

By weight, one of the most expensive delicacies in the world, truffles are a famous part of the cuisine within some regions of Croatia. They feature heavily in the menu of Istria, which is well known as a region in which both white and black truffles are found and then added to food, oils or other products. Truth be told, this isn't a black and white issue - there are a great number of different types of truffle and they can be found over many different regions in Croatia, including around Zagreb and in Zagreb County. But, you'll need to see a man about a dog if you want to find them yourself.

Vegeta


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What is Croatia known for? Vegeta

Having celebrated its 60th birthday in 2019, the cooking condiment Vegeta is exported and known in many other countries, particularly Croatia's close neighbours. It is popularly put into soups and stews to give them more flavour. Among its ingredients are small pieces of dehydrated vegetables like carrot, parsnip, onion, celery, plus spices, salt and herbs like parsley.

Chocolate


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What is Croatia known for? Chocolate is a big export© Alexander Stein

Though making chocolate is only around a century old in Croatia, Croatian chocolate has grown to become one of its leading manufactured food exports. Some of the most popular bars may be a little heavy on sugar and low on cocoa for more discerning tastes. But, lots of others really like it.

Beer


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What is Croatia famous for? Its beer is becoming more famous internationally © The Garden Brewery

The exploding growth of the Croatian craft ale scene over the last 10 years is something that is likely to have passed you by, unless you're a regular visitor to the country, a beer buff or both. Most of the producers are quite small and production not great enough to make a big splash on international markets. However, even within a craft-flooded current market, Croatian beer is becoming more widely known – in one poll, the Zagreb-based Garden Brewery was in 2020 voted Europe's Best Brewery for the second consecutive year

8) Innovation


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What is Croatia famous for? Pioneers, inventors and innovation. Nikola Tesla was born here

From the parachute, fingerprinting, the retractable pen and the tungsten filament electric light-bulb to the torpedo, modern seismology, the World Health Oganisation and the cravat (a necktie, and the precursor to the tie worn by many today), Croatia has gifted many innovations to the world. The list of pioneers - scientists, artists, researchers and inventors - who were born here throughout history is long. And, although innovation is not currently regarded as experiencing a golden period in Croatia, there are still some Croatian innovators whose impact is felt globally, such as electric hypercar maker Mate Rimac.

9) Being poor


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What is Croatia famous for? Being poor. Yikes!

The minimum wage in Croatia is among the lowest in Europe. Croatian language media is constantly filled with stories about corruption. There is a huge state apparatus in which key (if not most) positions are regarded to be politically or personally-motivated appointments. This leads to a lack of opportunity for Croatia's highly educated young people. Many emigrate for better pay and better opportunities. This leads to a brain drain and affects the country's demographics considerably (if it usually the best educated, the ablest and the youngest Croatian adults who emigrate). Many of those who stay are influenced by the stories of widespread corruption and lack of opportunity and are therefore lethargic in their work, leading to a lack of productivity. A considerable part of the Croatian economy is based on tourism which remains largely seasonal.

10) People want to live in Croatia


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What is Croatia famous for? People want to come and live here. No, really.

Yes, despite many younger Croatians leaving or dreaming of leaving and despite the low wages, many people who are not from Croatia dream about living here. Of course, it's an all too familiar scenario that you go on holiday somewhere and while sitting at a seafood restaurant in sight of a glorious sunset, having had a few too many glasses of the local wine, you fall in love with Miguel or however the waiter is called who served it and Miguel's homeland. But, with Croatia, this is actually no passing fancy, no idle holiday dream. People do decide to move here. And not just for the sunset and Miguel (nobody in Croatia is called Miguel - Ed).

Croatia may be known for being poor, but it also has one of the best lifestyles in Europe. That it's cafe terraces are usually full to capacity tells you something about the work to living ratio. Croatians are not just spectators of sport, many enjoy a healthy lifestyle. This informs everything from their pastimes to their diet. There are great facilities for exercise and sport, wonderful nature close by whichever part of the country you're in. You can escape into somewhere wonderful and unknown at a moment's notice. The country is well connected internally by brilliant roads and motorways, reliable intercity buses and an international train network. The tourism industry ensures that multiple airports across Croatia can connect you to almost anywhere you want to go, and major international airports in Belgrade and Budapest, just a couple of hours away, fly to some extremely exotic locations. There are a wealth of fascinating neighbour countries on your doorstep to explore on a day trip or weekend and superfast broadband is being rolled out over the entire country. This is perhaps one of the reasons Croatia has been heralded as one of the world's best options for Digital Nomads. In a few years, when we ask what is Croatia famous far, they could be one of the answers.

What is Croatia famous for, but only after you've visited

Some things you experience when you visit Croatia come as a complete surprise. Most would simply never be aware of them until they visit. They are usually top of the list of things you want to do when you come back to Croatia.

Gastronomy


fritaja_sparoge_1-maja-danica-pecanic_1600x900ntbbbbb.jpgGastronomy is only one of the things what is Croatia known for only after you've visited © Maja Danica Pecanic / Croatian National Tourist Board

Despite a few famous TV chefs having visited and filmed in Croatia over the years, Croatian gastronomy remains largely unknown to almost everyone who's never been to Croatia. That's a shame because you can find some fine food here. Croatia has increased its Michelin-starred and Michelin-recommended restaurants tenfold over recent years. But, perhaps the bigger story is the traditional cuisine which varies greatly within the countries different regions. From the gut-busting barbecue grills and the classic Mediterranean fare of Dalmatia to the pasta, asparagus and truffles of Istria to the sausages and paprika-rich stews of Slavonia and the best smoked and preserved meats of the region, there's an untold amount of secret Croatian gastronomy to discover.

Coffee


restaurant-3815076_1280.jpgWhat is Croatia known for? Well, to locals, it's famous for coffee - not just a drink, it's a ritual

Croatians are passionate about coffee and about going for coffee. It's a beloved ritual here. Going for coffee in Croatia is often about much more than having coffee. It's an integral part of socialising, catching up and sometimes being seen. It doesn't always involve coffee either. Sometimes, you'll be invited for coffee, only to end up ordering beer. It's not about the coffee. Although, the standard of coffee in Croatia, and the places where you drink it, is usually really good.

The misapprehension: What is Croatia known for (if you are a Croatian living in Croatia)

Handball, music

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Friday, 29 January 2021

Vinart Grand Tasting: Biggest Wine Event in Croatia to be Held in Spring 2021

January 29, 2021 – Winemakers are delighted as it's announced that the Vinart Grand Tasting, the most important business wine event, will take place in the spring of 2021.

As Turizam24 reports, the Vinart Grand Tasting will be held on April 30 and May 1, 2021, in Zagreb's Lauba. The organizer, the company Vinart, moved the fair's date from the beginning of March to the beginning of May due to the uncertainty of the epidemiological situation and the duration of anti-epidemic measures.

As a reminder, last year's Vinart Grand Tasting was the last professional wine fair in Europe. It was held on March 6 and 7, 2020, just before the first lockdown, while many details about the COVID-19 virus were unknown.

"It was uncertain until the last second, and in the weeks before the fair itself, we practically didn't sleep because of worries. We prepared the program, and after the fair, we organized a study trip to Croatian wine regions for a group of about twenty important European and American journalists. We invested a considerable amount of money, hoping that we would make a big step to recognize Croatian wines and winemakers globally, and everything was so risky and uncertain. In the end, only three journalists canceled our trip, and others came and were delighted with the offer and quality of Croatian wines. We did everything in our power to eliminate the risk of transmitting the virus," says Saša Špiranec, director of Vinart.

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Wine tasting / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

At last year's fair, there was no information that anyone had become infected. From that experience, they are ready to boldly enter into the preparation of this year's edition of the fair.

If the economy doesn't restart in May, we can say goodbye to winemaking

On this occasion, Špiranec answered questions about the situation in winemaking after the pandemic 2020. As expected, the autumn wave caused the most significant damage to this branch of the economy, extremely important for the tourism sector.

"Judging by the comments we received from winemakers, last year's drop in turnover was more than obvious. Different wineries have different experiences, but the average should be between 20 and 30 percent drop overall. The year's start was a shock, and sales stalled, but a good spring and early summer made up for that decline. The second, autumn wave did more damage that was only partially offset by sales in December when many winemakers had good results in direct sales due to gifts and increased household consumption. If such problems remained in 2021, they would surely become insurmountable for many wineries. If the situation after the Easter moves towards full normalization, then most wineries will recover," said Špiranec, who explained the chosen date in the still uncertain first part of 2021.

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Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

"We have chosen dates when spring will already be in full swing. The days are long and sunny, and we believe that in the meantime, the measures and vaccination will significantly reduce the risks. We think May is the last moment for normalization, regardless of the circumstances with COVID-19, and that is why we chose the first days of May for the fair. If the economy does not start working normally in May, we can say goodbye to winemaking as its branch," concluded Špiranec, the leading Croatian expert in winemaking.

This announcement speaks best about the consequences of a pandemic. They hope that the situation will normalize after Easter. In that case, we can still expect the recovery of most stakeholders on the wine scene.

2021 is crucial for winemaking

Winemakers and wine business people are delighted by the announcement of the Vinart Grand Tasting.

"The capacity, which is further limited this year, is almost full after the first week of opening the applications. Winemakers and their customers send us numerous messages that they cannot wait for the fair and the start of activities and wine events. Now, things that they used to complain about, like too many fairs and trips, seem to them to be a blessing compared to this past year of passively waiting and staring into space," announces Špiranec.

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Vineyard in Istria / Copyright Romulić and Stojčić

It is evident that this year is crucial for winemaking. Without the opening and launch of the economy in the spring, there will be no winemaking. It remains to be seen how the situation will develop by May, but any such announcement and event that gives hope that the recovery will begin soon is optimistic. For winemakers, as well as for caterers, it is necessary to start economic activities no later than Easter. Otherwise, we will have a total collapse.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page. 

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Ludbreg Winemakers' Wines Thrive Due to God-Given Microclimate

January 23, 2021 – The feast of St Vincent's Day, Vincekovo, could not be celebrated this year due to the epidemiological situation, but Ludbreg winemakers continue to focus on their wine production. Thanks to the very favorable climate, the Ludbreg area is suitable for planting vineyards, and local winemakers hope to soon get their well-deserved place on the Croatia's wine list.

Vincekovo, which was celebrated yesterday, January 22, in the Ludbreg area, used to be celebrated in Globočec when the plantations were blessed. The main event was a traditional and unique exhibition of young wines from the Ludbreg and surrounding vineyards, which was canceled this year due to strict epidemiological measures and a challenging situation.

It is an additional blow for all caterers who suffered the most in the corona crisis and wine producers. Local winemakers and winegrowers will wait for some better times to meet and rejoice with friends.

Sanja and Tomislav Stručić, top winemakers from Ludbreg, who met with TCN in Ludbreg last year, told their business story for the Epodravina.hr portal.

Family vineyard three kilometers from the center of the world

"We were pleased by the announcement that we could reopen our doors in February, but if we won't open until Easter, as announced, the season is questionable. We are very affected," says winemaker Sanja Stručić.

However, despite the pandemic, wine lovers are not resting. Caring for the vineyards is a year-round work, essential for producing good wine. The season begins now when the first pruning is done and lasts until the harvest.

"Last year, we estimated that, given the situation with the coronavirus, we would have stocks of wine. Therefore, we reduced the grape yield during pruning in the spring. We left grapes for sparkling wine and wines to age. We want to produce quality, not quantity, that is, high-quality wines," says the Stručić family.

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Sanja and Tomislav Stručić with Paul Bradbury in 2020, Total Croatia News

Their beautiful wine-growing hills, clean air, excellent wine, and hospitality evoke the love of land and viticulture that began in 1984 with a family vineyard just three kilometers from the center of the world. Sanja's father, Dragutin Crnković, once planted the first vineyard there, passed on his love of viticulture to his daughter, and introduced her to the wine business.

Emphasis is on the premium line of nature wines

Sanja's husband, Tomislav, also fell in love with winemaking and viticulture. In 2000 they founded the Winery, and in 2017 they produced the first sparkling wine in the region. They are the new wine style leaders in Varaždin County, and today they create top and quality wines.

Stručić Winery has become one of the most famous and successful and began more severe production in 2002. The emphasis is on the premium line of wines represented by nature wines. The premium line consists of carefully selected bunches hand-picked from selected vines. Sanja showed her love, passion, and care for each of these grapes before they become wine.

"Only ripe grapes are picked from the petiole by hand, clean and healthy. Fermentation on own yeasts and grapes, without the addition of selected yeasts, produces natural wines. This top line comes in different bottles and has different labels. We have been making it in small batches, approximately 750 bottles, for four years now, every year with a new vintage," says Sanja.

Back in 2016, Stručić family even produced a special edition of Sara Kolak Chardonnay to celebrate the local Olympic javelin gold-medal winner.

Journalists who encourage stories about gastronomy, tourism, and hedonism are also responsible for the turn in wine production. The Stručić family decided to take advantage of the microclimate and their plantations' position, which enable them to produce excellent raw materials for the production of different wine styles.

"We researched and realized that our region is a microclimatic God-given. While visiting various wine fairs and festivals, we realized we want to make different wines. The exhibitions were an incentive for us to expand our knowledge to be as good as possible. We also visited wineries in Italy to get a better insight into their viticulture and winemaking that is at a high level, and to apply experiences and some wine secrets in our vineyard and cellar," says Sanja on how they started producing sparkling wine and natural wine.

Produced the first sparkling wine in the region

The family vineyard initially had 3,500 vines and was later expanded with new plantations. Today, they cultivate three and a half hectares of land with 14,000 vines. It consists of plots named after the youngest members: Lucija, Luka, and Petra, and the newest plantation was named after their niece Katarina. The plots are registered by varieties and years of planting. The rulers of their vineyard are Graševina, Chardonnay, Rhine Riesling, Sauvignon, Portuguese and Yellow Muscat.

"We produce Graševina, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Rhine Riesling, and mixed wines. Poštenjak is a blend – a mixture of Graševina, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. We make fruit wines and liqueurs, and sparkling wine. We produce about 25,000 bottles a year," says Tomislav.

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The opening of the Ludbreg Wine Road about ten years ago encouraged a stronger development of their winery. Thus, in 2017, Vinarija Stručić produced the first sparkling wine from the Ludbreg vineyards, which has the label "blanc de blancs" (namely "white from white"), which means that only white grapes were used in its production, that is, Chardonnay.

"After top quality wines, every winemaker wants to produce sparkling wine. It is the crown of your work, as if, for example, you have won the World Cup. The production of sparkling wine was our desire for a step higher. And now, three years ago, we are doing batch after batch," Sanja points out.

The Croatian Wine Institute, which evaluates and issues a quality certificate, rated their sparkling wine as top quality. And there is only five percent of top wines in Croatia, so they expanded their production in 2018 with rose sparkling wine from the Portuguese. It is a unique rarity in Croatia, produced by only one other winemaker on Plješivica.

Microclimatic conditions with a continental climate favor the quality ripening of grapes, so the Podravina and Zagorje regions are God-given for sparkling wine production. The Ludbreg vineyards' climate is ideal for producing light wines with little alcohol, sparkling wine, and wines of late harvests.

Decanter quality certification

Stručić Winery sells its products throughout Croatia. In Ludbreg, visitors can taste their wines in the Bonaparte coffee bar, which they own, as well as the Amalia catering facilities, Pivnica Mejaši, and Hotel Crnković.

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"Rhine Riesling is mostly associated with the name of our winery. It is our flagship and our most sought after wine on the market. Then follow Graševina, Chardonnay, Portuguese, Sauvignon… Premium wine lines, sparkling wines, aged, and nature wines are distributed to the Adriatic coast," says Tomislav.

The secret behind the Sučić Winerys's success, Sanja points out, is harmony, great love, patience, a lot of sacrifices, and constant investments. Proof of quality arrived last August when the Stručić Winery won a bronze medal for Chardonnay and recommendations for Rhine Riesling and Graševina at the most influential wine evaluation – the Decanter World Wine Awards 2020 in London.

"It is a confirmation that we make quality wine. With these recognitions, we have increased visibility," says Tomislav with satisfaction.

Ludbreg vineyards on the wine list of Croatia

For wines to achieve top results, a lot of education, work, and knowledge is needed, so the Stručić family cooperates with the leading Croatian sommelier and Decanter judge Siniša Lasan. With Varaždin County's cooperation, Siniša visited several wineries and tasted wines, discussed problems, and gave his view of the current situation in winemaking in the county.

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Continental tourism is in the beginning. Tourism Ministry began to give it importance and encourage it only a few years ago.

"The Ludbreg and Varaždin vineyards are neglected. They are not marked on Croatia's wine list, and our winemakers are very hardworking but self-effacing. A dozen of us from all over the county will have to sit down, compare wines, listen to the profession to style them if necessary so that we stand out together with quality. I believe that we will soon mark our vineyards on the wine list, which would raise the price, and we could sell our wines more easily on the doorstep," Sanja is optimistic.

"Viticulture is a demanding activity that requires a lot of attention because wine is alive and should be continuously monitored. Without love for the vineyard and wine, there is no progress, "the Stručić couple agrees.

However, the biggest reward in their work is that the interest in winemaking is shown by their 17-year-old son Luka. He wants to enroll at the Faculty of Agriculture and become a wine expert, oenologist. Thus, when the time comes, to the family's satisfaction, the winery will be taken over by the third generation, which will cultivate, enrich, and further create new top-notch wines.

To read more about Ludbreg, follow our dedicated page.

Friday, 22 January 2021

22 January: Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia

January 22 2021 – January 22 is Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia. Marked significantly in continental winemaking regions, its folk traditions pre-date Christianity and are celebrated with food, wine, music and merriment

Nearing the end of January, it's not uncommon to see snow on the fields of Croatia. The ground can be hard, brittle, frozen. There's little to be done in them right now. And yet, on 22 January in Croatia, winemakers traditionally head to their vineyards. They do this not to undertake a day's work – for today is a day of rest. They instead do this to mark the tradition of Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia.

As a name, Vincent has many variants, Vinko being one popular in Croatia. Similarly, Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia, is also known by several different names in the country, depending on the region. You can hear it called Vinceška, Vincekovo, Vincelovo, Vinkovo and even Vinceće.

Vincekovo_GVT-2019-14a_1.jpgVincekovo marked with wine and meat in traditional folk costume in Varaždinske Toplice © Grad Varaždinske Toplice

Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia, is mostly marked in the northern continental area of the country and throughout the entire east, in traditional Slavonia and Baranj and the Croatian part of Syrmia, around Ilok. In these places, it is a day inextricably linked with the production of wine. That people seem to associate St Vincent as 'the wine guy' seems reasonable – Vinko and vino (the Croatian word for wine) are almost the same, right? Well, actually it's not so simple.

The related name Viktor (also used in Croatia) gives us the best example for the meaning of the name. Vincent comes from the Latin word 'vincere' (to conquer or to be victorious). But, although it looks similar in Latin ('in vino veritas' - in wine there is truth), the word for wine is much, much older and may have an entirely root.

Ilok2020.jpgVinkovo in Ilok 2020 © Youtube screenshot

Nobody is really sure where the word 'wine' comes from. The ancient Greek word 'oinos' certainly pre-dates the Latin but, truth be told, its true origins have been lost in time, providing entertaining mystery for today. What we do know is that there is a common origin word for wine that crops up in several completely different language groups.

You can find a similar ancient word for wine being used from southern Russia, right the way down through the Caucasus and the non-Indo European languages used in the area of modern-day Georgia, and in the western Semitic languages of the Levant (Arabic: wain, Hebrew: yayin). From the Mediterranean tongues of Latin and Greek, back up again to Russia, this time via Slavic and Germanic lands, the word is the same. It seems that ever since people learned how to cultivate and ferment grapes, different peoples have all know the end product by the same word.

Who knows? Perhaps there is a shared origin for the words? As any winemaker will tell you, the production of excellent vino does indeed require a conquering of the vines. The vines from which we grow grapes actually hail from wild varieties that grew in Russia and central Europe, yet the earliest traces of wine production are found in more southerly regions, where the climate is warmer, this journey itself a conquering act of cultivation. In early Indo-European languages, the root 'wei' means to turn or to bend. The earliest evidence of grapevine cultivation and wine production comes from the South Caucasus, present-day Georgia and dates back at least 8000 years.

1275px-Barry_capitaine._F._25._Grand_vase_pour_la_conservation_du_vin_en_Kacheti_Géorgie._Mission_scientifique_de_Mr_Ernest_Chantre._1881.jpgA Georgian man in traditional dress stands alongside a qvevri, a clay pot used for making Georgian wine in 1881. Once filled, the clay amphora are buried beneath the ground, which helps regulate the temperature of the fermenting wine. Evidence of winemaking in the region is the oldest in the world - it goes back 8000 years  © Public domain

Although several saints share the name Vincent, Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia, marks the death of the saint known as Vincent of Saragossa. Born to a well-off family in Saragossa (Zaragoza), north-eastern Spain, Vinncent devoted his life to the church and became deacon in the Church of Saragossa. He was tortured under the persecution of Christians demanded by Roman Emperor Diocletian, asked to renounce his faith - which he refused to do - and was martyred around the year 304. We mark Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia and the western Christian world on 22 January as this is presumed to be the actual day of his death. St Vincent is not only the patron saint of winemakers, but also the patron saint of vinegar makers, which may come as comfort to some of the less able wine producers of the region.

Basilica_del_Pilar-sunset.jpgCathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar and the Puente de Piedra bridge on the Ebro River in Saragossa, the birthplace of St Vincent © Paulo Brandao

As with other mysteries surrounding wine, quite why the midwinter period of 22 January, Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia, should be significant to winemakers also poses some questions. “I have no idea!” said one Dalmatian winemaker when asked to explain the significance of the day to his craft. “But you know those Slavonians are all crazy, right?” And, on the surface, his unknowing is quite understandable. There is little happening in the frozen fields right now. But, it is possible that this celebration pre-dates not only St Vincent but Christianity itself.

Vincekovo-slika-Likovna-Republika.jpgA Croatian painting tellingly shows how traditions of St Vincent's Day in Croatia have little changed over the years © Tourist Board Jestrebarsko

Everyone favourite ancient God at the party, Dionysus was the Greek God of wine, the grape harvest, fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, festivity and theatre. His celebration took place in the period from the 11th to the 13th of anthesterion, which corresponds in today's calendar to between around now and February. On the wild feast of Dionysus (who is sometimes called Bacchus or Liber, as in liberty, freedom), barrels of new wine were broken open and the celebration marked the impending arrival of the new season – spring. And, this too is how Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia, is marked.

1775px-Cornelis_de_Vos_-_El_triunfo_de_Baco.jpgThe Triumph of Bacchus, a 17th-century painting by Cornelis de Vos © Public domain

Several saints' days in Croatia correspond to significant points in the agricultural calendar, tellingly revealing their pre-Christian roots. Another of those corresponding to winemaking is Martinje – St Martin's Day in Croatia. However, Martinje is traditionally a more proletarian festivity – it comes at the end of the harvest when there is no more hard work for all the manual labourers to do. Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia is a day more traditionally associated with their boss the vineyard owner. It is also traditionally a more testosterone-filled affair – a sausage party, if you will. In more ways than one.

Vinceška-Vina-Belje-2019-21-960x640meats.jpgKulen and other sausages, hung traditionally beside the vines on St Vincent's Day - the company that made these, Belje, is one of the best and most famous in Croatia. They trace their history in the Baranja region back to the year 1697. Without very much fanfare at all, they have been significant contributors of food to the relief effort for the 29 December 2020 earthquake in Sisak Moslavina County. In Baranja, you'll most likely hear this day called Vinceška © Belje

Around this time, vines within the vineyard will be cut back. There is a limited amount of nutrients that may pass down a vine and this cutting back ensures the nutrients are concentrated to help guarantee a limited, good crop. Whether this cutting back has actually taken place in days prior, on Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia, vineyard owners are charged with visiting their vines – whatever the weather – and ceremoniously cutting back a vine, usually one with at least three new buds on, which is then traditionally brought into the home and placed in a watered jar. The progress of the buds supposedly predicts the next season's crops, although many other folk traditions associated with Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia, also serve the same purpose. Melting snow, rain and sunshine on Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia are also traditionally regarded as predictors of a fine harvest, although water dripping from the eaves on Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia could mean the year will be wet.

Pavlomir_Novi_Vinodol_Primorsko-Goranska.jpgVincekovo celebrated in Pavlomir, Novi Vinodol, Primorsko-Goranska County © Youtube screenshot

As the gregarious Dionysus might have said himself, you can't really have a celebration with just one guy. And, famously gregarious themselves, Slavonians rarely make the trip to the vineyard alone. Neighbours, family, friends and even musicians might make the journey with them to join in the blessing of the vines. In Croatia today, you can still see some people undertaking this ceremony in traditional folk costume.

Vinkovo_in_Ilok_2019.jpgVinkovo in Ilok 2019. Brrrrrr! © Youtube screenshot

The vine that has been pruned is ritually sprinkled with old wine. Song and drinking accompany the ceremony and both old and new wine may make an appearance. No Slavonia or Baranja party is complete without kulen, their king of sausages, and on Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia, it is traditional to hang kulen and/or švargla (another monstrous preserved portion of pig product) from a post in order to encourage the next season's crop to be as fertile and bountiful as these sizeable sausages.

1626px-Sacrificio_a_Baco_Massimo_Stanzione.jpgSacrifice to Bacchus by Massimo Stanzione c. 1634 © Public domain. Some of the folk traditions observed on St Vincent's Day in Croatia probably pre-date Christianity

Hearty snacks usually accompany the celebration in the fields and with the ceremonious part taken care of, the taste for another class acquired and the body accustomed to the cold, now is the traditional time to march around the locale to visit the wine cellars of your neighbouring growers. If you're a winemaker of a Dionysian bent, you'll probably take along some food like kulen, a roasted pig, fis paprikas, a wild meat stew (cobanac) or even the tamburica musicians who came to the fields with you. If not, your neighbouring winemaker might well greet you with these. If you live in an area of traditional winemaking, that's a lot of neighbouring wine cellars to visit and celebrations on Vincekovo - St Vincent's Day in Croatia can extend well into the night.

fishp.jpegFiš paprikaš is a spicy river fish stew, richly red from paprika. It is popular in Slavonia, Baranja and Syrmia. Along with the wild meats stew čobanac and whole šaran (carp), butterflied and cooked outside over an open flame, it is a warming and popular dish to eat in eastern Croatia on St Vincent's Day © Romulić & Stojčić

Sunday, 6 December 2020

In Cultura Veritas: Successful International Cooperation of 40 Winemakers

December 6, 2020 – With the project In Cultura Veritas, 200 kilometers of wine roads and 80 cultural heritage sites were connected in the cross-border area between Zagreb County in Croatia and the Obsotelje and Kozjansko subregions in Slovenia.

As Lokalni.hr reports, the main goal of this recently completed project, which lasted 28 months and is worth one million euros, was to contribute to the attractiveness, attendance, and protection of the cultural heritage of the area and increase economic activity through the development of a new sustainable cross-border destination. The goals were also to strengthen the capacity of local stakeholders and the comprehensive promotion of tourist destinations from the Zagreb County and the Slovenian subregions Obsotelje and Kozjansko.

The In Cultura Veritas project was implemented by Zagreb County, with partners the Museum Documentation Center and the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies. Slovenian partners were the Sotla Development Agency, the Municipality of Šmarje pri Jelšah, and the Maribor Agricultural and Forestry Institute.

On behalf of Zagreb County, the project was presented by Ivana Rendulić Jelušić, who pointed out that thanks to this project, the attractiveness of the offer of cultural and wine tourism in Zagreb County was increased following the requirements of modern visitors.

The cooperation of about 40 winemakers from the area of Zelinska, Samoborska, and Plešivička wine roads, the towns of Samobor, Jastrebarsko, and Sveti Ivan Zelina, and their city museums have borne fruit.

As Večernji.hr reports, the attractions of wine and cultural tourism within the new destination have been promoted by the application of modern digital tools, the improvement of the visitor infrastructure, and the renewal of cultural heritage.

This project idea was developed thanks to the recognition of common and insufficiently promoted tourism potentials in the cross-border project area. The area has a rich and somewhat forgotten cultural and historical heritage preserved in about 80 cultural heritage sites located along 200 km of wine roads.

The centuries-old tradition of wine production is an important part of life in this area, and the quality of the wine is confirmed by numerous awards that adorn the walls of wineries on Plešivica, Zelina, Samobor (Croatia), and Šmarje-Virštanj wine roads (Slovenia). It is in this area that the oldest vine in the world is located, the one from Maribor. Also, the fluttering and fresh white wine Kraljevina, which is believed to have been drunk by the famous Beethoven, is an autochthonous variety produced only in the Zelina area in Croatia.

Zagreb County was the leading partner of this project and thus digitized the tourist offer of the new cross-border tourist destination. A digital catalog with the cultural and wine offer of this area is available on the project website, where you can find information about winemakers, museums, natural heritage sites, photographs, multimedia content, and interesting facts and legends about famous people associated with the project area.

The digital catalog is also available on a mobile application, as well as on tourist machines and smart benches set up by the Zagreb County in the center of the cities involved in the project – Sveti Ivan Zelina, Jastrebarsko, and Samobor.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

PHOTOS: Martinje! Saint Martin's Day Celebrated Across Croatia

November 11, 2020 – Saint Martin's Day is today celebrated across Croatia, a time to be thankful for the successful harvest that will tide you through winter. We take a look at Saint Martin, his close connection to Croatia and the distinct traditions here that mark his day

Saint Martin or Martin of Tours is one of the most recognised of all Christian saints. He is the patron saint of beggars, wool-weavers and tailors, soldiers, geese and the country of France. He is also the patron saint of innkeepers and winemakers. He is celebrated all over the Christian world on September 11, the day of his burial (Saint Martin died on 8th November, 397, and was buried three days later).

wine-259876_1920.jpegAcross Europe, the long-held celebration of Saint Martin's Day is closely associated with the autumn harvest - in Croatia, particularly the wine harvest in continental regions

The feast of Saint Martin began to be celebrated in France, where he died, before spreading all across Europe and the Christian world. In the northern hemisphere, Saint Martin's Day coincides with a key time of year. It is the end of harvest time, the beginning of natural winter. It is the time for food to be conserved for the forthcoming colder months, the time for animals to be slaughtered and vegetables to be preserved. It is also the traditional time that the year's first new beer and wine first become ready to drink. Depending on the local crops and climate of the country, Saint Martin's Day can be associated with different foods and drinks, but with similarities occur, throughout Europe in particular. In the great winemaking country of Croatia, Saint Martin's Day is often most closely linked to that particular agricultural endeavour.

Louis Anselme Longa, La Charité de Saint-Martin Huile sur toile. Eglise de Saint-Martin d'Oney.jpgSaint Martin depicted in Louis Anselme Longa's, La Charité de Saint-Martin Huile sur toile

Saint Martin feels at home in Croatia. And well he might. Martin of Tours was born less than 90 kilometres from today's Croatian border, in Pannonia, present-day Hungary. His father was a tribune in the Roman army and, being the son of such, Martin was required to follow in his footsteps. At the age of 18, he was stationed in Amiens, present-day France, probably as an elite cavalry bodyguard of the Emperor, who accompanied him on his travels around the Empire. So important did Martin become to the spread of early Christianity in the region, that many details about his life were recorded by a biographer, Sulpicius Severus, who lived within Martin's lifetime and who met him.

Martinje-visit daruvar.jpgA previous celebration of Saint Martin's Day in Daruvar © TZ Daruvar

While Martin was still a soldier, it is said he experienced a vision. One day, as he was approaching the city of Amiens, he met a beggar. Martin instinctively cut his military cloak in two, so he could share his clothing with the poor man. That night, Martin dreamed Jesus was wearing the half-cloak he had given away.

Martin's cloak became a famous relic preserved in the Marmoutier Abbey near Tours. During the Middle Ages, it was carried by the king into battle and used as a holy relic upon which oaths were sworn. When it was not in use, so important was the cloak that it was assigned its own military priest who would watch over it. He was called a cappellanu, his title taken from the Italian word capella, meaning cloak. This is the origin of the word chaplain that we use today to describe a priest assigned to the military, and for the word chapel, meaning small church, which comes from the building assigned to house Martin's cloak.

Saint Martin and the Beggar by Anthony van Dyck.jpgAnother depiction of Martin splitting his cloak for the beggar - Saint Martin and the Beggar by Anthony van Dyck

Opinions about the length of time Martin spent in the army vary, as he is said to have renounced violence in keeping with the Christian faith he had already adopted before he joined. However long he spent in service, it is to a life of religious devotion he entered upon his departure from the ranks. He travelled back home and is said to have converted his mother in Pannonia to Christianity. He returned to present-day France with his mentor, Hilary of Poitiers, where he helped establish a building that would become the oldest known monastery in Europe, Ligugé Abbey. From there, he toured the region preaching Christianity, spreading his religion and, perhaps unwittingly, also his name.

graddugoselo.jpgIn this picture, the local clergy bless the full harvest in Dugo Selo on Saint Martin's Day © Grad Dugo Selo

Being a renowned Holy man, Martin was asked to attend a sick man in the city of Tours. The request was a ruse. Christians within the city wanted to have Martin as their bishop and had lured him there. Reticent to take up the position, Martin is said to have run away and hidden among a barn full of geese to avoid his persuaders. This is where the association of Martin and geese comes from. In many countries, the cooking of a goose is traditional on Saint Martin's Day, including Croatia. Not everyone has always been able to afford such a grand bird - poorer families have traditionally served duck, turkey or, more recently, chicken on Saint Martin's Day. The traditional accompaniment in Croatia is layers of pasta known as mlinci.

mlinci.pngMlinci, sheets of thin pasta, traditionally served as an accompaniment to a roasted bird in Croatia, especially on Saint Martin's Day

As bishop of Tours, Martin had a much greater responsibility and area to minister over. In these early days for Christianity, it was all too common for force and the military to become involved in the conversion of non-believers. But, Martin had renounced violence. He used an alternate method - the power of persuasion. Martin is said to have been such a formidable opponent in discussion that royalty would refuse to grant him an audience for fear he would inevitably leave with the terms he sought. He often campaigned for the forgiveness and freedom of prisoners, even those whose religious views he opposed.

kutjevo2.jpgSome of Croatia's best white wines come from Kutjevo in Slavonia - it's no surprise to see them go big for Saint Martin's Day © Kutjevo doo

From the late 4th century to the late Middle Ages, a 40-day period of fasting starting the day after Saint Martin's Day was observed over much of Christian Europe. This long period eventually relaxed and receded, becoming known as Advent – the time of spiritual preparation for Christmas. However, the great feast just before the fasting remained - Saint Martin's Day.

visitmedimuje.jpgA typical scene from St Martin's Day in Medimurje © Visit Medimurje

In Croatia, Saint Martin is the patron saint of Beli Manastir in Baranja, Virje in Koprivnica–Križevci County and Čepinski Martinci in Slavonia. Each has a church named after Saint Martin. These are far from the only places where Saint Martin's Day is significant in Croatia. In Istria, as work in vineyards would come to an end, winemakers would often come together to taste the fruits of their labour together. Saint Martin's is celebrated across several days there, from village to village, and tradition holds that the new wine most liked on Saint Martin’s Day will be the best wine next year.

3bc7aa7f337d2b6d218588b9fca9e94f_L.jpgCelebrating Saint Martin's Day is a long-held tradition in Croatia, as this old photo from Požega City Museum attests

Northern and eastern continental Croatia have an extremely strong reputation for producing great white wine. It is their harvest which most closely coincides with Saint Martin's Day, so it's little surprise to see it marked so significantly in these regions. In particular, Sveti Martin na Muri in Međimurje, Požega and Kutjevo in Slavonia, Daruvar in Bjelovar-Bilogora County, Velika Gorica, Sveti Ivan Zelina and Dugo Selo in Zagreb County are big fans of Martinje. But, anywhere that grows white wine is likely to mark the day.

purica_4-maja-danica-pecanic.jpgTurkey and mlinci is a dish commonly served on Saint Martin's Day in Croatia. Both the turkey and mlinci of the Zagorje region are protected by the EU for their distinct place of origin © Maja Danica Pecanic / Croatian National Tourist Board

Within these regions, in particular, the folk custom of 'Baptising' the wine, to purify it, is a part of proceedings. In many places, this is even done by a real priest. The ceremony frequently takes place on town squares and is enthusiastically attended by locals. After the lighthearted formalities, the celebrations are usually extended with food, music and, of course, wine.

grad daruvar.jpgAnother scene from a previous Saint Martin's in Daruvar © Grad Daruvar

Outside of continental regions, the island of Korčula is one of the few - if not the only - place in Dalmatia where Saint Martin's Day is seriously celebrated. The party there starts the night before, with children making a procession with lanterns. This is a commonplace way to celebrate Saint Martin's Day in The Netherlands, some parts of Germany and Belgium. Indeed, so significant is the day in western Flanders, Belgium, that children receive their annual gifts on Saint Martin's Day instead of December 25th. They don't go that far on Korčula, but they do make special foods for the occasion and celebrate Saint Martin's Day, like many places in Croatia, with joyous song and dance.

47_KUTJEVO3.jpg© Kutjevo doo

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