We parked our car on a local road parking lot. Invisible to ordinary passer-bys, beneath the road stretches vast terrain of cultivated vineyards. The paths are rocky and steep, seemingly going right to the sea. The view is absolutely spectacular: on one side first evening lights emerge in the town of Bakar; direct opposite is Bakarska vrata, a narrow passage from the Bakar Bay to the open sea. These are Bakarski Prezidi – the Bakar Walls.
At this very spot, people from the nearby village of Praputnjak have for centuries cultivated a sparkling wine Bakarska Vodica (Bakar Water), a leftover from the Napoleonic times. . The world-wide famous sparkling wine Bakarska vodica originates from the Belina grape, which used to be cultivated in the Bakar region. The dry stone walls were built during the 18th century and abandoned in the ‘50s of the 20th century. In 1972 the dry stone walls were proclaimed ethno zone and included in the Registry of cultural monuments.
This original Grand Cuvée is made according to the méthide rurale, based on boiling of clear young wine (mošt) of belina and other authentic white sorts such as žumić, vrbić, verdić, žlatina, gustošljen, brankovac, and white Muscat. As it has about 50 g/l of unboiled sugar, it is considered to be a sweet sparkling wine.
Wine-growing and wine production was the main sources of livelihood for many generations of people of this littoral region. The people of Bakar were inventive and persistent and thought of how to overcome the lack of soil. They built drystone walls of limestone and filled the space between the walls with fertile soil. In such way they obtained terrain beneficial for cultivating grapes. The soil of the Bakar’s drystone walls gave this great wine.
Terraces formed by drystone walls can be found all along the Adriatic coast and on the islands, but they are nowhere as impressive as in Bakar. Here they occupy such a vast and unique area covering the entire northern coast of the Bakar bay. It is not surprising that in 1972 the drystone walls of Bakar were proclaimed monument of culture, and ethno zone. In fact, we were welcomed by local ladies wearing the local Praputnjak dress. These ladies are also members of the Agriculture Community Dolčina from Praputnjak (Poljoprivredna Zadruga Dolčina), which cultivates these grapes, while the winery Pavlomir in nearby region of Vinodol produces this exquisite wine.
The terraces we stand on are called “takala”, meaning “spread all the way to the sea”, in the local dialect. Indeed it is so, and there is only a municipal road next to the seashore that stops the vineyard to step into the sea itself. This was also the path many boys and girls took in summer from Praputnjak, Meja, and Krasica, the villages above the vineyards and above Bakar, to get to the bay.
Photos by: Bruno Vignjević