This year's grape harvest in the vineyards of Vina Belje began in the first week of September, which is the optimal start to the harvest in the Baranja area. Large amounts of rain and weather conditions, which are not common in the Baranja area for August, affected only a small part of the vineyards, so the majority of grapes are preserved in excellent condition. Belje Chief Oenologist Suzana Zovko and Marketing, Tourism and Corporate Communications Manager Ljiljana Vajda-Mlinaček were guests at the 24th "Wine Talks with Journalist Tomislav Stiplošek" in Zagreb at the "Egoist" bar.
The Belje winery is in Baranja, named after the wine (according to the Hungarian translation, Baranja is the mother of wine). The Baranja vineyards are located in Croatia, and in Villány in Hungary. The foundations of Belje were laid by Prince Eugene of Savoy in the 17th century. He developed farming and animal husbandry and planted vines.
Belje vineyards cover 650 hectares, and they are carefully cultivated and mostly hand-harvested almost three million grapes of Graševina, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Frankovka. In the middle of the vineyard is the most modern winery in the region, with a capacity of 8 million litres of wine. The old cellar is the largest Baranja gator (wine cellar characteristic of the Danube region) which spreads over three floors of 1,200 m2 in which there are wooden barrels made of Slavonian oak from the Spačva forests. In the cellar, there is a rich wine archive with more than 20,000 representative samples and the oldest wine is from 1949. There is also a wine shop and tasting room where you can taste wines and traditional Baranja cured meat products.
At "Vinski razgovori" the following were tasted: Graševina top 2019, Graševina Goldberg 2017, Chardonnay premium 2017, Rose 2019, Merlot premium 2016, Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot premium 2016 and as a special surprise Frankovka Goldberg 2012. Belje wines are harmonious, terrorized, nicely balanced, pleasant even when they have a little more alcohol. Prices fall into the best buy category. Interestingly, these relatively low prices for wines that are worth more do not change even when the wine wins a gold medal at the world's most important Decanter rating.
Belje Chief Oenologist Suzana Zovko said: "Although Graševina and other white wines have been 80% of our production lately, we are increasingly devoting ourselves to red wines and I believe that Baranja has an extremely great potential for red wines, especially Frankovka, as evidenced by our Frankovkas from 2009 and 2012, which are great wines, and I hope we will soon plant Cabernet Franc and start another new beautiful wine story with it. "
"At the beginning of the year, we presented personalized wine labels and we are glad that wine lovers welcomed the move. In addition to selling wine, in Belje we invest a lot of effort in wine tourism and designing various tourist facilities such as grape harvesting. Given the beauty of the old cellar Belje, wine tourism is becoming increasingly important, so that they currently reach the number of tens of thousands of visits per year. Tourists can start their visit to Belje in the vineyard, then see how hand-picking and the most modern world technology combine, and a visit to the old cellar allows you to walk among oak barrels and taste wine and traditional Baranja specialities, "said Ljiljana Vajda-Mlinaček.
The wines were accompanied by fine snacks - kulen and sausage and two types of cheese, Gauda Belje and Belje Gold in the form of kulen. Belje cheeses are made from home-made milk from Belje farms. Belje Gold, a hard cow’s cheese matures in a natural wrapper, and the smoked one on the beechwood gets a distinctive golden colour on the surface of the cheese. Kulen and sausage are made from black Slavonian pork from selected meat and the finest red ground pepper, smoked in a traditional smokehouse on natural smoke of beech wood with careful monitoring of slow ripening.
Photos by: Belje