On the northern slopes of Papuk, where the mountain forests meet the Podravina plain, just above the centre of Orahovica, the Patkoš family winery is nestled. Although it is easy to get to on foot, this winery is located literally in the middle of the forest, so after a few minutes walk from the main road, questions arise as to where this road leads. But there is no need to worry because that path leads to distinct wine pleasures in very local varieties. Tijana and Vedran Patkoš are a young family with two sons who turned to winemaking and were not wrong. Without the slightest exaggeration, they can be the pride of Orahovica and an unavoidable point of the oenogastronomic experience of this city.
We sit on the terrace in front of the wine cellar and admire both the vineyard and the colours of the forest that surrounds this wine-growing area from all sides. To begin with, Tijana opens the most traditional wine of the Slavonian climate, Graševina, without which there is no question of any wine-growing attempts. Graševina 2020 is a fresh wine that went into the bottle at the most optimal time to maintain its freshness and stability. "Fresh wines are trending, and our Graševina corresponds precisely to such trends," the married couple Patkoš tells us.
Drinking Graševina at the foot of Papuk is a pleasant experience, but we are not here primarily for it. Besides Frankovka and Graševina, Silvanac, Merlot, Zvajgelt, and Pinot Noir are planted here. They particularly like Frankovka but rightly say that this variety of generous wine is not yet recognised. With the increased production came a new cellar, which was built in 2011. It is pleasant to stay there and even more pleasing to drink a glass of wine with stories about how the Patkoš, who arrived from Hungary hundreds of years ago, managed to make a wonderful vineyard in this landscape.
"This land is ideal for Frankovka," tells Vedran, whose grandfather had a small vineyard; in 2005, he and his wife planted six hectares of vineyards and started winemaking, and today they have a cellar of 40,000 litres of wine. As a forestry technician by profession, Vedran does not need to overburden himself because the winery is located in the middle of the forest! We try the top Frankovka 2020, aged in a barrique barrel from a reduced crop, so all its qualities come to the fore.
The ruby red colour lures to this great wine, which is layered in taste, from wood to mildness and pepperiness at the end. Frankovka, the Patkoš agree, has yet to become part of famous Croatian wines and will have a well-deserved place there despite the relatively small quantities produced in the area of the Slatina-Orahovica and Ferinčanci vineyards. It should not discourage anyone, especially not in a country like Croatia, which must replace quantity with outstanding quality.
At the tasting, you can try homemade Slavonian products, sausages, and cheese. Rarely does anyone in Slavonia not make sausages as a gastronomic monument to the long tradition of cured meat products, which are often spicy. They go great with milder or stronger wines, and it's a real adventure to try various flavour combinations.
In addition to the fact that guests like to come to taste wine and sausages, grapes are also loved by many wild animals that come down from Papuk to the vineyards. The vines have a hard time with wild boars, especially fallow deer, which Tijana tells us love the Silvanac. Because of this, even a whole year of planning can fail, a difficulty faced by an increasing number of Orahovica farmers. This specific wine is a specialty for Orahovica, and the Patkoš family appreciates it very much, so we hope to try a Silvanca saved from the shoveling appetite soon.
They do not choose the approach to the vineyard, but we believe that they equally enjoy the views and colors. Considering that we reached Patkoš in the afternoon, the sun gave us a whole array of light during our visit to the vines. It can already be seen that the harvest may be moved entirely to the end of August, and some varieties such as Frankovka are already rich in bunches. A short walk through the vineyard shows the skill, commitment, and love of the Patkoš family to this work, and the wine-growing region should invite other young families to stay in the Orahovica region.
Given that there was no Silvanac, we tasted a world variety. Merlot 2020 has a duller red colour and the smell of forest berries, and again, after traces of wood, a wonderful and mild wine is revealed. This is the greatest advantage and most significant danger of Merlot because this extremely drinkable wine has 14.5% alcohol, so that it can deceive even the most knowledgeable wine lovers, warns Tijana. This is the only Merlot in Orahovica that did not prove to be a difficult variety for Patkoš, although it is demanding in cellaring. For the generous Merlot, the family worked hard so that in this region, there would be world-famous wines with a Slavonian character.
From the upper terrace, where guests can enjoy the tastes and smells of Slavonia, Ružica Castle can be seen clearly. This medieval fortress adds to the romantic atmosphere of this winery. In colder weather, guests hang out in the tasting room, which is dominated by a large fireplace, and you can undoubtedly feel a special wine friendship here in a specific Slavonian environment. If you come to Orahovica and you do not visit the Patkoš winery, you waste your time!
Vinska cesta bb, Orahovica, 33515
+385 95 911 2707