Top 7 Wine-Related Activities In The Baranja Wine Region
There are so many amazing things to see and do in this area that it’s hard to know where to start! That’s why we’ve narrowed it to our top 7 must-see wine-related attractions and activities in the Baranja wine region!
Visit Zmajevac, the wine capital of Baranja
Baranja has everything to offer! From Nature park Kopački rit marshes to the fertile plains and Bansko Brdo, a famed vineyard appellation, it should be on every wine lover’s list!
Baranja is also well-known as a wine-growing region. The Romans named it Mons Aures, or sunny hill, due to the high level of insolation, the Germans called it the Goldberg, meaning Golden hill, while nowadays, Baranja in translation from Hungary means – the Mother of wine (bor – wine, anya – mother).
One village stands out among others in the Baranje region. With eight wine roads on Bansko Brdo and many wineries, Zmajevac proudly bears the title – of the region’s wine capital.
Zmajevac was a Croatian candidate for Best Tourism Villages in 2022., a designation under the auspices of the UN World Tourism Organization awarded to a village as an outstanding example of a rural tourist destination.
This place has thousands of years of history and tradition. Zmajevac grew out of the Roman colony Ad novas, first mentioned in 1246 under the name Verusmorth. Vörösmart, the village’s old name, means Red Martha in Hungarian.
Legend states that Red Marta was a cruel feudal ruler who charged a gold coin for crossing the Danube. Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus disguised himself as a peasant and dug the vineyard all day, throwing his gold coins in the vineyard. When Red Marta ignored the ultimatum, the king sent a punitive expedition. Upon learning this, Red Marta threw herself into the Danube with her carriage. Her whip was found near Batina, hence the name of the village Batina.
Graševina is the most widespread variety here, and it’s the starting point of every wine tasting. Then Sauvignons and Chardonnays, Rosés and powerful Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons.
The Josić Winery’s restaurant is one of the most famous restaurants and wineries in eastern Croatia, and it’s well-known for its food, wine, and a pleasant, warm, and homely atmosphere in a fascinating setting inside renovated gator – cellar that represents architectural and cultural heritage.
Join the exciting Wine marathon in Zmajevac
Wine enthusiasts from all over the world are invited to join the exciting Wine marathon in Zmajevac. This small town is nestled in the heart of the Baranja region, famous for its vineyards and wineries in surduk.
Surduk in Baranja is the name for a steep, deeply cut road. Its sides reach a height of several meters and are usually dotted with tree roots whose tops sometimes cover a gorge that looks like a tunnel.
For centuries, the people of Baranja built their wine cellars in surduci, and these are today the most attractive example of cultural heritage in Baranja.
The Wine marathon is a unique event that combines the thrill of running with the pleasure of tasting some of the best Croatian continental wines. In 2005, the Wine marathon started with about a hundred contestants, and now there are thousands. The route covers 27 wineries, and the contests are divided into three groups; red, yellow, and green, and each group starts its route.
Along the way, visitors can taste various wines, from crisp whites to full-bodied reds, and learn about the winemaking process from local winemakers.
The Wine marathon in Zmajevac is not just a race but an unforgettable experience that combines wine, gastronomy, sport, and culture.
Visit Gator festival
If you’re looking for a unique cultural experience, the Gator festival should be on your list. Baranja, mystical and special, keep part of its secrets in gators, deeply buried in the hills. Gator Fest, a good wine festival, aims to promote Baranja winery, where visitors can taste several varieties of wine from different winemakers. Throughout the day, a program will be presented that combines concerts, a wine fair, days of open wine cellars, exhibitions of renowned artists, theater performances, art and ethnic workshops, and an ethnic fair.
Participate in Baranja Wine & Walk
Hedonists, wine lovers, and lovers of nature, traditional food, and top-quality wine will surely find their way to Baranja Wine & Walk. In Baranja, on the widely known wine roads that wind through narrow winding roads, in the warm environment of cellars and gators, the Tourist Board of Baranja organizes this traditional wine event.
On the 9-kilometer-long trail, which leads through the Baranja wine villages of Suza and Zmajevac, the famous Baranja wine meccas and wine capitals, the participants are welcomed at 14 points by Baranja winemakers and restaurants with top wines and traditional Baranja snacks. A real experience for the palate will surely happen after tasting the wines produced in the famed Baranja wineries. And the Baranja snacks will undoubtedly provide energy to endure this “heavy” wine-themed event!
Pair Kulen with wine
Have you ever heard of Kulen? It’s a delicious cured meat delicacy that comes from the Pannonian region. To make it, minced meat from a pig raised specifically for Kulen is mixed with spices, including lots of ground pepper.
The meat is then dried in smoke for about ninety days, which helps preserve it and gives it a unique flavor, color, and aroma. Once it’s ready, Kulen can be stored in a smokehouse or attic until it’s time to enjoy it.
Kulen is so special that it’s protected as a Croatian cultural property connected to Slavonia, Baranja, and Srijem region. This savory treat is not just a delicious part of the region’s cuisine but also an important part of its history and culture.
Graševina wines with a pronounced structure and fuller body best complement Kulen. Regarding red wines, Kulen pairs well with aged, full-bodied ones with pronounced tannins.
- Josić Graševina superior 2021
- Josić Ciconia Nigra Cuvée Superior 2019
- Kalazić Cabernet Sauvignon Barrique 2017
Try popular fish specialties in one of Baranja’s restaurants
Baranja is known for its preserved nature, the Danube and Drava rivers, and mouth-watering fish dishes! Whether you’re a local or a tourist, you can’t miss out on the chance to try something authentic and delicious.
If you’re a fan of freshwater fish, you’re in luck! Some of the most famous specialties in the area include fish stew, carp on forks, and catfish perkelt. For the true foodies, we recommend trying smoked river fish, fish sausage, and fish on talandara. These dishes may not be as common, but they are worth a try!
When it comes to river fish dishes, the first thing that comes to mind is fish stew. This dish is a true delight, especially when flavored with ground paprika.
You’ll find fish stew on the menu in most traditional restaurants in the area, and we’ll leave it up to you to decide which one is the best.
Again, the wine paired well with traditional Baranjas fish specialties is Graševina.
Visit the Kopački rit Nature Park
Kopački rit Nature Park, also known as “European Amazon,” is Croatia’s oldest declared nature park! This unique wetland area covers 231 square kilometers between the Danube and Drava rivers, making it an important site for biodiversity. With over 2,300 biological species, including 140 species of birds, Kopački rit is truly a nature lover’s paradise.
One of the best ways to experience the park is by taking a guided tour on a tourist boat, boat, or canoe. Expert guides will take you through the marshy meadows, allowing you to spot various wildlife, especially birds. If you prefer to explore independently, consider a tour by bicycle or tourist train. You can also stroll on the wooden bridges that crisscross the park.
One of the highlights of Kopački rit is the bald eagle with a wingspan of almost two and a half meters. Seeing this world-endangered species in its natural habitat is a sight to behold.
After a day of exploring the park, visitors can head to one of the traditional restaurants in the area and indulge in some of the best local cuisine paired with wines from the Baranja wine region.