A perfect idea for a different wintering – Baranja
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Let the old textbooks not blame us, but does nature really sleep during the winter? We ask ourselves this question as we walk through the crunch of frost towards one of the most famous wine-growing positions and viewpoints in Croatia. The whiteness around us merges with the light of the toothy winter morning. The heroines of the day are also dressed in white - freshly picked grape berries. Of course, it's not that the merry company forgot to collect them in the September term, but that they have all been carefully guarded so that the hands of skilled winemakers can turn them into top-quality ice wine.
The winter magic of the "mother of wine"
In short, if winter magic is in the air, it's time to find it in the glass. All the more so since we are in the aegis of the "mother of wine" - Baranja, the far north-eastern region of Croatia. The possibilities for meaningful wintering in this "new Istria", as many people have been calling it lately, will surprise and delight you at the same time.
The wine offer followed by the gastronomic one (or vice versa, as you prefer) is Baranja's tourist forte, i.e. the content that you will encounter the most in different parts of this beautiful region. At the same time, each place has its own story, each wine cellar has its own history. Discovering them on icy winter eves, while it's freezing outside, and in the gator, as the people of Baranja call their specific "hobbit" cellars, Graševina, Riesling, Cabernet and other local wine champions are pleasantly warmed, is an experience you won't forget.
You can experience it in one of the surduks (wine "slaughters") of Zmajevec, a town-village that exported its wines via the Danube to Budapest, Vienna and London 150 years ago. If you are carried away by this part of Baranja's wine story, jump to nearby Batina, Baranja's window to the Danube, a place of trinational cultural heritage, beautiful views and dormant romance.
Minus in the air, plus in the experience
Towards the west of the Baranja vineyard - which more or less overlaps with the organized, physically undemanding, and scenically exceptional trails of Planina (don't worry, it's 243 meters) - the other local pearls line up: Suza, Kneževi Vinogradi, Kotlina, Karanac. The latter, in many ways the cradle of modern Baranja rural tourism, is also one of the centers of local gastronomy. When it comes to it, kulen, red pepper, fish, perkelt, beans in a jar, as well as side dishes and desserts based on dough (tashke, traganci, rzumara, etc.) are delicacies that should not be missed, especially not in winter, in a time ideal for filling meals full of flavor.
Don't worry about where the calories go. If walking, cycling or small wine conversations and tastings do not exhaust you, you can always look for an additional dose of content in Beli Manastir, the provincial center. Take a tour of the newly renovated Ethnological Center of Baranja's heritage, enjoy the atmosphere of a small town Advent, or stop by an excellent local hotel for a detox or wellness session.
As far as accommodation is concerned, Baranja is an empire of holiday homes and rural households, but those inclined to hotel accommodation will also find their way. In addition to the mentioned capacities in Beli Manastir, there is also a higher category hotel in Lug, one of the romantic settlements on the edge of the Kopački Rit, the main reason for many to visit Baranja. The oldest Croatian nature park and one of the last primeval swamps in Europe is home to numerous game animals, birds, and a mysterious "spirit in the swamp".
Dare to discover it!