24 January, 2020 – Ludbreg winemakers will host the 28th edition of what has become the largest international exhibition of young wines in Croatia at the end of the month.
It is almost four years since I visited the small town of Ludbreg in northern Croatia, a town like no other in the country. Its name translates as ‘Crazy Hill’ and it is best known in Croatia for being ‘the centre of the world.’ As you can see from that initial trip report, Ludbreg has so much more to offer than its famous geographical location.
And with each visit (it is now only half an hour from my new home in Varazdin county, new discoveries. I learned about the Vatican-authenticated Eucharistic Miracle of Ludbreg on my first visit, but it was only later that I realised that this is, in fact, the only authenticated miracle in Croatia, and you can visit it. It is an incredible story of three churches, one of which the Croatian Government promised to build a church of thanks in the miracle town in 1788 if God stopped an approaching plague. While God kept his side of the bargain, it took Croatia more than 200 years to build the church, as recently as 1994 in the middle of the Homeland War. It is a fascinating story, and there is a certain irony in that an increasing number of Polish pilgrims spend the night in Ludbreg (the authenticated miracle town), en route to Medjugorje, where nothing has been officially acknowledged.
Coming from Dalmatia, the home of superb wines, including the original Zinfandel, I was surprised to find such a vibrant wine scene in places like Ludbreg. Or one so organised. While Dalmatia, despite its huge potential, still does not have a proper wine road, its winemakers far from united, Ludbreg boasts its own little wine road, as well as excellent cooperation between the winemakers, which manifests itself in the Ludbreg Wine Association, Trsek.
I was in Ludbreg on Thursday, where I learned another interesting fact about this unusual town – it has the biggest international exhibition of young wines in Croatia. E-Varazdin reported on the press conference in Ludbreg promoting the exhibition, a translation of which is below.
The 28th International Young Wine Exhibition titled “Vincekovo 2020”, the biggest young wine exhibition in Croatia will be held on January 31st in Ludbreg.
The exhibition opening will be held at 5 pm at the Crnković hotel, after which the medals and awards will be presented. The visitors will be able to enjoy over 500 samples of young wine from all over Croatia, but also from Slovenia and Hungary, including those wines which have received the highest grades from the jury. The show was presented in the Crnković hotel by County Prefect Radimir Čačić, Ludbreg mayor Dubravko Bilić and President of the winemakers association from Ludbred Branko Kežman. This is the first year the exhibition will be titled “Vincekovo”, and it will receive strong support from the County and the town of Ludbreg.
County Prefect Čačić said that around 500 samples of wine remain in the competition, after a fierce selection, which shows that the competition is strong, and the exhibition relevant. This is a region where modern, fresh wines of low alcohol and higher acids are made, and such wines are currently a global hit. Varaždin County is not a significant wine producer, as only between 1.5 and 2 per cent of Croatian wines are made in the County. However, the wines produced in the County are high-quality, which have recently been recognized on the global level, and Čačić said he expected around 10 to 15 wines made in the County to appear in the international competitions. And he also expects this exhibition to grow, and within 5 to 6 years it should be the best the County has to offer on Croatian and European level.
Ludbreg has always been connected to wine, and in the last 20 or so years people find the ways to make money and present their region by making good wines, mayor Bilić said. This exhibition was a learning experience for many local winemakers, who have learned in the past 28 years how to make excellent wines, and now the time has come for the winemakers to get together and start creating a brand of Varaždin County wines. Ludbreg exhibition of young wines has become international, so this is another opportunity for the winemakers to create the tourist story that lasts throughout the year, that will benefit everyone. It’s an opportunity for them, as tourists are looking more and more towards continental Croatia, and there is the potential to provide enjoyment for all the senses. Mayor Bilić confirmed the Prefect’s words, that while they are small, they need to be excellent at everything they do.
(TCN with Varazdin County Prefect Cacic and Ludbreg Mayor Bilic)
Almost thirty years ago, when the first exhibition was held in Ludbreg, the winemakers were in charge of grading the wines. These days the top experts do that work – enologists and sommeliers from Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia. Most of the wines at the exhibition are blends, and varietal wines are mostly Graševina, Rajnski Riesling and there’s an increasing number of Moscatto wines, Branko Kežman from the Winemakers association from Ludbreg explained.
To follow the latest from Ludbreg, check out the dedicated TCN section.