Princesses in a Castle

Total Croatia News

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Text and photographs: Andrea Panćur

Members of the Women on Wine association once again met for a field trip and wine gathering. They arrived from various parts of Croatia to visit beautiful Istria. This is where the attractive wine and tourism location is hidden – the Belaj Castle winery, somewhat far from inquisitive eyes, in a natural setting offering plenty of quality wines and many intriguing details, but also incredible coincidences stretching through the past and present of this wine cellar.

Upon arrival we saw hints of another interesting gathering. Wonderful panoramas from the castle to fruitful vineyards stretching far, all the way to Učka Mountain, were an excellent introduction, and the perfect welcome was prepared by the Belaj winery oenologist, Toni Batel. He offered a fruity flavour of the Ksenija Malvazija from 2015. It is an interesting and especially harmonious wine with scents of vanilla, apple and freshly baked bread. This sparkling wine hinted the time spent in Belaj winery will be warm and spontaneous, and the atmosphere friendly.

Mr Batel, a superior connoisseur of wine, but also the history of this lavish estate, introduced his guests to the many details and interesting facts about the building where the winery is located. During the castle tour he disclosed there are plans to renovate, so next year the castle will also offer accommodation in luxurious rooms. The Belaj Castle winery is owned by Russian entrepreneur Oleg Belaj, who discovered this large estate during one of his visits to Istria and was drawn to it visually, and was surprised and instantly in love when he discovered the castle coincidentally carries his last name. It could be said, love at first sight or last name. Not much time had passed from the first meeting to the acquisition. Along with the castle, he received concessions for vineyards of Malvazija, Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Merlot, so he decided to continue the wine tradition of the area and for now, as we saw first hand, they are well on their way.


After learning of many interesting facts, as it often happens in the merry company of wine enthusiasts, the discussion came to wines which went harmoniously with every course of the dinner. With a warm plate of cheese came the 2016 Chardonnay, then a wine soup and meat medallions with baked palenta and bacon going along perfectly with their Merlot rich in taste. Various stories, arrangements and great fun lasting late into the night were complemented with an excellent Cabernet Sauvignon aged in special barrique barrels. An ideal end to an ideal evening. Superior wines, wonderful castle and Belaj winery location, lovely decorated tasting hall and the cheerful and smiling WOW team proved to be an excellent combination to create pleasant Istrian moments to remember. No doubt, to be repeated at the same spot! Looking forward to it.

For the original and more from Women on Wine, click here.


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