The Wine Events of Croatia: Zmajevac Wine Marathon

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The event consists of contestants trying to visit (on foot!) as many wine-cellars in Zmajevac as possible, having a decilitre of wine in each of them, writing down the type of wine they’ve had and giving their host and their wine a grade. In 2016, twenty cellars and winemakers participated in the event (Pinkert, Kovač, Đerfi, Pavlović, Martin, Čočić, Guštin, Varga, Szabó, Kolar, Zajec, Tűr, Vinarije Josić, Gerštmajer, Kusić, Kalazić and OPG Kovats Istvan), so now you understand why not many participants were able to do the entire list and be left standing at the end. And it is quite clear why such an event, with great organisation and support from the local community, has grown from around 40 participants in the first year (2005) to a new record this year: over 1300 people joined!

To get all of the 20 cellars (and thus included 2 litres of wine) you needed to make a 4 kilometre walk, but the hosts really did their best to help contestants make it all the way to the end. So, in addition to pouring various (mostly excellent!) wines, you can get your hands on a lot of various Baranja delicacies around the cellars and on the route the marathon took, such as lángos, kotlovina, various dishes with freshwater fish including Baranja’s famous “fišpaprikaš” (fish stew made with different types of fish in a kettle on open fire), čobanac (similar to fišpaprikaš when it comes to method, but with pork, beef and/or tame), or bean stew. Participants were also given an very oldfashioned local specialty: bread with lard seasoned with ground peppers (yeah, I know how that sounds, but that’s a local thing – and it does help you get through at least 2 litres of wine in a few hours!)

In addition to the contestants, there is always a very well-intentioned crowd of those who believe that they should just enjoy themselves for a lovely afternoon in Baranja, and not get too drunk on the wine. The prices of the mentioned food and wines in the cellar for the visitors are extremely affordable; the atmosphere is always excellent as the entire day is, in fact, the celebration of wine and partying. And, of course, as always, there’s music, some cellars have bands playing all day, and after the official portion of the marathon is finished and the winner announced and awarded the party continues in the cellars.

Don’t know about you, but I know where I’ll be spending the next first weekend in October: in Zmajevac!


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