Located in central Croatia and only an hours drive from Zagreb is Bjelovar-Bilogora County. This county is full of natural beauty and encompasses the Papuk Mountain Nature Park, hot springs which have been in use for thousands of years, charming towns, and a rich cultural heritage.
In addition, the region is dotted with quite a few family run wineries across its 6 major settlements, however, the biggest area of wine production in Bjelovar-Bilogora County is in Daruvar.
Daruvar has been producing exceptional wines for centuries but really flourished upon the arrival of the Janković family in the early 18th century. Most vineyards are concentrated on the gentle slopes of Papuk Mountain, which is ideal wine country.
If you’d like to explore the Daruvar wineries, base yourself in the town of Daruvar and from there it’s easy to visit any of the local wineries. Pay a visit to Daruvar Winery, which is owned by the wine and spirit company Badel 1862, and is where you” find the golden cellar” of Janković castle built in 1771 by the Earl Janković.
This cellar is still in use and for the maturation of the Daruvar Winery wines which include Graševina, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Riesling. Over the years Daruvar winery has won many international awards for its Graševina and Sauvignon for which it is so famous. The cellar itself is quite interesting as the walls are 2 metres thick and several metres below ground level which allows the cellar to maintain a constant temperature all year long. Daruvar Winery is open for wine tasting.
Another great winery well worth a visit is the Kovačević winery, who have been producing wine for 5 generations. This winery produces Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Cabernet Sauvignon and even offers accommodation and tours of the vineyard by wagon.
Heading back to Bjelovar, it is the start of the Bilogora Wine Road, and along the road you’ll find smaller wine producers like Čačija, Vnouček, Šapić/Vinia and Coner. The wines of the region are mostly white: Chardonnay, Riesling, Graševina, Traminac, but Pinot Noir is becoming polular, plus some Cabernet Sauvignon and even Syrah. In addition to the wineries, Bilogora wine road also has some cultural and historical locations, plus food producers and restaurants. Some of the better places to visit include the Šapić/Vinia winery and restaurant, the Coner Winery restaurant, or the Dude hunting lodge for something a little different. Restaurants are open during usual hours, but for winery visits and guided wine tastings you need to make an appointment.