Wines of Croatia News Round-Up for February 19, 2012

In case you missed anything, here is a round-up of the latest links to the news articles, blog posts and videos that highlighted Croatia, its wine or wine culture.

1. Wines of Croatia Blog: Valentine’s Day with the Donkey, the Poet & the Saint

February 7, 2012

Wine reviews: Celebrating Valentine’s Day with Vinarija Dingač 2006 Dingač, Miloš 2006 Plavac, and Saints Hills 2008 Dingač.

 

 2. Brava Wine Blog: En Primeur Malvazija 2011 Tasting in Zagreb

February 13, 2012

Sommelier April Amys Torzewski shares her highlights from the Vinistra En Primeur 2011 Malvasia Istriana tasting in Zagreb and reserves a special place on her palate for the wines of Ivan Damjanić.

 

3. Vinologue: Milicic Wines with Video

February 13, 2012

A visit to Miličić winery on the Pelješac, courtesy of Vinologue and an interesting video blog by Percy Von Lipinski. 

 

 

4. Lajf2012 Blog: Zlatan Plavac Grand Cru Croatia

February 14, 2012

One lucky person spent Valentine’s Day with a bottle of Zlatan Plavac 2002 Grand Cru – and discovered what the nectar of the gods tastes like.

 

 5. News Press.com: Zinfandel Evolution Retraced

February 14, 2012

A brief history of the California-Croatia zinfandel connection.  

 

 

6. Wines of Croatia Blog: Vinistra Celebrates a Successful First En Primeur Tasting of Malvasia

February 16, 2012

 A short report from the February 13,2012 “en primeur” tasting of 2011 malvasia istriana in Zagreb.

 

 

7. Vintage Wine Picks Blog: Belje Grasevina 2009

February 18, 2012

 A tasty review of Belje 2009 Graševina by Vintage Wine Picks in Toronto, Canada.

 

 

P.S. We love to hear from you!

If you have comments or other news to share, please comment on this post or email us at info@winesofcroatia.com

 

A Time for Pruning & Partying: The Feast of Saint Vincent

 

“Work hard, play harder” is a favorite slogan of mine. And while winter is not as intensely laborious as harvest time, winegrowers must occasionally brave the harsh winter days and work in the vineyard. Winter is the time for pruning the vines to prepare them for new growth in the spring. Often this means runny noses, frozen hands, and lots of dead vine stalks to haul away to the compost or firewood stacks.

But all is not sober and back-breaking among the vines. Each year on a certain day the time comes to cease work, pause to give thanks, pay homage to the vineyard, and celebrate another successful harvest and the promise of a new growing year. The day is known as the Feast of Saint Vincent of Saragossa. Celebrated each winter on January 22nd (Roman Catholic Church), St. Vincent’s Day marks the mid-point between the onset of dormancy and bud-break in the vine’s growing cycle.

St. Vincent of Saragossa

Born in Spain in the 3rd century and later martyred, St. Vincent is the patron saint of wine-growers and winemakers. The story behind how he became the patron saint of vintners is rooted in legend and has many versions. One prominent explanation focuses on the French pronunciation of the name Vincent, which is “Vin-sang” and translates into “wine blood”. It should be noted that when grapevines are pruned, they often bleed sap – or vine blood – from the cuts.

But my favorite version of the story is the one that stars a hungry donkey.

I love donkeys. They are quirky, stubborn, unpredictable, sassy, lovable creatures. Their often-contradictory nature – stoic yet highly emotional, hard-working yet lazy, loyal yet defying) makes them the butt of many jokes, fodder for comical stories, and sometimes the stuff of folklore and legend (e.g. the famous Donkey of Dingac). In short, they are magnificent creatures.

(Photo by Boris Kragić, Studio Magenta)

As the story goes, one day Saint Vincent was wandering the countryside with his donkey when he encountered some workers in a vineyard. While Vincent chatted with the workers, the donkey entertained himself by eating all the young shoots off a nearby grapevine, reducing the limbs to stubs.

Later that year at harvest, the workers noticed that the vine that had been nibbled down by the donkey produced more abundant and healthier fruit than the rest of the vineyard.

And so it was revealed that grapevines – which can grow many meters long if not cut back – should be pruned in winter to ensure that the plant’s energy is directed more towards producing fruit than growing and sustaining shoots. Today pruning is a standard vineyard practice – a meticulous and painstaking task that keeps many skilled vineyard workers busy each winter.

But come St. Vincent’s Day, the clippers and shears are put down, and the celebrations begin!

(Photo by Cliff Rames)

In Croatia, the Feast of Saint Vincent of Saragossa is celebrated in all wine growing regions and is called “Vincelovo”, “Vincekovo”, or “Vinceška”, depending where you are in the country.

This year public festivals are scheduled to be held at Kutjevo in the Slavonia wine-growing region (“Kutjevačko Vincelovo”); in Zagorje at Bolfan Vinski Vrh winery (“Vincekovo”); and in the Baranja region at Vinarija Josić (“Vinceška”).

A typical St. Vincent’s celebration in Croatia consists of religious services, a blessing of the vineyards, a lighting of bonfires, live folk music performances and dancing, regional culinary specialties cooked over open fires, and of course plenty of local wine!

So here’s wishing you all a happy Feast of Saint Vincent of Saragossa. And if you are celebrating, don’t forget to raise a glass to Saint Vincent and our old friend, the Donkey!

“Živjeli!”

Text © 2012 by Cliff Rames

(Photo courtesy of Kutjevo d.d. winery)