Wine and wine roads in Zagreb County
The vineyards of Zagreb County belong to the wine region of Bregovita Hrvatska (Hilly Croatia). They are situated on elevated terrains, namely mountain slopes and lower hills which provide excellent conditions for producing high-quality grapes on their southern hillsides.
Vineyards can be found at altitudes higher than 400 meters, sometimes they are very steep, but most of them are situated on tame, slightly sloping hills.
Most of these vineyards are situated on Plešivica, and the whole area is characterized by mostly white wines, sparkling and still wines that are generally fresh and light, with nice floral and fruit aromas, but there are also more and more complex, aged, macerated wines.
Climate conditions of the Zagreb County area have shaped the development of a typical continental assortment. These are the same varieties that appear in the neighboring countries, and they have been introduced to these areas around one hundred years ago (mainly Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot blanc, gris, noir, Sauvignon blanc, Silvaner, Welschriesling). In many vineyards they cultivate the old Plešivica varieties (e.g. Plavec žuti), in the Zelina area you can find the native variety Kraljevina, and around Moslavina, the autochthonous variety Škrlet is grown. When it comes to international red varieties, Blauer Portugieser, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are worth mentioning.
According to the County data, Zagreb County, with its five million vines planted across more than 900 hectares, is at the top of the Republic of Croatia by the number of winemakers, wine labels, wine roads, winemaking and wine projects in general.
Some of the most distinguished projects are county brands, such as Kraljevina Zelina and Blauer Portugieser Plešivica, and the wine promotion project with the “Wine Queen” pageant held yearly since 2003.
In Plešivica, the vineyard viticulture and winemaking have a long and rich tradition; ancient Illyrians and Romans may have started cultivating grapevine. The Erdődy counts have brought the Riesling variety that is still cultivated today, being an inspiration to winemakers for different ways of vinification. Plešivica kleti (cellars) are well-recognized symbols of this area that has been a source of Plešivica wines for centuries.
On the north, Plešivica spreads to Slovenia and the Zagorje–Međimurje region, and on the south, to the subregion of Pokuplje. Vineyards can be found at altitudes up to 400 meters, adorning the Plešivica–Okić and Svetojan–Slavetić vineyards with amphitheaters of unforgettable beauty. Most of the vineyards are located on favourable grounds, facing south.
Plešivica is situated on the eastern, western and southern slopes of the Žumberak Hill. Being protected from cold gusts of wind from the north, it is an ideal area for grapevine cultivating.
Five vineyards (Samobor, Plešivica–Okić, Svetojan–Slavetić, Krašić and Ozalj–Vivodina), coherently connected by climate and soil, represent one of the most picturesque and striking vineyard subregions in Croatia.
The Svetojan–Slavetić vineyard is a place of especially valuable regions: Bukovački bregi, Belva, Mladinski breg, Radenci, Šanji breg, Šipkov dol and Vraneščak, and in the Plešivica–Okić vineyard-area you can find: Draga, Kapelščak, Mladina, Nežićev breg, Lekovec, Oštri vrh, Prhoček, Stošinec, Šipkovica, Topolovec and Vukovac.
The Plešivica Wine Road has been open since 2001, bringing together around forty winemakers with diverse touristic attractions. There you can sample native and domesticated varieties such as Blauer Portugieser, Plavec žuti, Rotgipfler and Šipelj, along with world-renowned varieties such as Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon, Gewürz and Pinot noir, blanc and gris. Wines from Plešivica win awards year after year in Croatia and all around the world.
The tourist offer of the Plešivica Wine Road can be divided into three categories: all winemakers offer wine tasting in their wine cellars, some offer homemade food along with wine tasting, and winemakers from the last category offer, together with wine and food, accommodation in strikingly furnished accommodation establishments overlooking the breathtaking “amphitheater” of Plešivica.
Berci, Dol, Giznik, Jelenščak, Palačnik and Podviščak are the best locations of Samobor vineyards. The vineyards of Krašić boast the locations: Brdo, Dubrava, Dugi vrh, Gračec and Kremenica, and Ozalj–Vivodina vineyards boast Labok, Lović and the location Pinterović.
The Plešivica subregion is also distinguished by soil diversity—there are podzol soils, rendzina carbonate-mineral soils. Other than having favorable positions and soils, Plešivica vineyards benefit from a continental climate with a well-balanced number of sunny hours and rainfall.
The diverse old assortment of grapevine, small parcels of dense rows and the classical method of cultivating vines with stakes tell us about a long viticulture tradition on Plešivica. Plešivica is home to some autochthonous varieties, many of which have disappeared. Old domesticated cultivars that thrive here are Red kraljevina, Kavčina crna, Ranfol white, Gouais blanc, White lipovina, White šipovina, Blauer Portugieser, Frankovka and Veltilinec. In recent years, with the coming of young and modern vinedressers and winemakers, the old cultivating methods and varieties are giving way to the modern ones. High-quality cultivars are introduced, and they are planted in wider rows, along wires. The cultivars that are recommended for the Plešivica subregion are: Chardonnay blanc, Red frankovka, Welschriesling, Muscat Ottonel, Neuburger, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Blauer Portugieser, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Sauvignon blanc, Silvaner, Red Gewürz, Aromatic Gewürz, Red vetlinac and Green vetlinac.
Sveti Ivan Zelina
The Zelina Wine Road passes through wine-growing residences of the Zelina area in the Prigorje subregion. There you can find wine cellars, vineyards and kleti of renowned Zelina winemakers. Vineyard areas are strewn around southern sides of nearby mountain slopes.
Winemakers, members of the Wine Road, offer their wines and traditional gastronomic delicacies to everybody who wants to get to know the beauty of the Zelina area. In addition to the amazing views of vineyards, the cordial hosts offer wine made of the world's most notable grapevine varieties (Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Pinot blanc, Manzoni bianco, Muscat blanc, Yellow muscat, Pinot noir, Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Zweigelt and others). Special attention is paid to the queen of Prigorje, Kraljevina–an autochthonous variety of this area. Kraljevina Zelina is the wine brand of Zagreb County, and the wine is velvety, easy-drinking, fresh and pleasant.
Sveti Ivan Zelina has a rich history of wine production and can show off the fact that it is the only town in Croatia where the tradition of holding wine exhibitions is more than a century and a half old. The first exhibition in this area was held in 1860 due to the efforts of Dragutin Stažimir (1821–1891), who utilized his knowledge collected in the book “Vinogradar” (“Winemaker”) to raise the viticultural and overall economic awareness of the people from the area. Wine exhibitions have been held here for the past fifty years.