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Zagreb's wine tradition: from grape harvest to St. Martin's Day
From the harvest to the tasting of the first, young wine – autumn is the time when the year-long wine story comes to an end and when Zagreb begins to enjoy these wonderful flavors.
Zagreb is located at the foot of Medvednica, surrounded by hills on all sides. Zagorje, Žumberak, Moslavina Mountains, Zrinska gora – from their winding roads descend numerous vineyards, full of juicy grapes, so it is not surprising that the city itself is closely connected with the wine tradition.
What's more, once the entire city center was filled with vineyards, and today the only one stretches from Radićeva towards Kožarska and Tkalčićeva streets. These grapevines are a real tourist attraction – what other capital city can boast a vineyard in its very center?
Photo: Lice Grada
If we take a look around the city, we will see that local tradition dictates that next to the vineyards there is always a "klijet", that is, a house with a cellar where barrels are stored, and it is this klijet that becomes a gathering place with food and wine when the season that many people like comes – grape harvest season.
Grape harvesting in continental Croatia, especially around Zagreb, is a special tradition. Entire families, friends, relatives and neighbors gather in the vineyard; everyone starts the harvest together, some cutting the bunches, others carrying the baskets up the hill, taking occasional breaks to refresh themselves with a nice meal (which traditionally means roasted pork) and a nice drink. This is true local folklore that is enjoyed by both the old and the young, both those from the city and those who live in the countryside.
For several centuries, the celebration of grapes has culminated in November, more precisely on Martinje (St. Martin's Day). In folk traditions, this day marked the end of autumn and the beginning of winter – all the work in the fields was finished and the benefits of year-round work could be enjoyed. However, combining with the Feast of St. Martin, who first started the tradition of christening the must, 11 November became the day when everyone heads back to the cellar, where the 'bishop' will baptize the must into wine, so that everyone can have a good time together.
The celebration of St. Martin's Day takes place not only on the surrounding hills, but also in the city itself! Wine markets can be seen in the squares and streets, and restaurants and hotels offer special St. Martin packages that include music, drinks and food.