The wine production on the Danube was mentioned for the first time in the 3rd century. That was during the time of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus. It is evident that the fertile soil on the hills along the great river has been giving authentic wines since the time immemorial.
For the millions of years, winds blowing along Danube River had being bringing sand from all sides. It is delivered on the slopes of Banovo Brdo (Banovo Hill) and created yellow soil called ‘prapor’. And powerful Danube River flooded its banks and brought along another type of soil called Chernozem – a rich and fertile black soil where any plant flourish better than anywhere else. Since the time immemorial, inhabitants of Danube region planted vines on fertile black soil on the surface of vineyards, which provided sufficient nourishment for great yields, while yellow soil underneath made the grapes very special. It simply gave them a character!
Vina Belje winery is a larger grape producer from their own vineyards and cultivates the following grape varieties: Graševina, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Frankovka and regularly wins medals for its wines on the global wine scene. The excellent positioning of 650 ha of Belje vineyards, and the favorable climate along the south-facing gentle slopes of Banovo Brdo, protect the grapes from powerful northern winds and also provide for a proper insulation of each bunch of grapes.
Soil and Terroir
The wine region at the border of Croatia and Hungary was named ‘Baranja’, which owes its name from two Hungarian words: ‘bor’ – meaning wine and ‘anya’ – meaning mother, so this creates a charming meaning ‘mother of wine’.
The combination of loess yellow, porous sediment deposited by Danube winds) and Chernozem, rich black soil deposited by the waters of the Danube on its banks, provides favorable conditions for grapevine growing. Loess provides the vines with minerals, while the black soil abounds in nutrients for their growth and development.
Graševina is the most planted grape in Croatia. This is a variety well-suited for the continental climate of Central Europe. Various wine professionals believe it originates from the Danube basin. Graševina is giving a straw‐blond wine, with touches of green; medium-bodied with a flowery aroma, rounded, with crisp acidity and a touch of noble bitterness on finish. The essential features of this variety are its great acidity and the subtle almond-like bitterness. For the most part Graševina wines are fresh, fruity and best enjoyed in their youth; however the variety can of course produce a delightful rich dessert wine with the lasting bouquet.
For many years Vina Belje winery was leading other vignerons within the Danube region in creation of great wine stories. The main actor in all those stories is, of course, the Princess Graševina, a variety not treated properly by certain countries which even uprooted Graševina plantings. On the other hand, her wine mother ‘Baranja’ gently embraced her and Graševina gracefully responded to this love with the true liquid gold in a glass. And it gave the name of Prince of Croatian Danube to Vina Belje.