Geographical information about the area
The entire production of Kalazić Wines takes place in the Croatia wine-growing region of Baranja. Starting from the organic production of grapes, its processing, vinification, maturation, bottling and aging, all these processes take place in an area close to the Baranja location of Batina on loess slopes of the Baranja Mountain (Bansko Brdo or Banska Kosa). Batina is located in far north-eastern Croatian, on the border with Hungary and Serbia and lies on the bank of the Danube. Here, the Danube has an average width of 400 meters and is a natural border between the two countries.
The geographical coordinates of Batina are 45°50’45” N and 18°51’0″ E. The Baranja region is partly situated in the neighbouring country of Hungary, where they are also well-known wine-growing areas (Vilanji). In the Hungarian language, Baranja means mother wine.
This is a unique case where a region was named after a wine, not the other way around.
Historical information about the area
The place Batina, according to numerous archaeological sites, was inhabited in the early Iron Age. There, are also written documents, which show that Batina was at one time part of the Roman province of Pannonia and acting as the north-eastern border of the Roman Empire, the so called Danube limes. Here too a Roman military fortress was located that served as a lookout and accommodated a vanguard since the empire was threatened by the so-called barbarian tribes that came from the east and threatened the borders of the empire. Above Batina, on a hill above the Danube, are the remains of the ancient Roman fort called Ad Militare, which you can see in the following Youtube video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbyFZYyQ-08
Why do we mention the Romans in regards to wine? Because in ancient times of Roman, the culture of drinking wine was very developed and in all their provinces that had the potential to produce grapes they handed over their knowledge of grapes and wine production. Besides for drinking, wine was also used to disinfect wounds of soldiers. The area of Batina was called by Romans Aureus Mons, meaning “golden mountain”. It is believed that the inspiration for this name originated due to the soil and climate that was exceptionally favourable for growing grapes.
Officially, the place Batina was founded in 1720 and was inhabited by Croats, Serbs, Hungarians and Germans, although the tax books mentioned it even earlier, in the year 1591 at time when the Turks were still conquering the region.
Later, Batina became part of the Austro-Hungarian state, and after its disintegration became part of Yugoslavia. In 1944, during the Second World War, one of the major battles took place in which over 10,000 soldiers of the Russian Red Army were filled and who in their march towards the west decided in Batina to force their way towards the Danube and hence arrived on its right bank and continued to advance further westward. In memory of the fallen soldiers of the Red Army, after the war at the site of a Roman fort Ad Militare a monument was erected and a memorial park with a museum referring to the battle was established. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, Batina remained part of Croatia, which is now an EU member.
The soil and climate
The soil on which our vineyards are located is yellowish and loess. It is sandy and filtrated, and as such, grapevines like it. The high proportion of sand in the soil provides a pronounced mineral content in our wines. The vineyards are located about 200m above sea level in the highlands of Bansko Brdo.
The climate is continental, with very cold winters and hot summers. Winter temperatures fall to -30 °C, and in summer, they often exceed 35 °C. Annual rainfall is between 660-700 mm and very well distributed when taking into account the conditions required by the vines. It turns out that the microclimate of the area where our vineyards are located is exceptionally large and the mighty Danube River has a beneficial impact. It is known fact that other countries also have great wine-growing areas just near their rivers, for example, the Rhine in Germany or Ron (Rhone) in France. Therefore, along the Danube there are several wine-growing areas, while in Croatia there are three such areas. The best proof that an area is suitable for wine growing is when you notice that there are vines growing wildly. This is what happens in this area.
About the winemaker
The owner of the vineyard and the Kalazic winery is Slavko Kalazić, who was born in 1962, and trained as an electrical engineer. He fell in love with electronics back in his childhood and as 15 year-old built his first radio receivers and transmitters as well as numerous other electronic devices. He became an avid radio amateur, participated in numerous international amateur competitions and achieved third place in one of them, and in the next, second place in the world. His passion towards electronics and radio communications was immense. He began his business career in 1988 by opening a workshop for repairing radio equipment and television sets in Osijek, around 30 kilometres from the current vineyards. So he began to live his dream that one day he would enjoy repairing electronic devices. After just one year, in addition to the workshop, which was a very successful business, he opened a electronic equipment shop also in Osijek, and shortly thereafter opened the same kind of shop in Zagreb.
With a total of 14 employees, the business went well, and in 1998 Slavko Kalazić, already a bit tired and fed up with the business decide to buy a cottage in Baranja, above Batina in a place with a beautiful view overlooking the Danube River. He was won over by the area, not only because of its beauty but also due the very pleasant energy that can be nicely felt there. This is an area surrounded by forests, rivers, backwaters, without any pollution, as there is no industry and for centuries, it has been oriented mainly towards agricultural production. The cottage that he bought had also about 600 grapevines, though somewhat neglected. Very soon a dilemma appeared: root out the old abandoned vineyard and in its place plant grass and clean it up, or nurture and restore the vineyard. He knew that renewing a vineyard requires a lot of work and patience.
Besides the pleasant memories of childhood when in a small village where Slavko was born almost every household had a small vineyard from which wine was made for their needs and where Slavko as a child came into contact with grapevines and wine which his grandfather had produced, he finally decided to retain the existing vineyard and renew it. It was a crucial moment that determined the direction of the business in the coming years, leading up to this day.
Although then, with no proper knowledge of grapes and wine production, Slavko was very satisfied with his first wine from the 1998 harvest, which he made with the help of his father. Of course, they were small amounts, which he mostly shared with their friends and relatives. However, it gave him the impetus the next year to produce his own wine and endeavoured to make it even better than the first. So year after year, Slavko studied winemaking at his small estate in Baranja and along the way noticed that the surroundings had excellent plots of land suitable for planting vineyards, but these were used back then to cultivate wheat, corn and other crops.
After 6 years of producing his own wine and having considered himself ready for bigger challenges, in 2002 Slavko Kalazić made a business decision to buy 25 hectares of land suitable for planting vineyards and commence with serious production of wine and grapes. All this was preceded by a detailed market analysis, a tour of the existing wineries and wine producers in Croatia and neighbouring countries and the development of business studies. The main goal of the venture was not to make even more money, because the electronic business, which was flourishing at the time, could truly provide a very good life.
The main goal of this endeavour was to enjoy creating a new business completely different from the previous, living more in contact with nature and showing Croatia and the world what can be done with wine in Baranja, and which the ancient Romans knew how to do, but in the meantime had become forgotten. Hence, an inexhaustible passion and energy, which was invested earlier in dealing with electronics was now redirected towards the production of grapes and wine. Those positive character traits that an electronics expert possesses (accuracy, precision, meticulousness, orderliness, sense of detail) were transferred to wine production. This is what any serious wine producer should possess besides intuition.
After buying land for vineyards, there followed the choice of assortment, the ordering of vine grafts, preparing the soil for planting, and finally planting the first 50,000 vines in 2004, and then the next 52,000 grapevines a year later. That means, in all 102,000 vines were planted. It was a modern plantation, and for which the knowledge and experience of winegrowers from most developed countries were used. As there was a great curiosity as to which grape produces the best results in wine production in Baranja, as many as 10 varieties of grapes were planted, of which 7 white and 3 red varieties.
In all 16.5 hectares of vineyards were planted, with the rest of the land being prepared for the planting new vineyards as soon as market demand appears. Otherwise, up until then, the red varieties were unjustifiably neglected in Baranja. Today, it has been shown that the red varieties that provide excellent results in wine. There is a responsible and friendly relationship towards the soil, the environment, vines, grapes and finally the wine, which in the end can be felt in the glass.
Protecting vines against disease is solely ecological, for which we have the certificate. The vineyards are planted relatively densely with about 7,000 vines per hectare, in order to burden each individual vine less. The result is high quality grapes with a large share of the total extract of wine, perfect for producing excellent wines and wines that have a long life.
Another consequence of a small vine load is a much longer lifetime for the vineyards and greater resistance to vine diseases. From our current vineyards, we produce about 175,000 kg of grapes per year.
The grape harvest is done solely by hand, the traditional way.
Kalazic winery is being continuously developed from the first harvest, which we had on this vineyard new plantation in 2007 until today. In the production of wine, we started with a relatively small cellar of 66m2 in all, but today we are currently in the process of constructing a modern winery area of almost 1,000m2 and twice the capacity of the currently processed amounts.
This new winery is to be completed and put into operation by next harvest, which we expect in early September of this year. We are currently producing about 150,000 bottles (0.75 litres) of wine each year. The production of wine uses traditional wooden, oak barrels providing 225 and 500 litres and modern stainless steel tanks for obtaining fresh, soft wine. The location for the new winery building has been carefully selected in order for the time of delivering the grapes from vineyards to processing to be as short as possible.
Interesting enough, in the past in this area wine production facilities were built exclusively buried in the ground, like tunnels and sometimes were not even built from brick or stone, but the walls were only made of earth, which here is strong enough and does not collapse. Usually they are 5 or more meters below the ground, and have a length of 20 to 50 meters. In these cellars with no air conditioning in summer and winter, the temperature is constant and ranges between 13 and 15 °C, which is ideal for processing and storing wine.
Humidity is also ideal for keeping the wine in wooden barrels, as well as for freshening wine in glass bottles sealed with a cork stopper. Before in Batina, almost every house had this kind of higher or lower basement. They are called “gatori”, and were located mostly in the “surduci”, resulting from water runoff from the hills during heavy rains. As the soil is sandy, without stone, on its way to the Danube the water has carved deep ruts that are now streets where there “enclosures” or cellars are located.
Baranja has proven to be a Croatian continental wine district offering the greatest potential for premium wine production. What I want to say is that not used all the advantages and opportunities that this region offers have been utilised. It will become a very nice job and a challenge in the coming years.
There is hardly a continental grape variety that does not give great results in Baranja. The most common white variety is the Welsh Riesling, in Croatian “graševina”. It has recently even received recognition as an autochthonic variety by world wine authorities. This variety has shown to be a uniform yield, with relatively good resistance against disease and weather conditions, providing a very wide range of wines, from light, fresh, summer with floral scents to the sweet, very aromatic wines from the ice wine harvests.
Since we produce 10 types of grapes, of which each produce a varietal wine, and we also work on blends of white and red grape varieties. The blends are sold on the market under the name of Batina, adjacent to which are the vineyards. It is in these blends, the white and black Batina sorts that best exemplify all the splendour and potential of Baranja as a wine-growing region. There are the rich wines, the sumptuous and multi-layered, which are true representatives of Baranja given that they contain almost everything that Baranja can give to a wine.
We have been received numerous premium awards for our wines in our country and in the world, with the most awarded wines being the Traminer varieties, followed by Chardonnay, which is has been domiciled very well in Baranja as well as the Cabernet Sauvignon of the red sorts. The latter provides a wine with an incredibly great aging potential, and year in year out, the ripening provides an ever-increasing range of fragrances and flavourings. It matures for at least three years before being released onto the market. Its cousin, the Sauvignon Blanc, each year in a pleasant way surprises with its other aromatic trait.
So we have years dominated by the elder flower, followed by the acacia flower, green pepper, dried herbs or fresh nettles. An early harvest of grapes can provide a fresh and light sort, with less alcohol (11-12%), as a wine for the summer season or a slightly later harvest gives a serious, thick, creamy wine with a higher alcohol content (about 14%) that tolerates wooden barrels relatively well where after bottling it is suitable for long storage. These wines give results after several years of aging.
Our wines, in addition to domestic sales, are currently exported to Belgium, Germany and Poland. The good price to quality ration results in our continuous growth in sales year after year.