by Mate Paškanović Pavković
It is not unusual to read in Croatian news about how Slavonia, a bountiful region full of opportunity is now emptying. Although this is not a specific problem to Croatia, with countries like Italy giving financial incentives to young people to start agricultural projects, the Croatian agrarian sector has faced many difficulties and challenges in transitioning to compete on the European market. In spite of these challenges, one Slavonian family continues to cultivate and preserve the traditions of Slavonians, while helping those around them succeed.
On May 24th, I had the honor to accompany a delegation of journalists who embarked on their journey to the Enosophia winery in Feričanci. Founded in 1804, this winery is located in a small but significant village in the Erdut Slavonian Region, situated just northwest of Našice. The winery, which the Ergović family started In 1996, today produces high-quality red and white which they export to Canada, the United States and other EU countries. Part of their success is working with grape growers in the region to produce high quality grapes for their wines and investing in young Croatian oenologists and workers.
The purpose of the delegation was to present Enosophia’s new wine collection. These wines were curated by young Croatian oenologists who were trained by the great Mike Grgich of California. From the new collection, “Nice to see you,” “Today Blanc,” “Trs No. 5,” and “Rubi Fusion” were taste tested throughout the day and were elegantly paired with a 4-course meal that highlighted the flavor profiles of each wine.
The New Distillery
When we arrived, we started the day trying the dry, mildly fruity sparkling wine Nice to see you. This versatile Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend gives off notes of citrus, sour cherry and raspberry and is perfect to pair with appetizers and desserts. At the old vineyard, we were served “Today Blanc” and “Today Rose,” both fruity, dry and easy to drink wines that can be paired with some light appetizers.
While savoring the aromas and flavors of these wines, the media delegation focused its attention on the fermentation vessels. Over the past few years, Enosophia has modernized its facilities to increase capacities for its existing assortment of wines and to expand into the red and sparkling white wine markets. Their focus is to increase production without reducing the quality of wine.
Quality in the eyes of Enosophia means employing the local population, focusing on the method of cultivating grapes and producing quality wines, while also adopting modern approaches to winemaking. The Ergović family employs over 150 people at Feravino and everything from the grapes they use to the Auric wine barrels they make are all essentially local.
In efforts to promote rural tourism, the Ergović family acquired the Kurija Mihalović fort. The family is currently converting it into a heritage hotel and a wellness center with a pool. As capacities for accommodating tourists are not as developed in continental Croatia, the 6-million-dollar renovation is a welcomed investment in the Osijek-Baranya County.
The Old Cellars from 1804
Since its acquisition by the Ergović family in 1996, the old cellars have been renovated and transformed to accommodate conferences and other events. On the property, you can also find horse stables and training grounds, a proud effort to conserve the equestrian traditions of Slavonia. The horses bred in these stables have been trained by Croatian racehorse trainers, many of which have been sold to world champion racers in Hungary and elsewhere in Europe.
The Ergović family has plans to transform this equestrian and old wine cellar complex into an extension of the heritage hotel, providing tourists with a more immersive experience of the traditions of Feričanci. The proposed plans for the Kurija Mihalović and Enosophia wine cellars would propel both the agricultural and tourism sectors in Našice and help people to stay and work in the region.
The vineyard and a 4-course meal
After an exciting day so far, we were brought by horse and buggy to Enosophia’s main vineyard. When we arrived at the top of the vineyard, we were offered their new Graševina, “Trs No.5,” and “Rubi Fusion,” a red wine that is rare in the Slavonian region. The Graševina was refreshing and unlike many others of this varietal, it was drier, yet refreshing with floral notes. Rubi Fusion is a blend of the Frankovka, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon varietals. This full-bodied fruity fusion presented with sweet spices, vanilla and a smokey flavor, due to the Auric Slavonian Oak barrels that was used during the fermentation process.
To conclude the day, we were served a 4-course meal, each dish prepared with fresh local ingredients. The added challenge for the chefs was to prepare a dish that would complement each wine tested throughout the day.
Here are some of the creations he came up with:
Enosophia is an inspiring story from Slavonia, boasting both Croatian food, wine and national traditions. Enosophia is an example of how Croatians can thrive in Slavonia and by doing so, they are able to share their unique traditions with the rest of the world. Enosophia is producing wines that are award winning and are changing the wine landscape of Slavonia. Their success story is promoting viticulture in Slavonia, and paving the way for other local wineries to flourish and prosper.