With great excitement we entered the car and headed down the highway to the north of our country. Navigation led us to the heart of the Serbian plain – a fruitful, green Vojvodina. We were greeted by the golden sunflowers that were glowing in the hot july sun, on the side of the highway. Our destination was only an hour’s drive from Belgrade. A small oasis hidden from time and space, on the slopes of Fruska Gora – the winery and the wine house KOVAČEVIĆ. The popularization of wine roads and the recognition of Fruška Gora as a particularly fruitful area has happened centuries ago. Marko Aurelius planted right here on Fruška Gora, his first lineage … The quality Marko Aurelius started, was recognized by Miroslav Kovačević, the third knee of winemakers. In the past decades he shaped it into a successful family production and high-quality wine that Serbia can be very proud of!
Only after we entered Irig, we were welcomed by a charismatic and kind young lady who took us enthusiastically in a small tour, in order to bring us closer to the production process of the royal drink – wine. In order to see what the very beginning of wine production looks like, we had to overcome a huge, steep staircase that led us to a small hill. As our “hostess” later explained to us – the picked grapes are first brought here, so that later in the production process, the natural slope and free fall would be used as much as possible. Going downhill, we walked through the rooms where, in huge presses, the grapes are being crushed by the machines that separate the flakes and scales from the meatwork, and where the wine is first held for fermentation.
At the foot of this slope stands an old wine cellar, that was built in 1930, where all the wines of the family winery “Kovačević” are kept for fermentation and cooling process. It is already here that you can see how much effort, knowledge, energy, and traditions have been invested in the production of wine for centuries, and I was quite sure that there was not only “family business” as a motivation for this fine keeping, but also unconditional love, passion, and devotion for grapes and viticulture. Wine is carefully preserved here in specially chosen, wooden, barrels of 100% oakwood, beech, etc.
According to our hostess Jovana, many foreigners are coming each year to visit the winery and the “Kovacevic” wine house: Mexicans, Japanese, Russians, Chinese …
“Kovačević” introduces a new type of wine among the first wine-producers on the serbian market, which should be a white wine that is produced in the way that red wines are produced. That wine should adorn some of the characteristics of red (strength and taste) and some characteristics of white wine (texture and drinkability), which is bright in color with golden orange tones, so called “orange wine”. These delicacies that should soon be found in wine cards are prepared according to a special, traditional Georgian recipe, and it is kept in the ceramic clay amphorae, that are buried deep below the ground. Thus it receives specific aftertaste and smell that makes it different from all other wines.
After visiting the basement, we went to the nearby monastery – Novo Hopovo. Not far from Irig, on the very edge of the forest, in the greenery of Baška proudly stands the Novo Hopovo Monastery. The people believe that it has been founded by Đurađ Branković at the beginning of the 16th century, with a church dedicated to St. Nicholas and that it was his first endowment. Due to the inscription above the entrance of the church, it was believed for a while that it was founded in 1576, but it was then established that this year the church was built on the site of the old one. Due to its architecture and history so rich in cultural and religious events, it is one of the most important Serbian monasteries. The monastery was an educational center for centuries and it was noted that the Serbs from Belgrade came to this monastery to learn to read and write. It is interesting to note that Dositej Obradovic lived here for about three years. By the way to Staro Hopovo, just two kilometers away from it, there is a small monastery lake, where you can escape from the heat and heat of the Pannonian Plain.
After the short tour of the monastery complex, and the beautiful nature surrounding it, we were fairly hungry, and our kind hostess invited us to strengthen ourselves in the Kovačević wine house.
Driving along the main road, just a few hundred meters away from the Novo Hopovo Monastery, on the left there is a real small paradise in the middle of wild nature – the wine house Kovačević. You will pass through the magnificent gate, behind which stands the house that looks like it belongs in some fairy tale of the Brothers Grimm. Parking is full of cars with various tables – which is just another proof that this little paradise is well known to true lovers of hedonism, all over the world. Everything is nicely decorated – you would feed your sould just by looking at the harmony in which lies the gate, the magical garden around the Wine House, and the very architecture of this magnificent building. Everything is radiant with warmth and imagination. As we walked through the entrance, I was wondering just how much time and imagination it took only to decorate and cultivate such a beautiful garden and flowers that enhance its beauty.
Just at the very entrance we were welcomed by a very friendly and smiling staff. I realized that this is an ideal place for a get-away weekend. An ideal place to escape all obligations. A place where all existing problems are melting and disappearing in this clean air and beautiful nature that surround this wine house.
The gigantic work done by all employees, from waiters, through receptionists and hostesses, to the main manager – works so smoothly, because they do it with a genuine smile, and, I think, with great love and respect for tradition, family business, and indescribable beauty of Fruška Gora.
In the wine house Kovačević our hosts showed us how great they are and how dedicated they are to their work, giving us a unique experience of tasting and “pairing” their traditional specialties and high-quality domestic wines.
As a result of dedication and skill, dedicated work and talent, numerous awards followed: in 2017, Kovačević winery, or its owner, Miroslav Kovačević, won the “Entrepreneur of the Year” prize at many international competitions, in Sofia and in Bucharest, Kovačević “refers to gold and silver medals – so the sparkling wine” Brut “was covered with gold, and white OrpheLine and” AURELIUS S EDITION “silver.
A very kind, cordial and eloquent manager, Jelena, explained that “Kovačević” is much more than a wine cellar and a wine house, and that this family business is planning a huge expansion in the near future, with the aim of enabling its customers to experience a complete diverse of gastronomical and hedonistic pleasures and relaxation.
Above the restaurant, ultra-modern and well equipped apartments are built, where you can rest after a delicious lunch, or have some good night sleep. From these apartments expands an amazing view of the sun-bathed slopes of Fruska Gora, where the colorful vineyards, belonging to the family “Kovacevic”, are spread. As the foreigners are often guests of this facility, and their requests often require an active holiday and active participation in the work in the vineyards, they will soon be able to participate in the hops and selection of grapes, as well as participating in the process of their own production. Active holidays will be completed by building trim tracks and walking paths around the complex, as well as various other sports facilities.
Just by sitting in the fantastic restaurant of the “Kovačević” wine house, I felt all the peace and tranquility that I have not felt for many years. As if at least for a moment I entered the Tolkien’s world or another fairytale world, where everything is perfect, where all people are benevolent, friendly and helpful, where lies the most delicious and most natural food that my tongue has ever touched, and where you can drink the best quality and beautifully chilled wine.
The entire ambience is also suitable for children, because in front of the restaurant in the beautiful garden, lies a small park for children, containing a toboggan, swings, and other amusing things for the little ones.
We’ve tried a variety of specialties from the menu. A carp (the most delicious one I tasted in my life) marinated in beets and served on mint of vegetables and spelt, light summer iceberg salad with cherry tomato, ruccola, smoked beef and feta cheese, special “mustard honey ribs” served with grilled vegetables and homemade noodles on the butter, soft and juicy veal cheeks prepared according to a special recipe. We also enjoyed a lovely desert – a coconut and lime kind-of-cheesecake, spiced with wild mint leaves, carefully picked in the forest that was in front of us.
When the moment came to return home, into the “real world”, I felt sadness and anxiety that I can not stay in this beautiful place at least for a little while, with our wonderful hosts, but I will keep this visit to the Kovacevic wine house forever in my mind as well in my heart, as one of the “golden memories”, and whenever I catch some free time, I will tend to come here again, to visit this little paradise, as well as to enjoy the combination of modern and traditional, indescribably good gastronomic pleasures, and most of all to enjoy the epic taste of my favorite red wine – Aurelius Kovacevic.