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News / 05/24/2015 / 1108

LET THE WINE JOURNEY BEGIN

vinarija-zvonko-bogdan

We have already reconfirmed that Serbia is undergoing a new revolution, this time the wine revolution. Wine consumption per capita continues to grow, the number of wineries is increasing, wine culture is on the rise ... It appears that the phenomenon is now spreading slowly like the epidemic to other areas of industry that rely on winemaking. Everything began in 2011 when the Tourist Organization of Serbia (TOS) implemented the project of tourist signalization in Serbian wine regions. There were a lot of complaints: road signs guiding tourists to wineries without facilities to welcome tourists, road signs on local roads where tourists will destroy cars before they reach the winery. Roughly, the easiest part of the job was to produce and install road signs, so only this was done. The hard job still remained, i.e. building a full-scale tourist product. And winemakers were left alone to do it.

Every beginning is difficult and requires energy and resources. In conditions when Serbian wineries focused on production improvements and vineyard extension in order to respond to (un)expected growth in demand for Serbian wines, wine tourism had to wait for its time. It seems that right now wine tourism is gaining its momentum, which is in line with the overall growth in the number of tourists in Serbia.

GWC Organization (Great Wine Capitals) has conducted a survey among its members (sample of 454 wineries from the most famous wine regions of the world). Based on the results of this research, it was concluded that 19.5% of revenue comes from the winery's activities in the segment of wine tourism. In addition, 32% of wine is sold directly in the winery. It is worthwhile to say also that not all wineries are in the same position. Wineries from Napa (USA) have no problems with tourists, because wineries from this region recorded annual visit of about 4.5 million tourists. The capacity of wine regions to attract tourists affects the profitability of wine tourism. The survey showed that for 68% of the wineries, wine tourism is financially sustainable, while in 32% of wineries, costs of wine tourism are higher than revenues.

There are still no reliable data related to wine tourism in Serbia. The fact is that proximity of highway and distance from Novi Sad and Belgrade are important factors for development of wine tourism (thus it is easier to reach the winery since wine tourism mostly takes the form of one-day or two-day trips). In order to feel the figures and understand effects of wine tourism on the local market, we can consider information that we have heard at this year's Winterfest in Kopaonik, concerning Mačkov Podrum (Tomcat's Cellar) winery from Irig (Srem wine region, North Serbia). Annually, this winery is visited by around 4,500 wine tourists, and a visitor on average buys 3 bottles of wine during the visit. Zvonko Bogdan Winery in Palić (Subotica wine region, North Serbia) receives annually about 12,500 tourists, while Aleksandrović Winery from Topola (Šumadija wine region, Central Serbia) annually receives about 15,000 tourists. This number has jumped dramatically after the opening of Hotel Izvor in Arandjelovac that throughout the year attracts tourists in Šumadija and thus contributes to development of this part of Serbia as a conference, business, spa, and apparently wine destination.

WINERIES AND WINEGROWERS OF SERBIA

The release of specialized Tourist Guidebook through Serbian wineries indicates growing popularity of wine tourism. Admiral Books Publishing House has published a paperback guide Wineries and Vinegrowers of Serbia (format 11 cm x 17 cm) with a tourist roadmap. 77 presented wineries are a personal selection made by the author, Mr Zoran Rapajić, which explains the fact that numerous small producers are included in the guide, and even some wineries that still do not have adequate facilities to receive tourists, whilst on the other hand some of the renowned wineries are omitted. In any case, this book is an ideal companion to anyone who wants to visit wine regions of Serbia. Graphic display of winery features (GPS coordinates, number of seats in the tasting hall, the vineyard surface, the possibility of winery tour, restaurant, etc.) facilitates the use of this book. An integral part of the book is a road map of Serbia indicating wineries that are described in the book. All in all, a useful book for those who prefer to spend the weekend touring wine regions of Serbia. The only remark concerning this 2015 edition of the book refers to introductory section of the book, where old figures and incorrect data have been recycled and quoted, e.g. about 4-5 liters of annual consumption of wine per capita, then false theory that Tamjanika grapes originate from South France. This means homework for the author when he published the next "updated" edition of the book.

This travel guide book  is available in bookshops and the price is around 600 dinars. You can also get the book with promotional offer (480 dinars)  in Admiral Books readers' clubs in Belgrade, Niš and Novi Sad.

Vinarije

OPEN WINE CELLAR DAY On Sunday, 31 May 2015, a sort of event which exists in many places around the world, in some wine regions even several times a year, will finally be organized in Serbia for the first time. The concept is the same, but the stars of the event are local wineries that will open wide its doors to wine lovers and provide them an opportunity to taste wines and to learn about the process of wine production.

open wine cellar day

The organizers have prepared  for this event a brochure "Wine Passport", which contains basic information about all wineries that will open wine cellars to tourists. A Wine Passport costs 500 dinars, and the passport entitles you to a free tasting of 3 wines in each participating winery.

In order to ensure success of the event, travel agencies have joined the project, so you can select a wine package i.e. organized day trips to wine regions with a tour of wineries participating in the project (http://www.magelan.rs/srbija/4516-dan-otvorenih-vinskih-podruma-31-05-2015.html)

The following wineries participate in the event:

Negotinska Krajina region: Matalj winery, Janucić winery, Vimmid winery, Radulović winery

Knjaževac region: Jović winery

Niš region: Malča cellar

Mlava region: Virtus winery

Three Moravas region: Rubin winery, Ivanović winery, Budimir winery, Botunjac winery, Rajković Brothers' Cellar, Mihajlović Cellar, Ćosić winery, Nikolić Vineyards, Minić Winery, Jagodinska vinarija, Temet winery, Cilić Domaine, Miletić winery, Dacić cellar, Levač winery

Belgrade region: Jeremić winery

Šumadija region: Aleksandrović winery, Royal winery, Arsenijević winery, Stevanović cellar, Tarpoš winery, Despotika winery

Srem region: Brestovački winery, Stojković cellar, Šijački winery, Urošević vineyards, MK Kosović winery, Veritas winery, Patrijaršijska dobra, Aleks winery, Đurđić winery, Kiš winery, Vinum winery, Živanović winery, Tomcat's Cellar, Kovačević winery, Deurić winery

Subotica region: Dibonis winery, Zvonko Bogdan winery, Tonković winery, Vinski dvor, Stanimirović winery, Šarić cellar, Riđički vinogradi vinegrowers' association, Dragić winery

Telečka region: Brindza winery, Visovi vinegrowers' association, Ačanski winery

Banat region: Somogyi cellar

South Banat region: Vršački vinogradi, Vinik winery, Bahus winery, Nedin winery, AS cellar, Sočanski winery, Galot winery

VIRTUAL JOURNEY THROUGH SERBIAN VINEYARDS

The beginnings of wine tourism promotion on internet in Serbia have been timid. There were just a handful of websites and internet portals dedicated to wine tourism, but only a few were actively involved in organization of periodic wine tours and winery visits. Among them, web portal Women & Wine kept its activities at the maximum (http://www.zeneivino.com/)

This year, a few internet websites have appeared in Serbia that focus their activities on promoting wine tourism in Serbia, which is a good sign of hope that this form of tourism will contribute to increasing consumption of wines from local wineries.

1. Vinski putevi (http://www.vinskiputevi.com/) - Web portal was created with an idea to promote wine production, vinegrowing and wine culture. Beside publishing the latest news from the world of wine, the portal aims to provide wine trips to all those who wish to visit wineries of Serbia and the region.

2. Vinski turizam (http://www.vinskiturizam.rs/) - Website designed as an online travel agency specializing in wine tourism. Since the agency headquarters are based in Topola, currently the website promotes exclusively wine tours and visits to wineries from Šumadija wine region (Central Serbia), but it can be expected that growing interest will trigger also wine tours in other wine regions of Serbia and the Balkans.

3. Vinski vodič (http://www.vinskivodic.rs/) - Website which can be helpful to wine tourists who plan to visit Serbian wineries on their own. Website provides basic information about wineries and geographical location, as well as short descriptions of wines.

4. Vinske ture (http://vinsketure.rs/) - Website, which in cooperation with a local travel agency from Novi Sad,  organizes wine tours and winery visits in Vojvodina and other wine regions.

5. VinoPivoRakija (http://www.vinopivorakija.com/) - Website that promotes wine, beer and rakija culture and producers from the Balkans.

According to official OIV data, average annual wine consumption per capita in Serbia amounted to 13.11 liters in 2011. And this figure continues to grow. Each tourist who pays a visit in the course of year to a local winery and then buys a few bottles of wine to share later with friends and family contributes to further spread of wine culture and development of local wine scene.




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Tomislav Ivanović

Awarded wine writer, wine critic and contributor to selected wine magazines. WSET3-certified author and editor-in-chief of www.vinopedia.rs. Member of Vojvodina Sommelier Association. Juror in national and international wine competitions. Lecturing about wines of Serbia and the Balkans. Local partner of Wine Mosaic organization. Co-founder of International Prokupac Day.

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