It is not known when Saint Bartholomew was born or when he died, so in Western Christianity he is celebrated on August 24. In addition to religious observations, this red martyr became known in folk customs as a protector of many trades, including the winegrowers.
Caption: Luiz Alberto, wine judge - founder of #winelover community - in Međimurje, Croatia, with “klopotec” in the background.
While in some cultures the feast St. Bartholomew in August has been marked for centuries with various fairs, in Croatia, specifically in the Croatian uplands, St. Bartholomew or Sveti Bartol, is celebrated traditionally as a day when winemakers check the ripeness of grapes.
Caption: Tatjana Hažić checking Traminac 8/23/2020
Just today, Tatjana Hažić, the winemaker and producer at Vinska Kuca Hažić, checked the grapes and is optimistic about this year: “Looking good!,” she says, “healthy grapes and leaves on this Traminac!”
In fact, there is a saying in Međimurje:
“Ako Bartol zrelo grožđe kuša, dobra je za muža.”
(If Bartol tastes ripe grapes, it is a good year for the husband.)
This clearly is an old saying - the assumption is that the winemaker is a man. Well, if one fast forwards to 21st century, Croatia has many women winemakers (which is an entirely different story).
In this story, the two women that play a big role are sisters Tatjana and Valentina Hažić, who are not only winemakers and producers of natural juices in this family estate, but are also organizing many events gathering people from afar to celebrate Međimurje traditions. Enter raising of Klopotec on St. Bartholomew’s celebration.
Caption: Tatjana and Valentina Hažić at Vinska Kuća Hažić
What is “Klopotec”?
The literal translation is rattle, but this is a rather big one. Klopotec consists of a large pole with sort of a mill on top, that has been built from various types of wood to create the most possible noise. The oak branches are also added for easier flow, as their leaves don’t fall after they dry. Why is the noise needed? Well, if the grapes are ripe, the birds will come for a feast and the winemakers will have none of that.
So, on St. Bartholomew, it is a tradition to gather everyone to check the grapes, raise klopotec and wish for the best possible weather for the last few weeks for the grapes. This year, there was no wind so Dean Radanović, cyclist from Zagreb, climbed up to start the rattling.
Where to Get Wines from Međimurje
With these kinds of stories of people, traditions and the attention given to the grapes, the wines of course taste great. To taste Croatian wines, including the ones made in the shadows of klopotec, you can find them for a home delivery to most US States at: www.CroatianPremiumWine.com/shop-online
Author: Mirena Bagur, Co-Founder and VP/Brand Management, of the USA-based and -operated Croatian Premium Wine Imports, Inc., , was born and educated in Croatia. Always up for adventure, after college years in Zagreb, Croatia, Mirena traveled around the world and settled in Boston, Massachusetts, where she had a career in technology marketing. She is thankful for her parents who instilled in her appreciation for the Croatian community, history and culture, for her children who love the Croatian culture, but lovingly mock her accent, and her husband who is her partner in crime.