While many visitors flock to this boutique destination for the pristine beaches that dot the Adriatic Sea, Istria offers more than just a beautiful coastline. Just a few kilometers inland, travelers are greeted with a lush green landscape and Mediterranean climate, ideal for growing the precious fruit that is used to create award-winning wines. As one of Croatia’s most developed and acclaimed wine-producing regions, the peninsula boasts several superior grape varieties including teran, moscato, and most importantly, Istrian “malvazija.”
Each year, the sweet aroma of freshly pressed grapes fills the air as the first wine bottle of the season is popped open on the Feast of Saint Martin. Before the ceremonial uncorking, a traditional custom takes place in the vineyards where the mustis officially turned into wine. This ancient pagan ritual of baptizingwine was started by a priest, Martin, in the 4th century. A wine-lover himself, Father Martin wanted to share his passion with the citizens of the town and invited them to the baptism of the wine, beginning the tradition of “Martinje”.
In his honor, each November in the small historical town of Momjan, just north of Buje, the Feast of Saint Martin (“Martinje") is celebrated with the ceremonious ritual of baptizing wine. Merry wine-lovers gather in the local vineyards with actors dressed up in the roles of a judge, bishop, godmother and godfather of the wine and praise God with their witty prayers. The wine is then baptizedand the first bottle is unlocked with the key to the wine kingdom - a corkscrew. The celebrations are accompanied by an abundance of delicious food and endless supply of wine, lasting until the early hours of the morning.
Want to celebrate with us this year? Mark your calendars for November 9th to 11th or find out more about this beloved event here on the Feast of St. Martin page.
In all colours of Istria