Sv. Ivan Zelina is a small town just north-east of Zagreb and it’s the centre of the Prigorje winemaking region. The hills around Zelina have traditionally been filled with vineyards, but in the past the wines produced in the region were not known for their quality. In recent years, since many younger winemakers have started making wine there, as well as elsewhere in Croatia, that has changed quite a lot, and these days there are several wineries making great wine in Zelina.
Puhelek-Purek family winery is one of those, best known amongst wine lovers in Croatia for their attempts at branding and promoting kraljevina, an indigenous variety from the region as a variety capable of producing high-quality wines. Currently the winery is run by father of the house, Stjepan, and both of his daughters Nataša and Ivana have degrees in viticulture and work in the family’s vineyards and help make wine.
Kraljevina is, as expected, the star of their cellar and most of their vineyards have kraljevina vines, and not just any vines as well: in the past few years the winemakers from the region have worked with the experts from the Faculty of Agronomy to create virus-free clones. And those clones, with the best possible characteristics, were selected and are now being planted in young vineyards in Zelina, to allow winemakers to make even better kraljevina wines. Puhelek-Purek family are producing and bottling the so-called green kraljevina (Kraljevina zelena) and fragrant kraljevina (Kraljevina dišeča), both very fresh, not alcoholic, “summer” wines. Kraljevina zelena is, of course, ideal to be used in gemišt, although the family would like as many of their customers to enjoy it on its own, without the water and the bubbles. And yes, they have bubbles of their own to offer you, as they have decided to try creating the sparkling wine using the grapes from young kraljevina vines, and have been producing Kraljica, a light and tender sparkling wine, made using the classic method, with flowery aroma with a hint of spices.
Their sauvignon blanc is often called the best sauvignon of the region, and is probably the best value for money of the variety in Croatia, it’s semi-dry, and has a perfect balance of freshness and fragrance, which is something you want to see in a sauvignon. Their graševina, called Grašica, is a wonderful representative of graševina growing in this region, an ideal easy drinking fresh wine, perfect for a barbeque in your back yard, either as gemišt or on its own.
The family also has a wonderful tasting room that can host up to 50 people, where you can make an appointment and enjoy the wines as well as food prepared in a traditional manner from the local ingredients.