The history of Fruška Gora vineyards is an exciting story. Many people are familiar with the fact that the planned planting of vines on Fruška Gora dates back to the reign of Emperor Probus (Marcus Aurelius Probus), who allowed vineyards to be raised in the Roman provinces as well. The disappearance of the Romans from the historical stage did not threaten the vineyards at Fruška Gora because the Hungarian and Slavic population, which flooded the vast areas of Pannonia, continued to grow them. Viticulture continued developing thanks to the knowledge and skills brought to these areas by Christian missionaries, and monasteries and manorial estates became the centres of development. The Hungarian kings Bela IV in the 13th century and Matthias Corvinus in the 15th century introduced privileges for the renewal of vineyards and the development of Srem viticulture, which became highly valued throughout Hungary.
During the period of Turkish rule in Srem from the 16th to the beginning of the 18th century, the vineyards were first deserted due to war destruction, only to be restored in peacetime. Throughout the restoration period, the production of red wines and the planting of table grape varieties began at Fruška Gora. In the 18th century, many authorities from that time, including the Austrian Friedrich Wilhelm von Taube, believed that the quality of Fruška Gora wines did not lag behind the Italian ones. Von Taube singled out both white and red Karlovci wines as very high quality. His contemporary, the Renaissance figure, Zaharije Orfelin, who also proved to be a writer of professional literature on viticulture, claimed that Karlovci and monastery wines are among the best at Fruška Gora, and that red wines and Schiller are the most appreciated.
According to many sources, during the migration to the territory of the Habsburg monarchy, the Serbs brought Skadarka, a variety that Hungarians call Kadarka and from which an excellent red wine is made that smells after red and dark fruit, and has an occasional hint of discreet note of spices such as pepper and cloves. The archimandrite of the Rakovac monastery and winegrower, Prokopije Bolić, also wrote about (S)kadarka as one of the most common Fruška Gora varieties in a vineyard manual printed at the beginning of the 19th century. He also noted the fact that 35 grape varieties were grown at Fruška Gora at that time, among which, in addition to Skadarka and Skadarka white, there were also the following autochthonous varieties: Tamjanika (Tamyanka), Peršun grape, Tamjanika black, black and red Drenak, Čađavica, red and white Dinka, etc. In the 18th and 19th century, the unique Karlovci wines Bermet and Ausbruch were an obligatory part of the efforts of the Karlovci metropolitans who were supposed to obtain privileges for the Serbian people and their church from the authorities, whose centre was in Vienna.
Another historical fact regarding the Fruška Gora vineyards, which, as the one related to Probus, is often mentioned, is the crisis of viticulture caused by phylloxera. Mass drying of vineyards at the end of the 19th century led to the impoverishment of many families involved in wine growing. After that temptation, the vineyards of Fruška Gora were slowly renewed, but on a new surface with the use of American wine varieties and new ways of soil preparation. In addition to red Slankamenka, the following varieties were also grown: Smederevka, white Skadarka, white and red Ružica, Prokupac, Frankovka, Portuguiser, Italian Riesling, Muscat Hamburg, etc. However, until World War II, the vineyards were rebuilt on a significantly smaller area than was the case before the occurrence of phylloxera.
After World War II, in the socialist Yugoslavia, initially within the centralized planned economy, and from 1950 within the concept of self-government, co-operative organizations, agrarian societies and other forms of social property in production were created. In the Fruška Gora area, the capacities of the impressive wineries, which also owned large vineyards, were established in Irig, Petrovaradin and Erdevik. At the same time, the owners of private vineyards could make wine only for their own needs. In that period, among the varieties that were grown, Italian Riesling dominated, followed by Rhine Riesling, Traminac, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, White and Red Burgundy. In the seventies of the last century, thanks to experts from the Institute of Fruit Growing and Viticulture from Sremski Karlovci, three domestic newly created white wine varieties of Neoplanta, Sirmium and Župljanka were verified; during the following two decades two new varieties for red wines, Rumenka and Probus, and later the following varieties for white wines: Sila, Nova Dinka, Petra, Zlata, Lela, Liza, Mila, Lasta and early Riesling were also verified. The monopolistic position of large wineries in the socialist system of economy led to the reduction of private areas under vineyards, which ultimately led to a decline in the production of Fruška Gora wines and that could be interpreted as the introduction to the decline of large wineries.
With the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the process of changing the political and economic order in the newly formed states began, which was accompanied by the privatization of social property. Private property has become dominant in the modern market economy. In accordance with that, at the end of the 1990s and during the 2000s, the period of progress of private wineries in the Fruška Gora area began. New vineyards are being raised on private estates with the application of modern technologies, and innovations are also being introduced in the technology of wine production. In the first decade of the 21st century, six new white grape varieties suitable for organic wine production were verified, including Bačka, Panonija and others.
The contemporary assortment for the production of white Fruška Gora wines consists of: Italian Riesling, Chardonnay, Župljanka, Sauvignon, Traminac, Neoplanta, Sila, Rhine Riesling, etc., and for red wines: Merlot, Probus, Frankovka, Portuguiser, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir etc. The incentives for raising new vineyards, grape processing plants, wine storage, equipping wine tasting rooms provided by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Serbia and stimuli brought by tourist demand have led to the fact that today many Fruška Gora settlements such as Sremski Karlovci, Sremska Kamenica, Rakovac, Ledinci, Beočin, Čerević, Banoštor, Neštin, Irig, Rivica, Mala Remeta, Novi Slankamen, Šid and Erdevik are developing as centres of wine tourism. Family wineries dominate, where the multi-generational tradition of wine production is combined with new technologies in such a way that each family wine story has a recognizable note and aroma as a tale that brings a desirable and warm emotion.
Text: Gordana Stojaković
Photographs: Aleksandar Milutinović
Tourism Organisation of the City of Novi Sad is not responsible for changes in information and services.
The text posted in: May 2021
References: Cindrić, Petar and Vladimir Kovač (2007) “Vinogradarstvo i vina“ (“Viticulture and Wines“) Fruška Gora. Ed. Nebojša Jovanović and Jelica Nedić. Pp. 471-499. Beograd: Zavod za udžbenike.