Grape harvest ball » Grožđebal | 89 well in all the parts of Serbia where grapes have ripened for centuries. At the beginning of the century, King Petar I Karađorđević and his son Alexander planted the vineyards inOplenac near Topola that are still famous to this day. They produced sparkling wine that was exported, and wines from Negotin and Srem arrived on the tables of the Viennese court. When the wicked phylloxera ravaged the vineyards of France, steamships transported wine from Serbia to Bordeaux, the city that was declared the capital of wine long ago. And then the phylloxera plague reached our lands. It destroyed vineyards and emptied villages, prompting old, experienced winegrowers to set out into the unknown, with shears and grafting knives in their bags to earn a crust. They headed to France and Italy, while the more courageous ones made it all the way to California. They followed the routes of vineyards and wine, to cash in on their knowhow and buy new knowledge. Some of them passed on the stories of their old region to their offspring in the outside world and taught them songs, while some family vines returned to Serbia, to once again take root there. When the year produces a bumper crop, the grape harvest has always been an occasion for great joy. The harvest begins in late August and lasts until the end of October, depending on the region. Those in the north wait longer for their grapes to ripen. Wherever they are, they all look to the skies until the last day of the harvest, hoping for warm and dry weather that allows the grapes to accumulate enough sugar and ripen slowly. When everything goes as it should, autumn is a time of joy and work. Workers, friends and relatives gather, head to the vineyards and pick grapes, singing and joking all day long. It’s arduous work, but it has its charms. The coming of autumn in Serbia is celebrated with grape harvest balls, wine fountains and plenty of songs. With their slender legs, girls trample grapes in barrels, just as they did in bygone times. Of course, nowadays they aren’t doing it in search of a winegrower husband. They don’t show the boys the female strength required for the tough jobs in the vineyard and wine cellar. They throw themselves around the festival barrels for fun, shoot cool selfies and boast about their new experience on social networks. ThosewhoGodhas endowedwithmusicality have a different mission.They sing and revive all but forgotten songs celebrating grapes andwine.Thorns pass through the entire bodywhen they let loose their voices and sing “letme pick grapes, I choose tamjanika”, “girl digs a vineyard”, “Milorad came too early to tour the vineyard”…As there canbe no joyous celebrationwithout guys, they also sing their songs, which are less about love. It’s more important for them, as the song goes, tohave “onemore litre”, and to loudly call “innkeeper, pour more wine”. September is their time. After the harvest, juices from purple and golden grapes are converted into the best wines, with secrets that are only known by winemakers. All grape varieties, in some form or other, can today be found around the world. But it’s unavoidable for foreign guests, especially connoisseurs, to try Tamjanika and Prokupac, our autochthonous grape varieties, but also to check out the kind of results achieved here byMerlot, Cabernet, PinotNoir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Riesling. There is truth in wine, and joy and enjoyment in grape harvest balls. Cheers! Srbija ima 22 vinogradarska rejona, a najviše vinarija ima u Šumadiji, regionu tri Morave, na Fruškoj gori, u subotičkom i vranjskom rejonu, Negotinskoj Krajini i Pocerini Serbia has 22 winegrowing regions, with the most wineries to be found in Šumadija, the three Moravas region, Fruška gora, the Subotica and Vranje regions, the Negotin Valley and the Pocerina region Vinogradari u Srbiji žive u ljubavi s lozom i brinu za svaki grozd Winegrowers in Serbia live in love with the vine and care for every grape cluster FOTO: Nenad Pavlović