16 Days to Christmas: Grape Picking in the Warm Hvar Sun

By paul 10 Dec 2014, 09:42 AM What's On This Month?

What else to do 16 days before Christmas than pick grapes in the warm sun on Central Dalmatia's vineyard of the year?

 I have come to accept not to plan too far ahead with my time since I started Total Hvar, for the unexpected is always around the corner... 

After a wet but wonderful week in Zagreb, Osijek and Baranja, it was nice to catch up with friends over a late morning cold one on the square in Jelsa in trademark bright sunshine. Legendary winemaker Andro Tomic was at the next table with that twinkle in his eye which means my plans were about to change.

"Do you want to come grape picking tomorrow morning with us?"

Grape picking? 16 days before Christmas? Surely the harvest has been gathered weeks ago? Andro explained that some grapes had been left for a late season harvest, something which happens only in certain years when conditions are right (I remember PZ Svirce produced a 0.50 litre late harvest, just 2,400 bottles, all of which were bought by the Chinese for almost 50 euro a bottle). This was the first time Andro was harvesting this late in the season.  

If it is possible to fall in love with a vineyard, then I have found my viticultural lover. The new organic Tomic vineyard near Vira, just north of Hvar Town, is quite simply sensational, and it was voted Central Dalmatia's Vineyard of the Year a few months ago. Andro has plans to build a wine tasting facility there, which will bring wine tourism to the next level on Hvar. If only my trademark substandard photography had not been enhanced by a cloudy screen... 

The Tomic pickers were out in force, diligently combing the well-ordered vines for any grapes still left on the vines after the main harvest.  

Croatian National Television was on hand to record the event. 

For, as his workers told me, it is genuinely a newsworthy event when Andro actually picks the grapes himself... (only joking Barba Andro).  

All in all, some 400 kilos of late-harvest Cabernet Sauvignon were gathered, enough to make a very special wine, which will appear under a new Tomic label. But not for a few years... One to watch out for.

Picking grapes in the sun 16 days before Christmas - life is never predictable on Hvar.