Made in Croatia

Croatian Winemakers: ''Less Grapes, But Quality Unquestionable''

By 30 August 2019

Some varieties have already been harvested and although Croatian growers are struggling with labour shortages, the harvest will be finished by the end of September in Istria, Slavonia, and down in Dalmatia...

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marta Duic writes on the 29th of August, 2019, grape harvesting is about to begin in Croatia's prominent wine-growing regions, with some varieties having already been harvested in order to make quality domestic wine.

In most Croatian regions, the yield is lower than it was last year, but winemakers have made sure to state that the quality still remains top notch this year. Oenologist Nika Silić Maroević, in charge of everything that happens in the barrels of the Korta Katarina winery in Pelješac in the far south of Dalmatia, has emphasised that this year's harvest is the closest to that of a regular, normal year.

Although concerned about Croatia's very rainy June, problems with wild boar and hail, Silić Maroević concluded that a very good harvest is awaiting Croatian growers this year.

"This year, the deadlines are almost as good as in the book, which is the best, because the vines have passed their normal ripening period, so, we expect the full potential of our vineyards to be realised. The grape harvest for rosé is underway, and the harvesting for pošip is yet to come. In recent years, we have encountered problems with finding a workforce, since we're selectively picking and don't have a constant rhythm of harvesting, we're somehow managing it, but there is a problem,'' noted Silić Maroević.

At the famous Tomić winery on the island of Hvar, the harvest started at the end of August, and the expectations are very good so far.

"The first harvest is pošip, and right after that we'll continue with cabernet sauvignon from our ecological vineyards. The quality of the grapes is excellent so far, which is also reflected in the later start of harvesting. For later varieties, we'll only see the effects in the period from September the 15th to September the 30th, and it will depend on the amount of precipitation and their ripening," Tomić explained.

Harvesting in Međimurje is only expected from around September the 15th, but winemaker David Štampar pointed out that the grapes are in exceptional condition.

"This year, we're not storing the grapes for predicate wines, but only for classic and sparkling wines. So far, we've had no problems with the workforce, and I don't think we will in the future either, because people like to go to do the harvesting. This year was really challenging because of the weather, but we love this lifestyle precisely because of the challenges it brings, too. This year, we will get some top quality wines, which are extremely characteristic of our region,'' Štampar assured.

Martina Krauthaker Grgić from the Krauthaker Winery pointed out that this year, the flowering in Slavonia in Eastern Croatia started a little later on, so the harvest is expected to start in the first week of September.

"The grapes will be smaller since last year was unusually fertile. When it comes to certain varieties, we've had made sure to have less grapes to ensure better quality, and the health of the vineyard is good, so we expect a solid harvest. There are problems with the workforce, but we've successfully found the number of pickers we need. The bigger problem is finding pickers in the immediate area because when pickers arrive from distant places, it increases the cost of the harvesting itself,'' explained Krauthaker Grgić.

The Franković Winery in Istria began with this year's harvest, as it does every year, by collecting grapes for the Stella sparkling wine base.

"We pick three varieties of white wine, malvasia, chardonnay and sauvignon for that base, and we pick the amount we need for champagne while the rest is harvested a few days later," explained Josip Franković, noting that a lack of manpower will make grape harvesting difficult this year.

"We face this problem every year and it gets harder every year, but we manage to deal with it all somehow. In terms of what we had last year, these [from 2019] are quite similar in their quality and quantity, and we're really pleased," concluded Franković.

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