Sunday, 18 October 2020

Croatian Wine Envelope Funds for 2020 Almost Used Completely

As Morski writes on the 17th of October, 2020, as of October the 15th, 2020, another "wine" financial year ended. Out of the total available 10.8 million euros for 2020 within the National Wine Aid Programme, the Agency for Payments in Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development paid out 10.1 million euros to Croatian winemakers, which means that the percentage of Croatian wine envelope utilisation is higher than ever before, standing at almost 94 percent, reports the Ministry of Agriculture.

From the first programming period until now, the coverage has been expanded, ie the number of measures available to users of the Croatian wine envelope has significantly increased. The implementation framework and procedures have been simplified so that the approval and contracting process can be faster and easier. More specifically, in the new programming period, in addition to the existing three measures, a new measure of Information in EU member states was introduced, as was an upgrade of the existing Promotion measure on third country markets, with an aid intensity of 80 percent of the maximum eligible costs.

In the measure Restructuring and Conversion of vineyards, the aid intensity has been increased from the previous 50 percent up to 75 percent of the level of maximum eligible costs, the compensation of loss of income for vineyards has been introduced for a period of 3 years.

In the extremely challenging period of 2020 in which we're still knee deep, and due to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, two new intervention measures were introduced: The Distillation of wine in crisis cases and Support for the crisis storage of wine, both of which are now nearing completion. At the same time in this period, due to special circumstances and disturbances caused by the pandemic, all measures were increased, as were their respective aid intensities. Despite all of the less than favourable circumstances, the new measures, the successful implementation of contracted projects and the processing of applications have contributed to the higher utilisation of the Croatian wine envelope when compared to all previous years.

Through the National Programme for Assistance to the Wine Sector, an annual fund of 11 million euros has been provided from the European Fund and the State Budget of the Republic of Croatia in the planned five-year programming period, ie a total of more than 55 million euros for development projects in the wine and viticulture sector.

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Sunday, 20 September 2020

Meet Croatian Premium Wine Imports, Bringing Croatian Wines to United States

September 20, 2020 -  Started by Mirena Bagur, Croatian Premium Wine Imports brings Croatian wines to American addresses. 

Wines from southern Croatia are now on dinner tables in America! 

Namely, Slobodna Dalmacija reports that the American company Croatian Premium Wine Imports, Inc. (CPWI), based in Boston, received a federal license to import Croatian wines to the United States, starting with wines from the Komarna vineyards, wineries Rizman, Terra Madre, and Volarevic, and continuing with wines from Konavle from the local winery Crvik, which completes this seemingly unusual wine story.

CPWI is interested in indigenous wines such as Plavac Mali, Posip, Zinfandel, Tezor, and wineries in the south that produce these red, white, and rosé wines.

At a time of the coronavirus pandemic and great economic uncertainty, beautiful entrepreneurial stories like the one told by the Croatian wine ambassador to the USA, Mirena Bagur, who was born in Metkovic, are worthy of attention and admiration. The Crvik winery from Konavle, which is proud of its centuries-old tradition of wine production, has entered the circle of Croatian wineries whose wines have recently been successfully sold in the United States.

It is an internationally awarded wine Tezoro (silver at Decanter, silver at the International Wine Challenge, gold at Vinistra and Sabatina), which is obtained from the indigenous variety Dubrovnik Malvasia, the first grape variety mentioned in the Dubrovnik archives in the 14th century.

Much credit for this goes to Mirena Bagur, who, together with her husband Win A. Burke, an IT entrepreneur, runs the Croatian Premium Wine Imports company to import and distribute wines in the United States. They started with the wineries of the association K7 from Komarna. They recently agreed to cooperate with Testament near Sibenik, Marlais from Peljesac, and the Crvik winery, as the first Konavle winery.

Thus, through an online shop, which sends wines to most states, you can buy well-known varieties from southern Croatia, such as Plavac Mali, Dingac, Tribidrag, Posip, Babic, Debit, and Dubrovnik Malvasia. In the USA, quality Croatian wines are very well accepted, says Mirena.

"Wine connoisseurs and lovers in America give priority to quality, and all the reviews of quality experts that come to us are excellent. Younger generations want to hear new wine stories from around the world, so there is a whole new category, the so-called adventure wines, and here our wines fit perfectly. We are in constant contact with wine lovers, and we listen to comments, so this year, we are expanding our wine inventory to other Croatian wine regions as well," Mirena said.

Winemaker Petar Crvik says this is a great time to break through into wine production.

"Every year, tourists from all over the world come to our winery. It is often the Americans who ask us if they can get our wine in the United States. I am glad that our efforts and authenticity have been recognized, and I sincerely hope that more Croatian winemakers will start exporting because this is a huge opportunity for our winemaking," says Crvik.

Although Croatia still imports much more wine than it exports, the trends are still hopeful: a few years ago, imports decreased, and production and exports increased. Initiatives like this can definitely help the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, but also the whole of Croatia, find its place on the wine map of the world.

"As you know, we started cooperation with winemakers from Komarna, and since I am from Metkovic, it was relatively easy for us to form a partnership with people we know and have mutual respect. However, from the very beginning, we planned to include wines from all over Croatia. Logically, the first expansion was within the Dubrovnik-Neretva region because last year, we visited wineries in that area," Mirena pointed out.

"Apart from the top quality wines made from indigenous varieties, which is our focus, one of the reasons why we quickly included Crvik and Marlais wineries is that they understand how to satisfy the desires of American wine lovers who come to their tasting rooms. So selling their wines online went very fast. In particular, we have several former visitors to Crvik who contacted us at least once a week during the summer to see if Tezoro had arrived at our online warehouse. I don’t think there’s a better story than that," Mirena says proudly of her wine success.

"The development of online sales has always been planned, but online shopping is quite complicated due to the alcohol law in America. Still, since Win Burke is an expert in software solutions, this was feasible for us in a relatively short time with his experience. We started building an online store in 2019 and started to test sales in early 2020. Just when most restaurants were in the status quo due to the corona crisis, and direct sales in the wine sector more or less stopped, online demand for Croatian wines began, and were delivered to the home addresses of the customers," said Mirena.

"Without investments in the export of Croatian wines by the ministry, chamber, or winegrowing associations, success in the wine sector cannot be expected," concluded Mirena Bagur, who emphasizes that 50 indigenous wine labels from all over Croatia are available in the USA today.

You can read more about Croatian Premium Wine Imports here.

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Sunday, 6 September 2020

Wine Stars Light the Way for Croatian Wine Lovers

September 6, 2020 - English-speaking lovers of Croatian wine may find it a challenge to locate the types of wine scores and quality ratings that seem to saturate the rest of the wine world. Programs for wine evaluation do exist in Croatia—the first of them was Vinske Zvijezde, or Wine Stars, launched in 2013. This writer helped judge a recent Vinske Zvijezde competition on Hvar to see how the program works, and reveal the top Bogdanuša, Bogdanuša blends and Plavac Mali on the island.

Each year, Vinske Zvijezde evaluates about 200 wines in small tastings. The judges, all volunteers, are enologists, sommeliers, wine journalists, and people in the wine trade. Judges are aware only of the category of wine being tasted, the vintage and the level of alcohol, and are responsible for scoring the wines for their appearance, aroma and flavor, with the most points awarded for “quality” of aroma and flavor. The judges’ scores are averaged to arrive at the final score for each wine.

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(The next sample is poured for judges (from left) Miro Štec, Eva Krištof and Saša Zec. Photo: Julio Frangen)

The key to Vinske Zvijezde is that the competition is open to all wines on the market in Croatia. It is intended “to present the wines that a customer can find in a wine shop,” according to co-organizer Marija Vukelić of Zlatne Riječi, a wine promotion firm in Zagreb. Saša Zec, an enologist and sales and marketing specialist who organizes the tastings with Vukelić, emphasizes, “We don’t depend on any wine producer here in Croatia. Most important is that we are independent and earnest.” Enologist Eva Krištof participated simply “because I love Hvar and Hvar wines.” A former Hvar resident, she brings a keen local wine knowledge to the judging.

The results of each tasting are announced (in Croatian) on the organization’s Facebook page. Wines with scores of 90-100 points are presented with award certificates at a ceremony at the end of the year. Last year’s presentation was at the wine festival in Zagreb.

Vinske Zvijezde was founded by three wine journalists—Vitomir Andrić of Večernji list newspaper (retired); Ivo Kozarčanin, an editor at 24sata newspaper; and Željko Suhadolnik, editor-in-chief of Svijet u čaši magazine. Svijet u čaši was the first wine magazine in Croatia, and the first to include ratings.

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The top-scoring wines of the tasting of August 29 in Jelsa:

Bogdanuša (from 6 submissions)

  1. Pavičić Vina 2019 (48kn)
  2. Vina Carić 2019 (50kn)
  3. Zlatan Otok 2019 (50kn)

Bogdanuša blend (from 6 submissions)

  1. Zlatan Otok Cuvée 2018 (50kn)
  2. Vina Carić Cesarica 2019 (55kn)
  3. Tomić Beleca 2019 (70kn)

Plavac Mali (from 20 submissions)

  1. Vina Carić Plovac Ploški Barrique 2013 (130kn)
  2. Hvar Hills Pharos Maximus 2013 (200kn)
  3. Vina Leše Plavac Mali 2017 (60kn)


Saturday, 27 June 2020

Government Assistance to Croatian Winemakers Needs Prompt Realisation

As Marija Brnic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 25th of June, 2020, a package of measures for Croatian winemakers was adopted which will allocate 38.5 million kuna for wine distillation and 5 million kuna for crisis storage.

On the exact day when new data on the number of people infected with the new coronavirus in Croatia were published, Croatian winemakers finally received a bit of very welcome good news from the Government that a package of intervention measures to mitigate the negative consequences of the pandemic on wine sales was accepted.

The measures regard the conversion of the existing multi-year national programme to help the wine sector, which will, as stated, allocate 38.5 million kuna for crisis distillation of wine, and 5 million kuna for the crisis storage of wine.

For the wine sold and delivered to the approved distiller, five kuna per litre of wine has been provided and a large number of Croatian winemakers/producers are interested in the costs of transporting wine to the distiller being reimbursed, and it is expected that several dozen producers will apply for this measure.

One of them is Josip Pavic from Erdut vineyards, who is also the president of the Wine Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK). "It won't save Croatian winemakers, when it's estimated that wine consumption will fall by 50 percent due to the coronavirus crisis, but it will ease the situation," said Pavic, adding that there isn't much of an alternative to be had because harvest time is coming and warehouses are full.

Similar measures are used by other countries across Europe, which, in addition to crisis distillation and storage, also apply a third solution, the so-called green harvest in vineyards, which we haven't considered in Croatia, but some Croatian winemakers, such as Vlado Krauthaker, carry it out themselves.

Green harvesting cuts costs

"This seems like a quality solution, because we'll reduce the yield to 50 percent earlier and we'll have fewer grapes, we'll reduce the cost of production, but in turn we'll raise the quality of wine," explained the famous winemaker, adding that it's difficult to estimate losses this year.

Dino Galic from Kutjevo says that the winery will apply for both measures, more precisely for storage of about 100 to 200 thousand litres for Kutjevo, and that their Đakovo wines (between 200 and 300 thousand litres) will apply for crisis distillation.

"We also proposed that the Government, in these extraordinary conditions, help Croatian winemakers with subsidised purchases. Such measures would preserve current liquidity, which will be quickly jeopardised,'' says Galic, adding that this package won't save producers, but any help is welcome. Most Croatian winemakers sell their products here on the domestic market, but due to the uncertain tourist season, the placement of wine is still "hanging in the air", and the situation is no better on foreign markets either.

The problem, as Krauthaker explains, is in the hyperproduction of wine on a global level, and Croatia is not recognised on the world wine list. At the moment, even strong winemakers from countries like France are devising plans to mitigate the losses of this sector.

Krauthaker says the solution is for manufacturers to start connecting and acting together promoting their region, in order to gain recognition, and they will have to invest more in that.

Most Croatian winemakers used measures to preserve jobs during the crisis, and didn't need to lay off workers, and in addition to this particular package of measures, Minister of Agriculture Marija Vuckovic announced possible further measures to help yesterday, but she didn't specify what they could be.

As the parliamentary elections draw closer, the most important thing for Croatian winemakers is to start implementing the measures just adopted as soon as possible. Yesterday, the Vice President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce for Agriculture and Tourism, Dragan Kovacevic, appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture and especially to the Agency for Payments in Agriculture to start implementing these measures urgently, so that winemakers could receive support as soon as possible.

"We expect an urgent announcement of the tender for the implementation of these measures, so that due to the deadlines, they wouldn't jeopardise the realisation of the secured funds, especially for the crisis storage measure.

The members of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce Wine Association are therefore looking for a quick reaction and a simple tender procedure, without unnecessary administration,'' stated Dragan Kovacevic.

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Thursday, 5 December 2019

Premiere Tasting of Young Škrlet Wines at Zagreb Advent

Unique opportunity to taste nine young Škrlet wines in one place: Advent evening organized by the Moslavina Škrlet Association.

The foremost Škrlet producers of Moslavina region will premiere their 2019 harvest Škrlet wines to wine lovers at the Forum Gallery in Teslina 16, on Friday, 6th of December, 2019, from 17 to 22h.

Five medals from the recent Decanter awards for Škrlet wines are proof this variety is claiming its deserved spot on the wine list of Croatia and the world, one out of 120 indigenous Croatian varieties.

Visitors will have the opportunity to be the first to taste 9 young Škrlet wines from the 2019 harvest, one of them produced jointly by the Association members.

The ticket price is 60 kuna, including wine tasting and meeting the winemakers. Visitors will also be able to purchase promotional materials with the Škrlet brand.

The entire event has been financially supported by Zagreb County.




Friday, 30 August 2019

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

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.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more. If you're a lover of Croatian wine, give Total Croatia Wine a follow for more information.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Why International Wine Experts are Heading to Dalmatian Islands

August 4, 2019 - The exciting indigenous grapes on Dalmatia's islands are attracting increasing international interest. Great piece by Kate Hawkings in The Buyer on a visit to Korcula.

When I moved to Hvar in 2003, I had no idea it was a wine island or that, in fact, I had bought a house in the Dalmatian wine capital, Jelsa. I carried on in innocent ignorance for about 7 years until I started researching for the first edition of my guidebook, Hvar: An Insider's Guide. 

And then I became fascinated. Not only did Hvar have some excellent winemakers, but the grapes themselves made the Hvar wine story even more interesting. It is said that there are 130 indigenous varieties all over Croatia, and I had no idea that Hvar was so rich in them. 

The most famous is Bogdanusa, literally a 'gift from God', but there is also Prc and Darnekusa. I want to say Kuc as well, although from memory this exists elsewhere under a different name.

And then the longer I stayed, the more I discovered, most notably with Jelsa winemaker Teo Huljic, who introduced me to the Mekuja grape (he is the only one to make a 100% Mekuja, just 600 bottles). The following year, he opened one of only 70 bottles of Palarusa, an almost forgotten grape that even some Hvar winemakers had never heard of. Kortolaska is another rare variety only found on Hvar. 

The more I looked, the more impressed I became. the islands of Croatia seemed to excel in indigenous varieties - you can learn more about them in Indigenous Wine Varieties on Croatian Islands.

And international wine experts are taking an increasing interest. The most high-profile of these, of course, is Jo Ahearne MW, the first Master of Wine to make wine in Croatia, much of it from Hvar's indigenous varieties. 

Jo was featured in a great in-depth piece largely set on Korcula by Kate Hawkins in The Buyer. 

Read on to find out why the international wine community is getting excited

Learn more about the wines of Croatia in the Total Croatia Wine guide.

Monday, 10 June 2019

WOW Awards Ceremony and 8th Birthday of Women on Wine Held in Zagreb

June 10, 2019 - Association WOW/Women on Wine, popular as „WOW-ice “, is a very active (and pretty large) group of around 200 women throughout Croatia that are involved in promoting wine. Some are wine professionals – sommeliers, oenologists or wine bar owners and others are just wine lovers or wine and lifestyle journalists just like their president and founder, journalist and editor Sanja Muzaferija. Their mission is to constantly encourage young wine producers, especially women, but also give credit and regularly award all wine producers who please their demanding and educated palates.

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For eight consecutive years, they give out awards for the Croatian WOW wine of the year in five categories: sparkling, white, rosé, red and dessert wine. The whole process of choosing the best wines is somewhat humorously titled What Women Want and lasts for about two months. Designed by Muzaferija, the selection is everything but lightly taken. It consists of three different steps, the first one being a sort of nomination/pre-selection list. The author of the list is a different renowned Croatian sommelier every year and the duty was previously performed by esteemed sommeliers such as Karin Rupene-Perdec, Alena Stuparić, Siniša Lasan, Mario Meštrović, Roko Bekavac, Jelena Šimić Valentić, and Željko Bročilović Carlos- This time, sommelier Filip Savić was appointed for the job.

žiri, Sanja Muzaferija, Jasna Mohor by SM.JPG

The initial selection list always holds 5 sparkling wines, ten whites, five rosés, ten reds, and five dessert/sweet wines. The whole story begins from the initial selection list and after all the members of WOW have had one month to vote by mail, they come up with 12 finalists. The third and final phase of the contest is a blind tasting by three women knowledgeable in wine matters. They are the ones who choose the WOW wine in every category and the one that is being awarded the WOW Grand Prix Wine of the year title – regardless of the colour, price or style of the wine.  All five winning wines get a nice sculpture designed by famous designer collective GRUPA, but the main prize of this very well accepted and after 8 years, very well respected choice, is an attractive trip to one of the famous world wine regions, provided and powered by WOW.

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So far, the winners travelled all over Europe: Gianfranco Kozlović to Bordeaux, Saša Senjković to Champagne, Moreno Coronica to Barcelona and Penedes, Luka Krajančić to Burgundy, Frano Milina Bire to Austria and the representative of Meneghetti winery took a trip to Tuscany. Last year’s winner, Alen Bibić, declined the trip due to previous engagements. The awards ceremony for the 8th WOW Grand Prix took place, traditionally, in the restaurant Balon in Zagreb.  The final jury consisting, naturally, entirely of women, has gathered previously at Jadranka bistro and has spoken their final word. They were: well-known and esteemed sommelier Karin Rupena Perdec as the president of the jury; Ines Matić, sommelier and Doris Srpek of the famous wine shop and wine bar Bornstein.

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The wines that made it to the finals are: Sparkling –  Blanc de Noir, Peršurić and Pavel, Šember, and the winner is - Blanc de Noir, Peršurić.  

White wines: Meneghetti White 2017, Meneghetti; Grimalda white 2015, Matošević and Škrlet 2017, Voštinić- Klasnić - and the winner is the Meneghetti White 2015. In rose wines, the finalists are the Rosella Poletti 2017, Poletti and Rose Galić 2017, Galić. The winner is Rosella Poletti 2017. Red wines: Fuga 2015, Dobravac winery; Santa Lucija red 2015; Kozlović winery and Il Primo 2015, Fakin winery. The winner is Il Primo, Fakin winery. Dessert wines in the finals: Muškat Momjanski, Prelac winery and Graševina izborna berba prosušenih bobica 2015, Krauthaker winery. And the winner is Graševina izborna berba prosušenih bobica 2015, Krauthaker. The overall winner and the WOW Grand Prix new owner is Marko Fakin of Motovun with his Il Primo red wine that instantly gained the star status, not only among women voters.  The winner will visit the Hungarian wine region Villany in July. After the awards ceremony – the wine crowd stayed on to celebrate the 8th birthday of the WOW association together with the wine producers who proudly held their WOW „stars“/awards and the media.

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Photos of the jury: Silvija Munda

Photos of the ceremony: Rene Karaman

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Friday, 18 January 2019

Croatian Family Wine Businesses Even Attracting Americans

Plešivica is an oasis for lovers of traditional gastronomy and wine-making, a longtime favourite destination for many of Zagreb's residents, Plešivica is famous for its many vineyards, wineries, sparkling wines and traditional food. Several Croatian family wine stories are attracting attention even from across the Atlantic.

As Marta Duic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 18th of January, 2019, the Šember Winery, located in the village of Donji Pavlovčani, is famous for its sparkling wines that have been produced in their vinery for years. Ivanka Šember, the wife of a winery owner who helps him run the family business, says their sparkling wines are produced from old varieties which grow only on Plešivica. They have an old vineyard with fifteen different old and almost forgotten varieties, to which winemaker Zdenko Šember gives his special attention. He inherited this vineyard from his late grandmother and has since turned it into a flourishing business.

This year, this Croatian family winery business also produced a variety of new wine sparkling wines, a white sparkling wine from a black pinot, a sparkling wine of the old varieties which were kept in clay pots originating from Georgia. The production of amphora wines deeply buried in the ground is an extremely old tradition over in Georgia, and today many Croatian winemakers use this method. This method of wine production makes each wine, including sparkling wine from the assortment of this winery, completely different in flavour when compared to others.

"My husband loves experiments, and some of them also get to see the market!" said Ivanka Šember. The Šember Winery is one of the few in the Republic of Croatia which manually produces its sparkling wines, each step done with their own hands and without any machines. As the Croatian family say themselves, everything has been made even easier since they obtained a new 320m cellar. In the construction of the cellar, which was co-funded through the National Wine Sector Support Program, this wine oriented Croatian family invested more than two million kuna, and their plans for this year are to further expand their vineyards by another three hectares.

"When it comes to our sparkling wines, our best sellers are rose, this year we have doubled our production, and we're currently producing 40,000 bottles. We're the first winery to have been producing sparkling wines from old Plešivica varieties, explained Ivanka Šember.

Located in the village of Lokošin Dol, the Braje Winery is known for its homemade food served with homemade wine. Robert Braje is the winemaker in this Croatian family, and his wife, Sandra, is an expert in local gastronomy and has been the chef in their restaurant for the last eight years. In this Croatian family business, their son shows interest in wine production, and Robert says that if this continues, he will soon expand his vineyards, which today already stretch to 3.5 hectares.

They purchase only a very small amount of their grapes, and from varieties that have a special emphasis on Red Waltz, an Austrian variety which is only offered by very, very few here in Croatia. As is the case with many Croatian wineries, the Braje Winery also serves numerous homemade dishes which pair well with the selection of wines that they produce and offer to their guests.

"From the very beginning, we've been doing everything business-wise as a real family. We produce 15,000 to 18,000,000 litres of wine, and a third of all that is sold right here at our very door. We also prepare meals from either our own or other locally grown vegetables, we make our own apple and pear juices. We have ducks, chickens, pigs, and a cow,'' explained Braje.

Their goal is to locally produce food and wine for their guests, in order to get them to notice and appreciate the distinct differences. "I cook and prepare everything, which is almost all made from local ingredients, we have a cow so that we can have our fresh cheese, cream and milk, eggs from our chickens, sausage and bacon from our pigs, and if we don't have enough of our own vegetables, we buy it from other producers in the neighbourhood. I make homemade bread, pasta, noodles... Our guests come either individually or in small groups, and we have many guests from the USA,'' noted Sandra Braje.

Režek Winery is yet another traditional Croatian family business that Damir Režek inherited from his father, Drago. "Our story began with my great-grandfather Roko, who had 40,000 vines, and the most famous type he had was a Portuguese variety. That Portuguese variety is the very story of my family and I'm glad that this slightly forgotten variety has now been revived, and my grandfather later brought new varieties, such as sauvignon, and was one of the largest producers in this region,'' stated Damir Režek.

The last vineyard was planted back in 2005, so now they have four hectares and about 20,000 vineyards.

Vinarija Kolarić in Hrastje Plešivičko is known for its rich homemade food, wines, and sparkling wines. Franjo Kolarić has a restaurant and since 2009 a mini hotel with sixteen rooms in which he has invested more than three million kuna. As he says, he's typically full from May to October. A warehouse for sparkling wine was built back in 1997 and Franjo is currently working on a new line of sparkling wines, in which he planning to invest 1.5 million kuna.

Thanks to the extension of the restaurant there is now seating for more than 170 people, and in addition to the sixteen rooms currently available, he plans to build an apartment this spring. In addition to all of the above, one of his plans is to build a small brewery and produce small quantities of craft beer.

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Click here for the original article by Marta Duic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Croatian Wine Regions: Slavonia & Danube

January 8, 2019 — In the fourth and final article of the Croatian Wine Regions series, TCN unveils Slavonia and the Danube plains, the country's largest winemaking region.

The easternmost Croatian winemaking region is first and foremost characterized by the three rivers that enclose it: the Danube, Drava, and Sava. The closeness of these three rivers creates a special microclimate which is especially favorable for the cultivation of Graševina; the region's no.1 white variety.

Slavonia's darling, Graševina is in Germany known as Welschriesling, and its closest relative is said to be Elbling, though this white variety supposedly originated in northern Italy, where it is known as Riesling Italico. In Croatia, however, Graševina spreads on more than 8,000 hectares of vineyards, from the city of Daruvar, through the famous Zlatna dolina (lit. Golden Valley) around Kutjevo to the far east of Baranja, Ilok, and Srijem. However, it is often said that the finest Graševina comes from the sun-drenched vineyards of Kutjevo which is nestled in the very heart of Slavonia, in a valley surrounded by a low mountain range.

Croatian wines Slavonia

Depending on the terroir, Graševina wines can range from the delicate, refreshing styles found in western Slavonia to quite opulent, dry, fresh and mineral styles from central Slavonia, to mature, robust, full-bodied Graševina wines hailing from the Danube plains.

In addition to Graševina, the area around the eastern border of this region is also championing Chardonnay, Traminac (aka Gewürtztraminer), Rajnski Rizling (aka Rhine Riesling), and Sauvignon. As for the reds, Slavonia is mostly home to Frankovka (aka Blaufränkisch) and Zweigelt, but also Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

Slavonia has a cold continental climate, so as a general rule, the vineyards in this region are dominated by white varieties that produce dry, fresh and aromatic wines. Also, the region is becoming recognized for its sweet icewines that can age for decades and are regarded as jewels of this region.

And apart from its wines, Slavonia is also known for the world-famous Slavonian oak which is used for making wine-aging barrels not just in Croatia but also in neighboring Italy.

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