Wine Cellar’s ID
A family tradition
Viticulture and winemaking constitute a family tradition and so there is no surprise in Davor Zdjelarević having followed the same road. Long ago in 1985, with his father and brother, he revived the family holding, but although their wines were among the first in the category of domestic private producers to obtain the status of wines with protected geographical origins, at that stage he had no inkling that it was to be his lasting preoccupation and life’s calling. A few years later, during a period spent studying in California’s Napa Valley, his love for wine additionally flared up, and the reason why he returned to Croatia was love again – but this time for agricultural engineer Višnja. The couple managed to get through the terrible period of the war, when with their joint forces they planted vineyards and built a kind of new future, and, in 1997, they changed their address in Zagreb for that in Brodski Stupnik, not far from Slavonski Brod, and boldly set out on the development of wine related tourism in Slavonia.
Vineyards and assortment
The modest inheritance expanded with the planting of the new vineyards, and after the collapse of the local socialist agribusiness, they brought together the local viticulturists, with whom they are still working today. Now they have 16 ha of plantations, and there is the same amount belonging to the subcontractors. At the beginning they planted only the most significant variety in Slavonia, Italian Riesling, but today with the expansion, the assortment has enlarged too. Thus in this vineyard region they were among the first to introduce Chardonnay, Rhine Riesling, White Saugivnon and Incrocio Manzonni of the whites, and with the changes in microclimatic conditions they resolved on some reds as well – Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, Black Pinot and since quite recently, Syrah. They are convinced that Slavonia is unjustly neglected and that it has a big potential when it comes to red wines. In the vineyard the life cycle of the future wine has started, and respecting the symbiosis of soil, plant and climate, they endeavour to make as little impact on nature as possible.
Cellar, technology, wines
The cellar capacity is 250,000 litres, and the annual production ranges around 200,000 to 250,000 bottles. As for technology, they keep up with developments and demands on the market, while because of their strong wish to experiment, always surprise with something new. In the broad palette of the cellar one can find fresh and zingy wines the fermentation and ageing of which takes place in stainless steel, and in a special part of the cellar there are a hundred or so barriques where wines with a richer and more powerful structure are ageing. They have recently started to market a new line of wines called A cappella, after the site called Kapelica. Grapes for these wines come only from the best of their own plantations, with obligatory maturation in Slavonian oak. Their aim is to be special and innovative.
Davor and Višnja make all the decisions together. As well as by the smoothly running team of the permanent labour force, they are also helped by their daughters Inja and Klara.
The cellar also has its Hotel Zdjelarević, and the friendly staff of the restaurant will offer you, alongside the wine, innovative lunches like Italian Riesling soup or seasonal menus based on nettles, dandelions and pumpkins. IN short, if you want to learn something more about the technology of the production or enjoy expertly run wine-tastings and the gorgeous nature, you are in the right place.
We have gone through the whole development process and we can produce wines of all categories. Our conception is to move in the direction of the production of wines that are characteristic and typical of this terroir. We want to be distinctive. The basic character is given to the wine, irrespective of the variety, by the micro-locality. What the land in essence gives the wine is important, and all the other nuances are our current inspiration and orientation to the market. Winemaking is like painting – how can you really say that one painting is better than another? This is the individual taste of the customer. There are few of those who can say, I shall produce wine just in this way and now way differently, because things change, and wine is subject to the trends. Once Italian Riesling was the only white variety that was ever mentioned, and today you have got the Istrian Malvazija, which from being an anonymous wine has become the number one white in Croatia. I am sure that in the future indigenous (traditional) varieties will be privileged, which has to be borne in mind when you’re enlarging the plantations.
The Zdjelarević family together with a Russian partner plans to expand the plantations, to about 50 ha. Their objective is to make constant innovations in technology and production. They devote particular attention to the development of wine and food tourism, and hope that other, nearby, wineries will recognise the importance that this kind of tourism might have on the sleepy Slavonian countryside. When Croatia enters the EU, much is going to change, the competition is big, hence wine lovers from the world over have to be attracted to visit our country and try out the wines in the place where they come into being. As a positive example of combination, they refer to the Istrian vintners and hope that the same or a similar concept might be recognised in Slavonia for without it, progress will be difficult.