Wine Cellar’s ID
The tradition of viticulture and wine-making on the Pelješac Peninsula is hundreds of years old. And it did not pass the family of Frano Miloš by, as shown by the 700-year-old house in which Frano was born always having had a place for making and keeping wine. There have been rises and falls, and Frano in a joke says that it actually isn’t known who started growing vines and making wine, or when or where. Tradition for him is something that is revived with new values, something that is created and enhanced. Thus twenty years ago, as soon as the chance showed up, he boldly set forth on the path of wine and never regretted it. Today, his Stagnum is an indispensable feature on many wine lists.
Vineyards and varieties
Plavac Mali, synonym for the wines of Pelješac, is grown on 10 impressive hectares of vineyard, on the Ponikve block. Seven of these hectares are actually fruiting, and the remainder are still young vines. The southern-facing sun-bathed slopes, the sandy and very porous soil, give this micro area a special value. The area has to be experienced, and mastered, and the energy of the human arm is irreplaceable. A lot of love has been put into the vineyards, as well as a lot of filigree hand-work. Plavac is a variety that needs abundant sun and warmth, and it’s grown without supports, so the vines look like sturdy little trees that in the summer period create their own shade, looking after the moisture so needed for the life of the vine. There is no need specially to work the soil, because it is friable and permeable, and the Milošes pay a lot of attention to the chickweed. It’s a kind of grass that prevents the development of other much more aggressive grassy weeds. They propagate it for years, and thus forestall the development of the others; when in summer it dries out, it creates a kind of mulch that once again stops the soil from desiccating. And because of the steep slopes, it has a great role to play in the prevention of soil erosion during the rains. There is little need for any other kind of protection.
Cellar, technology, wines
In the little cellar that’s part of the family house, everything is in accordance with the tradition. Classic technique means just natural, indigenous yeasts, and the natural sequence of events in production that they don’t intend to depart from. They want to have their wine recognised as ecologically acceptable. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats, and because of the climatic conditions, they know in advance what kind of a harvest they are going to have. Experience has taught that the yeasts work best in moderate years, without big rains or high temperatures. The wines age only in Slavonian oak barrels. They are of various ages and volumes, from 500 to 2000 litres. The annual production of Plavac depends on the individual vintage, while the pride of the cellar is the Plavac selection called Stagnum – the old name for Ston. Every year has its own special features, that the consumers have started noting. In particularly good wine they produce Plavac of outstanding predikat quality.
The estate has nine employees, and during vintage there are seasonal workers. The family is the backbone of it all, and most of the business is done by Frano himself. His wife and three children tread faithfully in his footsteps. Daughter Franica is charged with looking after unexpected arrivals and expected guests, introducing them to the mystique of the cellar and offering them wine to taste. Ivan, a son, is a student of the Agriculture Faculty , for as our host says, the world is left to the young.
For someone to be able to do his work well and get good results, they have to love what they do. And that’s how it is in grape growing and wine making. You have to get to love the job when you’re young, at the height of your strength, with the most creative energy. Wine is a product that needs a lot of energy and self-discipline, and when it seems you’ve done everything, you have to work more and more, and put in additional energy. To produce good wine, you have to have the knowledge and the resoluteness, you have to have an ear for your intuition, and trust your experience. It’s crucial to make the right move at the right time. When you have got the hang of this, things get a lot easier. I am not a gambler, I believe in work and experience. I want my wines to leave a big impression on people, I put a lot of emotion into what I do.
Frano Miloš dreams big dreams, but he is well-aware that we live in a small and sharply-defined country that is both difficult and hard. Work produces results only slowly, a lot of work and energy being required. It’s thus necessary to be patient, to work and to create. He looks at the future optimistically, and thinks there are lots of opportunities, more than ever before, to do big things. While preparing the land for his vineyards, he had to dig out a lot of medicinal herbs, and had the idea that the grapes ought to be surrounded by immortelle, heather and other grasses, thus paying something back to nature.