Wine cellar’s ID
If we go back long enough into the past of the Kutjevo region, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that there’s hardly a family that did not own at least a small vineyard. Nor is today, it seems, the picture very different, and it is not surprising that not so long ago in 2007 entrepreneur Josip Galić, at a certain turning point in his life and career, determined to go on with the family tradition of viticulture and winemaking. He recalls that as a boy he worked in his grandfather’s and father’s vineyards to earn his pocket money. From a dozen vines they produced wine for family and friends. Today, it’s a different story. After selling his firm and wondering what direction to take, the idea of wine came to mind. A director in his firm at the time suggested he do something for Slavonia, put some of the capital he had made into vineyards and leave a trace of himself. And so it started. Then love happened. The first wines, vintage of 2008, showed them they were on the right road, and if you can tell a day from the morning, there is no doubt that already one can sense a very interesting and successful story for grandchildren.
Vineyards and varieties
Buy buying old vineyards, planting new, and in a constant tussle with windmills in the search for new sites for future vineyards, they don’t waste time. They respect, he says, private land and buy it at realistic prices. Vetovo, Podgorje, Kaptol and Velika are the names of four micro-localities of the Kutjevo wine region at which they have altogether 25 hectares of vineyards, planted to the greatest extent with Italian Riesling or Graševina (80%). As for other varieties, there are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A certain amount of grapes are bought from local sub-contractors who cultivate their vineyards according to the Galić instructions. Because they have a lack of viticulture experience and yet want to grew their vines as well as they can, they engaged Edi Maletić, DSc, to help with advice and suggestions. The natural harmony of relief and climate and plenty of hard work and knowledge put in yield superlative grapes that are transformed into excellent wines.
Cellar, technology, wines
In a rented cellar in Lukać, a little village not far from Kutjevo, the vinification and ageing of all the wines take place. I love experimenting and in this cellar a lot of it goes on. We want to produce the best wines, get the best out of every variety. From the very beginning we engaged Vinolab headed by Slaven Jeličić as main oenologist. I respect the profession, but at the same time I know what I want and like to drink. And indeed, there is a lot experimenting going on in their cellar. From stainless steel, via barrels from various producers, to wines differing in styles. Although Italian Riesling is the main variety, fresh, late and ice wines go out onto the market, and the Sauvignon Blanc has proved a hit, specially the first one from 2008. Then there is the Chardonnay, while the Pinot Noir and Bordeaux coupage called Crno 9 / Black 9 is a proof that their future is written in red too. The first vintage gave about 50,000 and in 2010 already 90,000 bottles were let out onto the market. The technological plan for the future cellar is ready prepared, and as soon as things fit together, they are setting off on the building of modern new quarters in Radovanci, with a capacity of 330,000 bottles. Nine is lucky number for Mr Galić.
Andrej Markulin is Josip’s right hand, and together with the other employees takes care that ideas are put into practice and the work goes on without a hitch. Although a very successful entrepreneur and enthusiast who follows his own dream, it’s fascinating how he constantly speaks in first person plural and puts his team forward. Oenologist Ivona Đipalo, member of the Vinolab team, has been two years with them, perfecting her knowledge, and Martin and Anita are young oenologists who are learning so as to be able to manage the production single-handedly one day. During the harvest, there is extra labour to help. Josip himself is an exceptionally interesting person to talk to, one who speaks about life and wine with boyish enthusiasm.
I cannot say that I am an expert in the vineyard or the cellar nor would I dare to do the job by myself at this time, but in a sense I have the ability to recognise the people I want to help me in putting my ideas into practice. I want the Galić brand to be the best, want the Galić label to have the best products and the best wines behind it. Andrej, Vinolab and the other employees follow my idea and I am so glad. This is the reason why I decided on this exploit. I love my Slavonia too, and think that it is underrated in every respect. It hurts me that the natural capacities are not used, but I believe that we are contributing at least a little to a brighter future. I could sell my wines in all the bigger chains in Croatia, no problem, but I don’t want that, nor is it my aim. I might get hold of money easier and faster, but I just say no. I have the luck to have made capital in another business, and I am not in a hurry to get anywhere.
The list of ideas and plans for the future is quite long. The new cellar, new vineyards, new wines, some new Slavonia. But some new Croatia too. As a businessman with a long history he thinks that in this country everything is put the wrong way round. Professionals, he thinks, ought be to able to do the jobs they know, for which they have been trained. Because of the lucky nine, he wants in the near future to produce White 9 and Black 9. The wines in the Coupage 9 are indigenous varieties. Asked what Croatia’s place on the world’s wine map is, he answers: There’s always talk about the high prices of wine. Croatia has a lot of very fine wines, and fine wines are not cheap anywhere. I don’t think that price is an obstacle. We need the right people, good marketing, a lot of hard work. Seems to me that all good ideas, because of the involvement of politics, and personal interests, go off in the wrong direction. We’ve simply got to get together. All together in one balloon and blow hard in unison. I want to a lot, but I can’t pull Slavonia out of the slough by myself. And since a journey still starts with the first step, we wish Mr Galić and his team a fair wind, new ideas, new wines and some new lucky nines.