Wine cellar’s ID
Wine – how, why and for what? The island, as a place for living in, doesn’t offer too many choices, says Korčula-born Luka Krajančić. The island and I chose each other, but the island offers little enough for you to be an islander. If someone wants to make his name and show he’s someone, be known as someone just for himself, not because of others, he has to choose the way to set out on. Wine is my way, that in a sense my genesis determined. My people were also into vineyards and wine. And I have always been close to it. Another reason is that wine took hold of me in some weird and inexplicable way. In 1993, Luka went back to his roots and a tradition of more than 500 years. There’s no doubt that Luka and wine recognised each other. Just as many people have recognised his Pošip, and it’s not surprising that it has become of the very favourites, the most sought after.
Vineyards and varieties
Of the three and a half occupied today, 2.7 hectares are inherited; the rest was bought later on. His friends work and cultivate another 1.5 ha. It’s important, he says, to keep up friendly relations with people you work with, because he believes that terrific grapes don’t necessarily mean first class wine. What is crucial is the positive energy that links us. Pošip is the only variety in the vineyard, and the chief viticulturist is his mother, Marija. She does her job with a great deal of love, for she’s been in the vineyard since she was a little girl. She brought it with her as a dowry when she got married to my father. Today they say that Korčula the island is for whites, and neighbouring Pelješac, the peninsula, for reds. It is interesting that Luka reveals to us that once Korčula was the island of red wine, of Plavac Mali. Before the onset of phylloxera, most of the island was planted with Plavac; today it’s to be found in only small traces.
Cellar, technology, wines
The little cellar that makes up part of the family house is nevertheless modernly equipped. His wines are produced in controlled conditions. I always wanted to make something different, I always will. There’s a kind of negative traditionalism among us here. Every move away from that is not easy acceptable. Ježina is a basic Pošip that comes in screw-cap bottles. I wanted to show that Pošip is still Pošip even if it doesn’t have a cork. This idea was a long time gestating, and then in 2007 I had a certain amount of wine that was really stubborn. It took us a long time to be friends, and when we were, I told myself that when it had taken so long, it would have a screw cap. I first started doing Pošip sur lie, but in big barrels of 750 litres. The annual production of wine is 40,000 bottles, most of which are accounted for by Intrada. As every wine has the character of the winemaker, I wanted to see what kind of relationship Plavac Mali and I would have. I bought some grapes and tried it out. And I liked it. I’m still exploring and experimenting with what manner of vinification is the best. I make it for myself and my friends.
Luka and wine? Like everything else in life, it’s love that guides me and keeps me. I don’t want to sound over the top, but love is the most important generator of everything, and that is how it is with me and wine. The positive, traditionalist side, that makes Korčula just exactly what it is, is an integral part of me. I haven’t changed. I am like those islanders of five hundred years ago. Love for the land is alive. Ultimately, the major part of the story comes down to wine bringing people together. If you produce something that’s a link among a lot of people together, and something through which people can feel your creativity, your spirit, what you belong to, I think that’s worthy of attention. To me, it is. I revel in it. And I’m alive.
Luka creates and produces the wines. Mother Marija’s the boss of the vineyard. There are two more workers employed. The family house is in the Korčula hamlet of Zavalatica, and there’s the cellar and the contemporarily arranged tasting room. In the season, visitors come to sip his wines every day, and his friends also know Luka the chef. The meals he prepares from fresh provisions and seafood deserve respect, and I wonder what would have happened if he had chosen cooking instead of winemaking as his path in life. Or literature, because at the end of every friendly gathering, Luka’s songs too are tried out. Tradition, sea, the grapevine, wine and love in verse.
I feel I am at a certain turning point. I am not sure if I need to go on and expand, or take a step backward, and produce still smaller quantities, from the same area, and reduce the market, which would bring me the same. I don’t like talking of plans for the future, because they depend on a lot of facts, and most of all on the people who are creating this country and who are not at all competent to do so. Those who ought to recognise the potential in what I and follow winemakers are doing, and who can’t see it at all. And then, because of their incomprehension, they make the wrong moves, and actually frustrate any big plans. I am interested in what will happen when Croatia gets into the EU, and I think about it, but I don’t let it worry me. I don’t feel the EU is some bogey that we have to be afraid of. It’s a framework, for me, in which I shall try to do my job. I’m staying on Korčula. I am sure of that. That’s my plan for the future. The rest will come.