Wine Cellar’s ID
The Požega basin has borne the name Valis Aurea, or golden valley, since Roman times, while the first official records of viniculture in Kutjevo derive from the coming of the Cistercians at the beginning of the thirteenth century. In the second half of the 20th century, in spite of all the tradition infused in the mass production of the Kutjevo cellars, some of the wines were better and of a higher quality than those of today. Vlado Krauthaker, from a Strigovo winemaking family, arrived in the mid-1970s on a scholarship in the cellars of Kutjevo. His decision to strike out on his own after the war evinced the ambitiousness of his character, and a vision different from the stereotypes and old-fashioned approaches of the winemaking of the time.
The southern foothills of Krndija and Papuk receive optimum insolation and are well protected from the harsh continental climate. The sandy and stony soil at the base of the hills, with frequent interpolations of clay and loamy plateaux at the peaks, with a below average mean precipitation of 500 – 800 mm p.a. require something above average in the way of expertise, but in return afford highly individual wines.
The winery has 24 hectares of its own vineyards and 42 more under contract, with an average age of 20 years. In Croatian terms, there is a record number of 35 varieties, Grasevina (Olasz or Italian Riesling) being absolutely dominant, at 65%, after which come Gray Pinot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Zelenac and red varieties Pinot noir, Cabernet and Syrah accounting for a share of 9%, Merlot being preponderant. Increasing attention devoted to the microlocations is likely to result in numerous new wines of the same varieties.
There are 9 to 10,000 vines per hectare, at an average distance from each other of 1.30 m (avoidance of machine cultivation). Traditional use of horses in the vineyard in winter ploughing and summer cultivation because of economic and ecological awareness. Pruning is done according to the capacities of the cellar, in line also with the philosophy of reduced yields, leaving about 45 to 55,000 buds, producing about one kilogram of grapes per vine, according to the cultivation technique. The practically de rigueur resort to green harvest 10 to 20 days after flowering avoids overloading the vine, a guarantee that even from a poor year the maximum quality can be obtained. Grassing the vineyard for the sake of preserving the humus and increasing the biological potential. For six years the vineyard has used a weather station, dedicated to viticulture, to avoid undesirable and frequently forced interventions.
Frequently expanded, but still not big enough, which means it is not possible to use very large wooden barrels. The use of a selection table, external modern presses and stainless steel collectors, after which, without the use of a pump, the unfiltered must is channelled by gravity into stainless steel barrels with controlled temperatures. The experimental use of French barriques, while for marketed wines, barriques made from the oak of the Krndija pubescent oak are exclusively used. The barrels are used 2 to 3 times, after which they are either sold or repaired. This year, the total production of high quality wines will be between 300,000 and 350,000 bottles, which puts Krauthaker among the biggest privately-owned Croatian wineries.
To attempt to use traditional methods to bring back some of the technologies in use 50 or 100 years ago. To begin production of the great wines, because of their shortfall on the Croatian market. To have absolute mastery of some of the varieties already found on the market by an experimental approach in the vineyard. Curiosity and the desire constantly to prove oneself.
recent awards and commendations
Chardonnay Mitrovac 2000 one of 33 gold medals (of the 1334 samples tasted) at the Chardonnay du Monde Competition.
Gold medal for the Chardonnay Rosenberg 2004, silver medals for Sauvignon 2005 and Grasevina 2006 in Bordeaux this year.
The German carrier Lufthansa has opted to serve Sauvignon 2004 only in the first class in its intercontinental flights.
Success of a lifetime
„I had my success of a lifetime when I accepted the scholarship and came to Kutjevo, for this is certainly an excellent area for winemaking, must be among the five best wine regions in Croatia, and of course we all compete with each other about who’s going to do the best.“