In the following interview, find out more about Kozlović winery from the owner, mister Gianfranco Kozlović.
How did your winemaking story begin?
The story begins right here in 1904, in the Valle valley, with the first generation that produced wine from one hectare of land out of a thirty-five square metre house. Our first bottled and labelled wine came on the market in 1987 under the Kozlović family name and by 1998 our Malvasia from the 1987 harvest had been awarded the title of Croatia’s best white wine. Although Muscat was the variety with which our tale began, the real turning point came with Malvasia that – thanks to the efforts of a group of then young Istrian winemakers of which I was a part – saw a watershed shift in style marking a new period in winemaking in Istria. When assuming the management of the winery in 1998 I launched an expansion of the cellars and soon thereafter the lease and then purchase of vineyards. These were the Santa Lucia and Kontarini locations, among the best for growing Malvasia and where our best labels originate – single vineyard Santa Lucia Malvasia and Santa Lucia Noir, a red coupage. In 2012, we opened a new cellar and winery and our entire production moved to this three-level, 2,200 square metre facility.
The Kozlović winery is one of the most modern in Croatia. Tell us some more about the winery and what visitors can experience?
The new winery is located immediately adjacent to the vineyard. Thanks to the gravity feed the juice of the grapes is not subjected to pressure but rather flows naturally, after pressing, to the lower level through a specially installed system of pipes. Our guests, depending on the programme they select, can follow the journey of the grapes from the vineyard and selection table, the presses and maceration vats, to the stainless steel tanks and barrels of various sizes. We will show you our bottling, corking and labelling line and the wine storage area. The tour finishes at our wine bar with a view of the Valle valley and Momjan Castle where you can take part in a guided sampling, paired with foods sourced from small farms that meld wonderfully with our wines. Along with the wine tasting, we offer a guided sampling of extra virgin designated olive oil from our estate. Pleasant weather permitting, we will be delighted to stage the tasting on the terrace overlooking the vineyards, creating a complete experience for all the senses. We want to ensure our guests the best possible service and kindly ask that arrivals and programmes be reserved in advance by e-mail or phone.
What grape varieties do you produce wines from?
Our focus is on indigenous Istrian varieties – Malvasia (malvazija), Momjan Muscat (muškat momjanski) and Terrano (teran). We also have a few international varieties – Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. We use them in coupages along with our Istrian varieties so that the wines retain elements of the varietal character of the climate from which they originate.
What does a typical day look like for a winemaker?
Among modern winemakers there are no typical days. Today we do not count only the vineyard or the winery into this work, there being many other activities, peripheral to or quite removed from the wine itself that are associated with marketing and communication.
What would you consider you greatest achievement to be?
For me privately just being normal in this world is a success in itself. In the professional aspect I believe my success lies in the fact that, together with other Istrian winemakers, we were part of a wine revolution – I refer here to the past two decades and what we have achieved in this region and the fact that this achievement will survive us and be a legacy to all those who will continue this work.
What is your take on the Istria Wine and Walk event? What does taking part mean to you?
Istria Wine and Walk is an excellent project. It was properly conceived because winemakers and hospitality and catering providers have come together to popularise and show their respect for wine and the things that can be appreciated in the company of wine such as food and the landscape. For winemakers like myself this project helps us communicate our product as it offers people an opportunity to experience the vineyard and the wine together, to become part of one story, one shared experience that transcends mere consumption and grows into an experience to be remembered.
What are you plans for the future?
There is an expression – cautious optimism – that wonderfully captures the volatile essence of the future. That is why I would wish myself and others calm seas and good wines.