From Hvar to Napa and Silicon Valleys: Story of the Konoba Told in California

Total Croatia News

Miki talking

Miki Bratanić, author, poet, and volunteer cultural ambassador, took his story about the humble Dalmatian konoba from the small village of Vrbanj on Hvar, all the way to the Napa and Silicon Valleys of California.


San Francisco, California; October 23, 2016

Miki Bratanić, Croatian writer and poet, presented his “Story of the Konoba” project to the Californian audiences at Grgich winery in Napa Valley, Bistro SF Grill in San Francisco and the Croatian Cultural Center in San Francisco. His family konoba (wine cellar) is listed as “Protected cultural heritage of Republic of Croatia” and keeps the spirit of wine making history and way of living of Dalmatian, Croatian and Mediterranean people. He met and spoke with his idol Miljenko Mike Grgich, attended a stomping grapes festival and celebrated with wine club members at a dinner at Grgich Hills Estate in this 40th anniversary of “Judgment from Paris”. Finally he was a part of Croatian heritage festival at Croatian American Cultural Center at San Francisco. 

Miki talking

What is a “KONOBA” and why is it important?
Konoba is the Croatian/Dalmatian word for wine cellar but it is much more than a wine making and storing place. It is the meeting point and social interface between neighbours, friends and relatives. Instead of Facebook, the konoba was the place to meet friends, share stories, likes and dislikes, and of course a little food and wine. The Bratanić family konoba in the village of Vrbanj on Hvar, finaly became listed as a Croatian cultural heritage site. The perfectly preserved, and still in daily use, konoba acts as a time capsule helping people understad how life used to be, and how it how it is in these times, and hopefully in the future too.
The konoba is the birth place of many of our traditions. Dalmatian klapa (acapella singing, on the UNESCO world heritage list), was established by people who worked hard in the fields and vineyards and after a long day used to sing simple old „blues like“ songs with a glass of vine, a few olives and salted sardines in olive oil. Vine, cheess, ham, salted sardines, olive oil, all this brands were born in the konoba too. The foundations of the Mediterranean diet which is itself listed on the UNESCO  world heritage list. 


After presenting his story of the Konoba on the east coast earlier in the year, Miki Bratanić came to the west coast to present his unique story in the land of wine; California. The very first visit was to the Grgich Estate Winery, where he met the Grgich family, along with members of their wine club, and Miljenko Mike Grgich who came from the same Croatian wine region as Bratanić; Dalmatia.

“Mr Miljenko is from the Pelješac peninsula, and I was born on the island opposite; Hvar, just a few nautical miles away. Our vineyards have very similar grape varieties; mostly Plavac Mali, related to Zinfandel in the USA. I’m so excited to be here and have the opportunity to speak with such an extraordinary person who has had a lot of influence on me. It’s very special to be here during the 40th celebrating year of the Judgment of Paris, enjoying a glass of Chardonnay at this lovely estate.” said Bratanić, whose full time job is as IT manager, but with strong passion for preserving cultural heritages and tradition. He added:  “I worked for more than two decades in one of largest IT corporations, but at the same time I have my family konoba with many wine stories and emotions, so this trip to California I call: BETWEEN TWO VALLEYS – Napa and Silicon, which represents my life between two passions.”

Miki has published two books about the Konoba, plus several volumes of poetry, some in Croatian and some in the Hvar dialect, and a number of albums of traditional songs from his native island.

Miki books


Of course, no visit to a Croatian heritage event is complete without music and song. Check out Miki playing the accordion with the Sinovi ansamble.

To visit the Miki Bratanić web page CLICK HERE



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