Croatian Winemaker Ante Milina: Who Doesn’t Take Risks, Risks Much More

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Ante is a member of the new Korčula wine wave which his older colleagues are proud of, worthy of the image of wine Korčula, promoting the fame of Pošip, Smokvica, Čara and the entire island

When, after many years of researching the vine and many tests, experts from the Split Adriatic Culture Institute, agronomist Marcel Jelaska and enologist Ljubo Rumora, paved the way for the protection of controlled origin of the Pošip sort, it began in 1967. It was then the 1965 Pošip was declared as the first superior, then called renowned, white wine in the former Yugoslavia. It’s been half a century since then and young Smokvica winemaker Ante Milina made an effort to do his part at the celebration of the sort jubilee which made his town, and all of Korčula island, the most prestigious Croatian wine destination. Ante will during 2017 market a limited edition of Pošip from amphorae.

“I like to say that I am in great wine fervour, so I managed in 2015 to prepare grapes of Pošip from the Njivica vineyard (southern position) for amphorae wine. As, with amphorae the flawless quality of grapes is of utmost importance. For me it was an enthusiasm and enormous challenge, it is an easy to prepare such a demanding sort as Pošip for this type of maceration. But, as the proverb says, if you want a rainbow you must wait for rain. With amphorae I want to offer to wine lovers the option to enjoy Pošip they never tasted before, a unique Pošip not available on the market yet. There were those who said it was an insane attempt, but if they were to try the Pošip which spent over 6 months in amphorae and is now aging in wooden 600 litre barrels they would admit they were wrong. It pays to be brave and take risks, as who doesn’t, risks a lot more. With amphorae Pošip I want to emphasise the characteristics and potential of the sort, as today not enough attention is given to it and this is why different sorts seem alike. Enough about amphorae for now. I hope we will soon toast with amphorae Pošip along with a good meat barbecue,” said Ante.

After Ante’s first “professional” grape harvest, in the not so distant 2011, where he gained 6.000 bottles of wine, he thought -that was it. Enough! He doesn’t need more! It will be more than an interesting family hobby. However, wine began to take over him, ideas kept coming… He says the trigger that took wine from a hobby to a serious business was “the great love for wine, will to work and business spirit.”

“I was to make a joke, I would say I fear where my limits are. It takes a deep breath just to list all the different versions of Pošip I produce or will soon be on the market. And all this, I repeat, in just five years! I like production branches, not just service ones which are increasingly present in Croatia. Such is the situation today and we can’t change that, as these problems are more complex.”

Along with the regular, “ordinary” Pošip, next spring he will market the Grandeca Pošip, which spent a year in wooden barrels and is now in bottles waiting for its premiere, and also the Trijera Plavac, with over two years in barrels, available to customers after almost three years in the cellar, which will prove Korčula is ideal for red wines.

“In this seriousness there is plenty of fervour as no great wine was ever made without it,” explains Ante the enthusiasm that made him triple production in several years.

Ante is a member of the new Korčula wine wave which his older colleagues are proud of, worthy of the image of wine Korčula, promoting the fame of Pošip, Smokvica, Čara and the entire island. It is interesting these young Korčula lions relentlessly support each other, even spend their free time together. Ante says they see each other daily, have coffee together, including evening outings. When attending the largest Croatian wine festival in Zagreb, it is a given they will party together afterwards.

“With Ljubo Kunjašić I attended primary school, with Igor Radovanović I spent a lot of time during our college years, Jakša Krajančić also has a bakery along witht he winery so that’s a common topic, and I discuss politics, sport and daily topics with Nikola Mirošević, Matej Jovanov, Bire Zure… We’re all friends and wine just brought us closer. The success of one is the success of all of us!”

Usually, when Ante invites someone to “toast with Pošip with a meat barbecue,” it’s not just an excuse to eat. A meat barbecue is just another step in getting to know Ante Milina, and prosciutto, his own, is the high end of his business empire which on Korčula includes four butcheries.

“Our primary family business is the meat industry which my ancestors have been in for over a 100 years. Along with that, we’ve always been in wine growing and winemaking which is quite big on Korčula. After completing the study of economics in Zagreb, I returned home and with family set out into more serious wine production. But whenever I have the time, I’m in the butcher shop and doing that job. My great grandfather was a butcher with a private butcher shop since 1901 in Korčula. I could talk about this for days. But to keep it short, business brought my grandfather to Smokvica where he married and opened his own butcher shop and practically began from scratch. My grandmother’s family had some land and sold wine so he adopted wine growing and winemaking. As the meat business progressed so expanded the vineyards and olive groves. There wasn’t much tourism then or trade like today so you had to have at home what you needed. Today the times have changed greatly, nothing is like before including the meat business, meat can be bought anywhere and anytime, not just on specific days of the week like before. Large investments are needed for the meat industry today, so we are the only ones in the county with a slaughter house and meat packing plant. We have four of our own shops and several others we supply. The islanders know well what quality fresh meat is so we are still ahead of competition and lower grade import.”

And prosciutto? Due to ripening time Ante is not able to produce the amounts needed, especially in the summer months…

For the original and more from Vinske Priče blog on wine, click here.


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