Croatian Winemakers: Ivan Bezek in Janjina on Pelješac

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Photo: Silvija Munda

The Bezeks are wonderful people who make excellent wines and, when on Pelješac, definitely stop in Janjina for a glass of wine and a bite

When speaking of Pelješac as a wine empire, then the first in min are Dingač and Postup. Those who are more in the know, already know more attention is due for Potomje and Ponikve, all great wine locations. However, when starting from Ston towards inner Pelješac, the road takes us through a small town Janjina. This will soon become a place where wine connoisseurs will make a mandatory stop.

Here we discovered a young and small, but fantastic winery Bezek. As with most wineries on Pelješac, the Bezek family has been in vines forever; this is simply something in the blood of the locals. They used to sell grapes more, and wine was made for themselves and a bit for sale. As we came closer to modern times, thus wine became a more important factor in their lives. Ivan’s father had already set good foundations for the future winery, but the new era of the Bezek winery began with Ivan.

Ivan Bezek is a schooled oenologist, which is very important as he knew from his early days what he wants in life. He did not choose the easiest path, but for now he is doing very well. What is more important, Ivan is a young and ambitious man with a large knowledge, slightly reserved, takes him a lot of time to open up and start speaking of his ideas and desires. Then you begin to understand his playfulness and desire to explore in terms of wine.


Ivan’s feet are firmly on the ground. Maybe a bit too firmly. Maybe he could allow himself a bit more of that positive arrogance, in view of his work. Bezek Wines are yet to see any competitions, along road is still ahead, but I am certain they will reach far and high.

When you visit a lot of winemakers and speak to them, you learn to recognise one who will create great wines and a great brand. As my friend professor Dropuljić would say – you are either a wine man or not; that becomes evident soon, and Ivan is definitely a wine man.

As we spoke of wine and his life, we tasted Bezek wines.

First came the Rukatac. Certainly one of the best white wines of Dalmatia. Wonderfully arranged, fine, drinkable, not overly strong in alcohol. Wonderful citrus notes on the nose and in taste, but what is fantastic, the wine has a wonderful acidity, something lacking in most Dalmatian white wines. The wine is wonderfully fresh, and yet with a full body. One can sense Dalmatia in it, and its freshness takes you to a land of pleasure. Definitely one of the best wines we’ve had this year. This, of course, is the bottled Rukatac.

Ivan has a Rukatac as a table wine and many local caterers will offer it as the house wine. It is not up there with the bottled one, but very, very close.

Their offer also includes a Plavac rose and of course, a Plavac.

The rose is quite good, by the book, for my taste maybe too intensive in colour, but these are details.

The Plavac… Yes, this is a special story. You see, this is not Dingač, nor Ponikve. This is Janjina. The vines here need more care, but if you know what you’re doing, the results can be especially good. His Plavac is very powerful, with a full taste, the variety is evident right off. But soon comes the difference; there is no high concentration of tannin, the wine is full and mighty, but finely polished, lightly caressing the palate. Ivan plays around with wood a lot. He uses some barrique, but more large barrels and that can be felt i the wine. You can feel the fullness of the wine and its strength, but at the same time it is mild and drinkable. Plavac just the way I like it.

But to disclose the biggest reason for visiting the Bezek family. It is the sparkling wine, especially good as I’ve learned so far. Unfortunately, I did not try it; it was sold out. In fact, there was only one bottle left and with a bit of persuasion Ivan would have opened it, but that would have been rude from me, so we will return for the sparkling when the next one is ready. I believe it is great, as the wine he makes it from is excellent, and there are some additional secrets around it. There is an idea I’ve been pushing on Dalmatian winemakers for some time, but Ivan arrived to it on his own and in this detail we completely agree. But, I will not speak of it; more on that when we taste the sparkling. I have a hunch we will have to write about that.


Ivan Bezek (middle) with his sister Antonia and her husband.

In the tasting room right next to the cellar you can have prosciutto, cheese and excellent salted anchovies and sardines. Ivan’s sister Antonia Perković will usually meet you there. Lacking work on Pelješac she left for Zagreb, where she got married. However, life often writes strange stories, so she and her husband returned to Pelješac, again for existential reasons. Which is probably good, as winemaking is a family story.

The Bezek’s figured out that wine tourism is very profitable. A large portion of their production is sold through the tasting room which has become too small. On the first floor of the same house they are building a tasting room which can accommodate a bus full of people. It will be a lovely, functional tasting room with a wonderful terrace.

Step by step and this will, soon, become a very serious family winery. What they need now is a bit of marketing; they need people to spread the news on the quality of their wine, and the quality is not in question. They need to visit a few festivals, presents themselves, everything else they have… And remain as they are, humble, and not compromise in terms of quality. But as far as I’ve met them, there won’t be any problems there. The Bezeks are wonderful people who make excellent wines and, when on Pelješac, definitely stop in Janjina for a glass of wine and a bite, and when you do, you will stay longer, believe me. The Rukatac is simply unbelievable!

Translated from the G.E.T. Report.


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