Croatian Winemakers: The Elegance of Moreno Degrassi

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Proof that Moreno Degrassi invests a lot of love, effort and dedication to his work are numerous domestic and international awards and recognitions

When talking of renowned Istrian winemakers, connoisseurs of this scene often joke among them are “doctors of wine,” technically precise, engineer minds, urban winemakers, charismatics, alchemists, but when talking of Moreno Degrassi all will admit and without any modesty say he is a true winemaker, a giant and founder of the entire Istrian wine scene, a man who truly lives wine.

Moreno’s wine beginnings are tied to the famous restaurant Mario in Bašanija in existence since 1906, where Moreno began producing wine for the restaurant as he simply couldn’t find good enough wine, to his liking. He bought grapes from the best positions, explored and tested everything until he was satisfied. It was the beginning of his life mission to produce a prefect wine. In 1996 he began serious production and sale of wine. Supported by his family, Moreno begins a serious business and rents vineyards of a local cooperative, marketing the following year his first bottles of superior wine, mainly Malvasia, Refošk, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Muscat Blanc.

When winemakers speak of wine, they often point out it all begins in the vineyard, as that’s the place to have vision. No room for mistakes, although, Degrassi says, sometimes mistakes can end well. The winery logo is a ruby symbol which represents the purity of the spirit to which man can only come closer to, but never be reached, just like Moreno is always trying to reach that perfect taste in wine. Recognisable winery colours are in a bar that represents an emblem of sorts. The red represents passion and love, the black – strength and loyalty and the white his highest credo: purity and elegance. Degrassi vineyards are marked with a true relationship with vines, nourished not only by hand but with heart too, so it is not surprising great wine critics are very inspired when writing of Moreno and his wines. And he says:

“I love everything that is connected to wine, it is my lifestyle, my calling and joy. I am a lover of fresh white and aged red wines. I am especially happy when people drink my wine, taste it, discuss it. Happiness is immeasurable when the wine turns out just like I imagined it. There are many elements one can play with, but also factors which cannot be influenced. A winemaker must firstly be a devoted worker, with a precise sense of recognising what is going on with the wine… In winemaking there is a constant passion and tendency towards a better vineyard and wine, and on the other hand a desire for the personal belief embodied in wine to – find its way to the buyer.”

Moreno’s wines are in line with modern wine trends. He was among the first in Istria to have the most advanced technology which enabled him to turn his ideas into reality, and among the first to age wine in small oak barrels. He introduced elegance to Istrian wines, deciding not to produce wine primarily recognisable as full bodies and strong, but made them in several levels, deep tones, freshness, moderate alcohols. Moreno is a true authentic experimenter, the “Istrian king of coupage,” whose wines faithfully paint the character of the author and climate. Modest Moreno never liked to stand out, but it is certain many learned a lot from him, roaming around his cellar. Even his regular red wines are usually aged two and a half years, reserves even longer, while constantly reducing yield. In short – he makes wines he would like to drink himself, wines he likes and is always faithfully following his direction.

“We should be aware of the fortune we have in Istria, as we have truly excellent wines. We began with Malvasias which are very valued today, while together with other winemakers I revitalised the Terrano and Refošk varieties, which were ten years ago considered “regular” everyday wines,” says Moreno who from the start gave special importance to positions, so they are present on labels named after them. In label design there is always an element of Degrassi wine elegance. Vineyards are mostly on hills around Buje town, on the so-called Bujština, known as a region with famous vineyards of Istria.

They are specific as most are on white lands, known as Terre Bianche, in four different positions: Bomarchese, Contarini, Ferne’ and San Pellegrin. Bomarchese is a position with Malvasia of superior quality. Along with classic Malvasia, offered are also special editions Malvasia Selection and Malvasia Riserva.
The Contarini position grows first class French red varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir Syrah and white varieties: Sauvignon and Viognier. Ferne’ position has Chardonnay, also one of the best known Degrassi wines. San Pellegrin is a vineyard position with Muscat Blanc, a nearly indigenous variety of dessert wine highly valued abroad.

On the red soil Degrassi grows Terrano Terre Rosse and Refošk Terre Rosse. Both soils with quite rich with minerals which is reflected in wines. Grace to specific Degrassi style and terroir, wines are aromatic, pure, with a strong accent on minerality, fresh, full and intense with a long taste, exciting and elegant wines.
Today, with 16 varieties and over 30 labels the Degrassi winery offers a broad fan of different wine tastes. Degrassi’s special editions: selection and reserve – are marked with a large central diamond. Proof that Moreno Degrassi invests a lot of love, effort and dedication to his work are numerous domestic and international awards and recognitions. Bravo for all in the Degrassi family, primarily Moreno and his hardworking and faithful wife Alison.


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