If you think you have tried all the good wines on Plešivica – you are grossly mistaken. A young woman from Zagreb, Lana Alujević, attracted the attention of connoisseurs and other wine lovers with her wines and her story in just two years.
Plešivica has long been synonymous for vineyards with a trillion liters view that produce grapes for making highest quality wines and sparkling wines. Another fact is that wine and women are (secretly) in love. So, the logical conclusion is that you will see the female company on terraces in front of wine cellars of Plešivica enjoying a great drink with a few bites of homemade food. But you surely don’t expect seeing a smiling woman winegrower on the steep slopes between the vines with a 15-liter tank on her back and a protective mask on her face as she performs the spring spraying of the vines.
Try to imagine the reaction of vineyard owners in late 2017 who responded to Lana’s ad for buying vineyards when they realized that they’re talking with a young woman who was determined to realize her idea which matured for a long time until that summer, visiting wineries on Pelješac, she made the final decision: I am going to buy a vineyard, cultivate it myself and produce wine!
It would not be so strange – because there are more and more young winemakers – but a graduate economist from Zagreb did not have any (pre) knowledge nor was there a family tradition of vine growing and wine production. The only thing she had was a great desire and will to learn.
Of course, not everything went smoothly: at the end of February Lana started working in a vineyard that needed to be renovated and arranged, although she agreed with the owner on the terms of purchase only in May when she walked into the bank and asked for a loan to buy 931 vines and a small cellar. And so, her wine adventure began. She was supported by her parents, sister and brother-in-law, as well as friends, one of whom she met only when she entered the vineyard: Krešimir Ivančić, owner of Griffin Winery whose cellar and vineyards are located not a mile away. She learned almost everything she knows today about the vineyard and vinification from him and she finished the first harvest in 2018 in his cellar because hers was not ready yet. Last year, with Dad’s help, technically she did everything herself!
Lana found three varieties in the vineyard: Green Silvanac, Chardonnay and Sauvignon. She first planned to replace Silvanac because she did not like the wines from this neglected variety she tried. At Krešo’s urging, she left it and today she is very happy because she produced a wine that, well chilled, is great for refreshment in the summer months, Green apples and citrus fruits on the nose, harmonious acids and minerality that is eventually overcome by fruit again will delight every lover of fresh wines. It goes well with light poultry dishes, but it also went well with a gourmet challenge: tripe!
The guests of the Zadar wine and dine bistro Pašta & svašta were able to see this recently, when Alujević Silvanac, vintage 2019 (Lana affectionately calls it “my little savage“) was served with a light brunch.
Along with Silvanac (which occupies half of the vineyards), Sauvignon and Chardonnay, varieties characteristic of Croatian Uplands wine region and especially Plešivica are equally represented in Lana’s vineyard.
Sauvignon (Lana calls it teenager) is also prepared to be enjoyed as a fresh wine, with a greenish-yellow gleam and pronounced notes of green fruits, peppers and mowed flower meadows. It has similar stylistics as Silvanac, is medium-bodied, of lower alcohol and tastefully balanced, varietal-characteristic fruit structure. Try it with sushi or goat cheese salad.
A chardonnay? Lana addresses it as Mr. Chardonnay and accordingly decided to leave it on its own leftover in a wooden barrel for two years. The wine was recently filtered and made ready to be bottled. Those who tried it say that it is one of the best Croatian chardonnays. Since the quantities are limited (less than 250 liters), only a small number of lucky people will enjoy the complex notes of ripe stone and tropical fruits, yellow wildflowers and not a bit strenuous vanilla. It has a lasting taste, very creamy and balanced acids, with an appropriate touch of oak barrel. With a glass of Chardonnay sur lie 2018 I see goose pate or a nice feta of tuna or shark, If I could only get it…
If you catch sight of the Phoenix label that adorns Alujević wines, don’t think too much. All in all, one wine story of which we expect a lot in the future.