Dusan Jelic got engaged in wine-networking, studied for Diploma in Wine at the Cape Wine Academy, and in August 2012 founded Wines of Balkans. This emerging website is a content hub of sublime Balk an wines and as Dusan says “the awesome people behind these wines.” Dusan is the wine-loving Social Media Manager at www.winesofbalkans.com who passionately & persistently explores wines produced in & around the Balkan Peninsula of the South-Eastern Europe. We asked him about the state of business in the Balkan wine industry.
The Balkans have a new political designation, a newly adopted geographical region, but the vines in this region aren’t so new. Is that why we’re seeing over 1000 wineries making recent arrivals in the Balkans?
Yes, that is a valid point. Number of commercially viable wineries in the region encompassing 12 South-eastern European countries crossed 2,000 recently! Add to this hundreds of small private wine-making entities and it becomes truly dramatic development! Wine culture is a part of the region since the Ancient Greeks, however wines were never branded as Balkan wines or something else. It is necessary now to do so in conjunction with the fantastic development of tourism and more recently wine tourism in the region!
Why do you believe a wine revolution is happening in the Balkans?
It is a happy marriage of technology, mobility and tradition. Many young oenologists travel throughout the world and learn their trade. They eagerly transfer new technology and know-how on the existing classic corpus of viticultural and wine-making knowledge. Results are exciting and the Balkans produces now hundreds of world-class wines.
With this surge of wineries, do you feel that they are prepared for visits and know what Wine Tourism is all about?
No, not yet. A huge majority of the wine producers only nowadays invests money into wine tourism. It is not even developed in the top Balkan tourist areas like Croatian and Turkish coastlines, however it changes rapidly. Education in wine tourism, interesting wine routes offering and a proper marketing are urgently required.
Will we find traditional French grapes around the Balkans or will local and regional grapes become the hallmark of each region?
Both can achieve world class levels: international as well as local indigenous varieties, depending on a micro-location, climate etc. I support, however, wholeheartedly production of wines made from local varieties, not available elsewhere as it is a major drawing card for tourists and visitors alike.
How would you compare Croatian wines to the rest of the Balkan wine from which we can choose?
Croatia has some of the best wines I have ever tasted. I believe Plavac Mali is the top Balkan red variety. Croatia could be rightfully selected as one of the few most sophisticated wine countries in the region.
Dusan Jelic will be presenting on Friday March 15th from 16:00 to 16:40 in the Paris Suite. His not to be missed talk is titled Branding Balkan Wines in the Context of the South Eastern European Wine Tourism.
See theIWINETC Programme of talks.