The vineyards owned by Krauthaker Winery are located on the sun-drenched southern slopes of Mt. Krndija in Slavonia, the continental part of Croatia. The dense forests of Mt. Krndija and Mt. Papuk protect the best vineyard positions from the sharp northern winds. The climate in this part of Croatia provides excellent conditions for ecological production, fully compliant with nature. Vlado Krauthaker carefully observes the works in the vineyard, which are still performed here traditionally, with the help of horses.
It looks like the horse knows every row in the vineyard by heart and doesn’t need a lot of guidance to move from one row to another. Meanwhile, Vlado Krauthaker is talking to his daughter Martina. She is in charge of operations in the wine cellar, while Vlado mostly takes care of the vineyards, about 40 hectares of his own vineyards and about 70 hectares of vineyards in cooperation. But, things looked different in the past …
As an ambitious student full of great dreams and hopes, Vlado came to Kutjevo thanks to a scholarship he received after his father’s death. He started his career in 1976 in the wine cooperative of Kutjevo. His closest relatives thought that he had made a wrong step on his career ladder, but subsequently it turned out that it was a decision that determined his whole life and tied him to Slavonia and Graševina forever. After 18 years of work in the wine cooperative, Vlado started his own winery and reached the peak of the Croatian and regional wine scene.
Vlado Krauthaker proudly points out that the vineyards owned by Krauthaker family are located on the famous 45th parallel, which at the same time travels through the world’s most famous wine regions such as Piedmont, the Rhône Valley, Oregon, Bordeaux. His wish is for Slavonia to get as close as possible to these regions.
Vlado Krauthaker is most often perceived by wine lovers as the king of Graševina grape variety. But he is in fact a true admirer of the grapevine and wine, a connoisseur with restless spirit. He doesn’t fit into any mold. This is evidenced by his decision to plant some 40 grape varieties in the vineyard, many of which are almost forgotten or quite unusual in this part of Europe. And if you ask him why so many varieties are represented in his vineyard, he will admit with a smile that it is partly out of curiosity, and partly out of scientific reasons in order to check how they behave and assess the potential of those varieties in Slavonia wine region. So, while such work is typically carried out by wine institutes in other wine countries, here Vlado Krauthaker carries out practical experiments in his vineyards.
Vlado Krauthaker has often been acting ahead of his time throughout his winemaking career. His entire stock of Graševina wine from the berry select harvest was once purchased by the Fat Duck restaurant, which at that time was ranked among the world’s best restaurants. He was also among the first in Croatia to start experimenting with amphorae. Upon his return from Georgia, he soon materialized his fascination with Georgian wines in the edition of wines named Kuvlakhe featuring long maceration, natural yeasts, no use of sulfur. Orange wines completely fit into his wine philosophy that “nothing should be done in a hurry, because when grapes are picked quickly and ripen quickly, then they lose their soul, become empty and without that special emotion by which wine is kept in memory. “.
For that reason, Vlado is never in a hurry when working in the vineyards. He enjoys working with the grapevine, while following its behavior from year to year in the increasingly challenging period of global climate changes. Each year in the vineyard is a special story. From time to time, his telephone rings, and he looks at the screen of his mobile phone in anticipation of his daughter Martina to tell him the latest news from the wine cellar.
Text Tomislav Ivanović