A young man full of dreams is returning to Serbia from France after finishing his business management studies. He has a business career ahead of him, a suitcase full of dreams and entrepreneurial plans. Gradually, he has started to build up business results and position on the Serbian market, but throughout this period, another business idea lingered on his mind. His stay in France left another trait: a profound appreciation of wine and gastronomy. Nebojša Aleksić, the owner of Temet winery, has decided to embark on a new adventure of establishing a winery and starting wine production in Serbia.
The quest for the right location to plant vineyards lasted for more than two years. Nebojša comes from the very south of Serbia, from the town of Vranje. During the socialist period in Yugoslavia, the city of Vranje and its surroundings lost part of their wine tradition because the population increasingly relocated from the countryside to the cities and found work in industrial factories. For that reason, Nebojša did not have the burden of relying exclusively on tradition when he decided to set up a winery. Instead of building a winery that will reflect traditional architectural styles with wooden and stone elements and distinctive arches, he decided to construct a winery that will become a pearl of contemporary architecture with simple, minimalistic outlines, located on top of a slope overlooking Šumadija and Pomoravlje, in the heart of central Serbia.
When picking the right location for the winery, Nebojša gave priority to pragmatism and science, rather than tradition. The quest for the right spot where he wanted to build a winery lasted for almost two years. It was important to him that the winery be well connected with Belgrade (the largest market in Serbia) by modern motorway, that the climate and soil be suitable for planting vines. For that reason, he consulted experts from the Faculty of Agriculture in Belgrade and the Institute in Verona in order carry out necessary analyzes of the soil before buying the plot of land and planting vineyards. When it comes to choice of varietals in the vineyards, he decided on a mix of autochthonous and international grape varieties, with the idea that the autochthonous grape varieties should represent the benchmark and identity of the winery. He deemed important to explore all possibilities of indigenous varieties and offer a full range of wines from indigenous varieties, both single-varietal wines and blends with international grape varieties.
The name of the village where the winery is located nowadays indicates local tradition of this entire region. The village of Lozovik derives the root of its name from the Serbian word “loza”, which stands for “vine” in Serbian language. Nebojša often points out that he considers himself a “modern traditionalist”. The tradition exists in the location itself and the terroir. The view from the terrace of the winery reveals the famous plot called Beli Kamen (White Stone), which features exquisite conditions for top vinegrowing and top wines.
Nebojša belongs to a group of winemakers who firmly believe in the most important Serbian autochthonous grape variety Prokupac. He believes that its potential still needs to be discovered to full extent, to pick adequate rootstock, the best clones, to plant it at the best vineyard plots, to select the most adequate vinification methods. Prokupac definitely has the qualities to become in Serbia what Sangiovese has become in Tuscany.
In recent years, Nebojša is increasingly turning grape production in his vineyards towards fully organic production. The organic story of Temet Winery has started in 2018, and it came primarily as a reflection of Nebojša’s personal attitude rather than a fashion or a market trend. He believes that we can secure future for our children only if we show respect to our environment and nature around us. For that reason, the same applies to vineyards which should produce healthy grapes in the coming decades as well.
While sipping a glass of wine on the terrace of the winery with the view of endless rows of vineyards and rolling hills of Lozovik and its surrounding, Nebojša’s face still reveals boyish enthusiasm and energy to move things forward. Winemaking is at the same time dreaming. In a way, it might be the last remaining human activity that defies globalization with its philosophy. In order to be successful in winemaking, you need to follow yourself and stay your own. You can have the best state-of-the-art equipment, the best professionals and consultants, but if you do not have a personal touch as a distinctive feature, you will remain just another one among numerous wineries on the global market. Nebojša is fully aware of that. His wines show character, so it must be the reason why the winery was called Temet. This name originates from the Latin word “temetum”, which means “a strong alcoholic drink with character”.
Text Tomislav Ivanović