Croatian Vintage Pampering Australia With Superb Wines

Croatian Vintage Steve Jakic (L)John Gavljak (R) Photo: Croatian Vintage

The past several months have fallen hard on all of us living on the eastern shores of Australia. Covid-19 lockdowns have harshly affected businesses and people alike. It was about three months ago when I planned to write about and interview Sydney-based Croatian Vintage company, distributors in Australia of select wines from Croatia. They were to hold a wine-tasting event with Dalika delicious smallgoods “nibblies” at the Australian Croatian Club O’Connor on July 17, but Covid-19 began spreading once again, and the event was cancelled in compliance with government lockdown measures and moved to August 21. However, given the relentless growth of Covid-19 new infections and ongoing extensions of lockdowns the holding of this wonderful event also seems unlikely!

But our tastebuds and our need for good wines never go into lockdowns. And Croatian wines outside of Croatia are something many have chased into their shopping bags throughout the world for decades. Modern technology gives us the advantage of shopping online and Croatian Vintage in Australia is among those companies that pamper us with such an advantage. So, visit the website and experience the world of amazing Croatian wines.

Croatian Vintage company say this about themselves on their website: “Have you been to Croatia? Sensational. Let’s relive that feeling of when you were sitting on the beach on the Dalmatian coast or having dinner with friends while sipping a glass of wine, served with your favourite seafood dish or dessert… And if you haven’t been to Croatia, let us take you on an experience like no other…

Croatian Vintage is passionate about bringing fine wines from all regions of Croatia and the Mediterranean to your table.

Whether you are looking to purchase wine for your private collection, or would like to supply your restaurant, bar, or local bottle shop, we are proud to distribute these quality wines to your doorstep.”

Recently, John Gavljak, an important wheel behind Croatian Vintage in Australia just as Steve Jakic is, gave me answers to some question I had to ask. Here is that interview:

Croatian Vintage, we are talking about Croatian wines landing on the Australian wine market, which is vast and competitive. What is so special in such a market about Croatian wines? Can Croatian wines stand out in such a market quality wise?

Croatia has many indigenous grape varieties that deserve to be recognised and shared internationally.  Most of our wineries are smaller, specialised wineries focussing on local indigenous wines and are often family run and in the world of mass production this is our unique selling point.  We only import premium quality Croatian wines from the major wine regions of Croatia.  This ensures that our wines stack up in terms of quality in the Australian market.

Your wine distribution company Croatian Vintage has several wine labels from Croatia. What are they and what is so special about those wines? What made you choose those wine labels, given that Croatian wine production is such a large and rich industry?

Our aim was to create a wine journey through Croatia and we have focussed on wineries from all the major Croatian wine growing regions.  From Slavonia we source our wines from Feravino, Krauthaker and TRS wineries (Grasevina, Traminac and others) from Istria the Franc Arman winery (Malvazija & Teran) and from Dalmatia the Rizman and Skaramuca wineries (Posip, Plavac mali/Dingac & Tribidrag). We have recently added Korta Katarina wines to our selection as well as high quality spirits and liqueurs produced by Degenija from the beautiful, unspoiled mountainous region of Velebit, Lika, Croatia.

All these wineries are of repute and their range focus on indigenous Croatian grape varieties.  In addition, each of these wineries were excited to work with us and have their wines represented in Australia.  

Croatian Vintage Wines and Dalika Smallgoods Events

Have you a favourite Croatian red and Croatian white?

Personally, as a red I enjoy our Rizman Tribidrag, an indigenous varietal, the original Zinfandel, with some Tempranillio added – from Komarna, Southern Dalmatia. With a history dating back to the 15th century it is easy to drink and food friendly. From the whites I enjoy our Krauthaker Grasevina from Slavonia. A dry, fresh, aromatic white wine from the Godfather of the Croatian wine industry Vlado Krauthaker.

Why did you start the Croatian wine distribution business in Australia?

 During the first Covid19 lockdown we decided to take two of our passions – wine (drinking it!) and Croatia (loving it!) and launch Croatian Vintage.  It was all about sharing a wine journey through Croatia – so we started sourcing and importing quality wines and spirits from Croatia.

 In the vast selection of wines on the market and wine being a popular beverage in Australia what is one piece of advice you would give someone in choosing a good wine?

Be adventurous, look for those countries that have perfect wine growing conditions and aren’t as well known and then go on a journey – like Croatia.

TRS Winery Croatia Photo: Croatian Vintage

 There is a sentence on your company’s website which goes like this: “ …if you haven’t been to Croatia, let us take you on an experience like no other…”. How special are the Croatian wines your company distributes and are delivering on unique experiences mentioned in this phrase?

Absolutely. All our wines are premium wines, sourced from reputable wine makers with a love of their regions and their indigenous varietals. Many Australians have visited Croatia as a must-see tourist destination and now have the opportunity to revisit it through our wines or use our wines as an entrée into Croatia.  We take pride in the wines we source and want them to be a positive reflection of the Croatian wine industry.

The wine-tasting events you planned to hold at the Australian Croatian Club O’Connor in Canberra where Dalika delicious smallgoods and Croatian food were also be offered have all been  cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.  Are you planning to hold similar events bringing the Croatian wines closer to the communities across Australia in future?

Yes of course subject to Covid-19 restrictions.  We have held a number of private wine testing events where the feedback to our Croatian wines from non-Croatians has been fantastic. Our aim is not to only bring it to the Croatian communities in Australia but to the wider Australian community.  Our goal is for Australians to know Croatian premium wines and to reference them to other better known European wine countries (like Italy or Spain).

 How important is showcasing of wines within the communities and are you counting on people of different backgrounds will attend not just Croatians in Australia?

 Australians of Croatian descent are an important market segment.  We want to import and source Croatian wines that they are proud to share with their non-Croatian friends. The sustainability of our business model mandates that the appeal of our wines extend beyond the Croatian community in Australia. For example, our wines are already being showcased in a wine bar in the Sydney CBD – Vini Divini, where wine lovers are having the opportunity to indulge in our Croatian wines in addition to ordering them from our website  We are aiming to introduce the whole of Australia to high, quality Croatian wines – we want to be proud of the wines we source and import and want every person who tries them to be left with a positive image of Croatia.

 Interview by Ina Vukic

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