We don’t have to control each other in the family. The story is good for living, says the winemaker

We don’t have to control each other in the family. The story is good for living, says the winemaker
We don’t have to control each other in the family. The story is good for living, says the winemaker

They produce thousands of bottles here every year, in recent years they planted a new vineyard, structurally improved the cellar and gave the winery a completely new brand. Son Martin is responsible for the modernization. “My parents started something, but I’m closer to modern technologies,” he explains.

The Union of Winemakers recently published the results of a survey, according to which the sector is most affected by non-uniform European subsidies. Their result is a market flooded with low-quality wine at a price that domestic producers are unable to compete with. Do you agree that this is the biggest problem?
I still remember from school that we produce around 44 million and import 132 million liters of wine domestically. This means that only one quarter of the consumption is covered by us. In general, I don’t agree with subsidies, it’s better if everyone can take care of themselves. If we do the math, we need roughly two kilograms of grapes to produce a liter of wine, and the purchase price per kilo is about twenty crowns, so we are at forty crowns just for the raw material, and we have only just pressed it… So if there is a bottle of imported subsidized wine in the supermarket for sixty crowns, it’s a problem for us.

And on top of that there may be the introduction of excise tax on wine…
That is another topic. It is illusory to think that it can be paid in full by a customer who now has completely different concerns than buying our Moravian wines which are about twenty crowns more expensive.

If it is not possible to compete with the mentioned prices, is more emphasis placed on the story of a particular winemaker, to whom one comes and perhaps even stays with him?
As I said, producing grapes today without making wine is economic suicide unless there are subsidies for winegrowers. So it makes sense to grow grapes, make wine from them and realize added value. And that’s the story. A small family winery like ours has to handle the whole process, including ensuring sales, by itself. When it has added value, it is good for a living, but at the same time it is a year-round job where the winemaker and the vintner practically do not stop in one person. Many winemakers also have their own guest house so that people who come for the tasting can stay overnight. But then again, they usually take care of it themselves within the family, including refreshments. At the same time, guests also go to local restaurants and shops, so the surrounding area also benefits. It’s the whole chain.

How is your business in Dolní Dunajovice actually? It is a traditional wine village, but isn’t there more competition?
It seems to me that we are not completely competing, each winery has its regular customers. And if we go back to the fact that domestic wines cover only one quarter of our consumption, if a customer wants to drink Moravian wine that is of reasonable quality, the winemaker can simply go to the market. We’re just back to whether we can be price competitive.

I was impressed that as a small family winery you are determined to stay small. I would think that you would be happy for a larger volume of production and sales.
There is a defined limit to how to stay small. It is generally said that the price-performance ratio is reasonable when a winery makes roughly 30,000 liters of wine, up to 40,000 in bottles, and we are nowhere near there. The family can produce this amount. If you want to continue to grow, we are already talking about employees and you lose flexibility. When, for example, covid comes and sales drop, you no longer have responsibility not only for your family, but also for your employees. And most importantly, there is no need to control anyone this way. Everyone has a role with us, we trust each other and know that everyone fulfills it as best as possible. My parents and I are in charge of the winery, my sister is in charge of the boarding house.

That sounds idyllic…
Yes, it sounds idyllic. (Laughs) Of course there are contradictions, we talk about what to do and what not to do, but in the end we always come to an agreement somehow.

You have helped your parents since childhood, then you went into the world of IT to study viticulture and winemaking in the evenings in your forties. Why, when you already had experience?
To master the profession. It’s a practical matter, but if you want to move somewhere and improve, it’s better if you see behind the curtain. I still have my profession in IT and winemaking is a great hobby. So big that it made my life difficult for five years. (Laughs)

You are responsible for the transformation that winemaking is going through. What does it involve?
We are again talking about added value. To make the bottle look something, there was a nice label so that the winery could be seen. Dad has been building a customer base for x years, but if we want to expand online, we have to do this too.

As for wines, you offer typical Dunajovice Vlašák or Pálava. But you also have red wines and, as one of the few, also Neronet, what is it about?
Neronet was bred by Vilém Kraus (well-known expert dedicated to viticultural research and breeding of new varieties – editor’s note). It is a cabernet-type variety, similar to southern wines. It is a dye, which means that the dye is already in the pulp, so it has a dark, rich color.

Thanks to the gradual warming, can you already compete with, for example, France in red wines?
It depends on how the vintner has a reasonable yield. It can be said that late harvests and grape selections are slowly becoming the rule for blue varieties when they are grown sensibly. Of course, with these wines, aging in a barrel and in a bottle is needed, so that the tannins work well. And then the wines are really nice to drink.

The article is in Czech

Tags: dont control family story good living winemaker


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