What Slovenian wines miss is effective marketing and promotion, but that’s the same with all ex socialist wine countries. “There are to many unfruitful birocrates who fight against efficient marketing projects and all avant-garde ideas, because they believe that will endanger their useful roles,” stresses Saša Špiranec, wine expert from Croatia, who is judging for the first time in Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA). He initiated the Vinart Grand Tasting, a leading business wine fair in Zagreb, Croatia, that is opening its doors this week. From 6th-7th March 120 winemakers and over 2.000 around the world guests are coming together to share their common passion – wine.
Few days ago, you have become a judge at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA). Congratulations! Could you explain your role and why is it important on national level?
Thanks, I’ll be a regular panel judge on next edition of 2020 DWWA, but I still don’t know for which region. I’m happy they invited me and looking forward to join their judging team. For every wine producing country is important to have a representative specialized for the region, who understand terroir background of wines and who can contribute to better quality and authenticity recognition.
Who can become a judge? Does every country have its representative?
Judges are experienced wine professionals with different background and deep specialists knowledge on one or more particular wine regions of the world. Should be experienced and proofed tasters, too. Every country does not have a representative but a majority of wine producing country has. The goal is to have regional panels packed with experienced tasters with knowledge on the region they judge.
This week, March 6 and 7, you are organising 5th Grand Vinart Tasting, a leading business wine fair in Croatia. What is the main goal, message?
Vinart Grand Tasting is an invitation only fair where we as organizers select best quality from the market at the the moment. It’s happening in the period of the year when F&B managers, sommeliers and restaurant owners look for new wines to put on their wine lists and in the period when winemakers can show their new vintages of white and rose wines for the first time. Our goal is to manage their meetings under one roof and to enable conditions for serious business talks.
Who are important guests at Grand VINART Tasting?
We personally invite leading restaurants, hotels and wine traders and grant them business accreditations, on the other side we take care to gather wines with best money-quality ratio and some of most exclusive wines on the market. We also bring leading wine writers and journalists from all over the world. From countries as USA, UK, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Slovenia, Austria, Serbia, Hungary, etc.
The Grand VINART Tasting has an amazing number for winemakers presenting – over 120. Among them there are also 6 Slovenians, namely Erzetič, Jakončič, Štekar, Verus, Vinakoper, and TILIA Estate. What do they have in common?
Number of winemaking exhibitors is limited to number of 120 because we don’t want to have to many exhibitors. Interest to exhibit is way larger, and at the moment there is a double bigger demand to exhibit than we allow, but we want to preserve surroundings strictly professional and to manage smart visitor-exhibitor ratio. We want to have our exhibitors happy and that majority of them make some sales and promotion. If you pack a fair with too many exhibitors you can’t expect that all of them will have fair portion of stand visits. We are very happy that we have Slovenian exhibitors too as Slovenian wines play important role on Croatian wine market, especially in the restaurants, our main target.
What is Slovenian wine scene like? Any lessons, we should take?
Slovenian wine scene is developed and dynamic. Most important part for wine industry of any region is gastronomy based on fine restaurants who want and who know how to present fine local wines and transfer its story to customers. Slovenia has it on particularly high-level which is allowing winemakers to develop their wines from basic to fine wine level. The number of wineries with outstanding quality from Slovenia is impressive and I believe that international markets recognize it and that Slovenian wine export is about to rise on global level. What Slovenian wines miss is effective marketing and promotion, but that’s the same with all ex socialist wine countries. All of us are witnessing successful Austrian or New Zealand effective and successful wine marketing organizations but sill our countries and wine unions for some reason are not capable to do the same. There are to many unfruitful birocrates who fight against efficient marketing projects and all avant-garde ideas, because they believe that will endanger their useful roles.
What kind of business is wine business?
I’m in the wine business since 1995 when I opened first wine shop for a company I worked for. Since 2006 I started to write about wines for different magazines as Jutarnji list, Playboy Croatia, Dobra Hrana, Globus and many others. I published several books and guides too and at 2008 together with my friends I started with my own business and founded two companies, Vinart and Vinolab. First one is marketing and publishing company, another one is wine laboratory. Since 2006 every day in my life is filled with wine. There is no single working day since then when I don’t taste wine or write about it and I love it a lot. Sometimes it’s not so sexy as it sounds, because there’s a business to run with lots of responsibilities and I have to care about incomes, expenses and pay cheques, but still I wouldn’t change it.
Saša Špiranec, wine expert: “Since 2006 every day in my life is filled with wine. There is no single working day since then when I don’t taste wine or write about it and I love it a lot.”
Who is Saša Špiranec?
• He is founder of Vinart, a publishing, wine marketing and event organizing company.
• wine writer and author has written three wine books: “A Guide to the Wines of Croatia”, “Wine Roads” and “Wines of Croatia” and is co-author of “Croatian Gourmet Icons” and “Fairy Tale Flavours of Međimurje”.
• a co-founder of wine laboratory Vinolab, whose primary goal is wine production quality improvement in Croatia, by providing expert oenological consulting and laboratory wine analyses.
• He initiated the Vinart Grand Tasting, a leading business wine fair in Croatia, as well as Vinski Grad, a Croatian open-air summer wine festival.
• Špiranec is an experienced international wine judge. Judging for the first time in the DWWA in 2020.