The Croatian wine story is attracting increasing international attention, and its promotional efforts are varied and at times innovative. One organisation adding a touch of colour and innovation is Women on Wine (WOW), an energetic group of female Croatian wine enthusiasts, who are doing an excellent job promoting the product they love. TCN met WOW founder and president Sanja Muzaferija on February 27, 2016 to learn more about their work, ahead of their flagship annual event on March 19, Pink Day in Zagreb.
1. WOW has become quite a force on Croatian wine scene, despite being a relatively young organization. What is it exactly? Tell us a little about who you are and what you do.
Well, we have been working hard for 4 years, meeting at least once a month to taste, discuss and learn about wine. So far we have organized or co-organized more than 70 events and on various occasions tasted many interesting wines, taught and promoted Croatian wines, enjoyed, socialized, visited wine cellars and vineyards in Croatia and Europe. From the very beginning WOW members have engaged in choosing the best Croatian wine, within our project “What Women Want”. According to the pre-selection of one well-known sommelier, all our members get to cast a vote by mail, and in the end we award the WOW Grand prix to the absolute winner – a wine maker who then travels to a wine region of his or her choice.
With our biggest yearly event, Pink Day Zagreb, we have managed to rock the wine scene a bit, especially when it comes to women and rosé wine. We have established good connections with Donne del vino Italia, Donne del vino Piedmont, Femmes et vins du monde (Women and wines of the world) from Monte Carlo, etc. In 2011. the WOW association was awarded Award of Encouragement – Nova d’Encouragement (Catégorie Association), that Femmes et Vins du Monde give out every year to an individual or association for special merit in the wine world.
2. Croatian rose? Explain!
If we talk about Croatian rosé – the replies can be very different. The most interesting are the ones made of indigenous varietals like Plavac mali or Teran, but, of course – there are all different kinds of rose wines in Croatia – made from different varietals – from Istria and Dalmatia to Slavonia and Međimurje. The idea behind PINK DAY, however, wasn’t ONLY to promote Croatian rosé wines, but moderate drinking of light wines, such as rosé. Since we are women – it was partly a “joke” – to promote a colour of wine that is considered to be “girlie” , proving at the same time that rosé wines are NOT any worse than whites or reds. Actually, when I was giving a name to the festival, I had a positive and optimistic day in mind – thus PINK DAY. Also, we as women, are not so much interested in getting tipsy – but also want to do good, and we have charities organized at every Pink Day. So, in a way – it is a promotion of a PINK prospective on life, putting your pink/rose-coloured glasses on for at least one day a year.
3. Croatian wine is attracting increasing international attention, but is still relatively unknown. With more than 130 indigenous varieties, there is plenty to discover. Tell us about the most important regions and varieties from a rose point of view.
You have to bear in mind that I am not an oenologist or a sommelier, for that matter. I am a journalist and my background is in culture – namely – theatre, film, fashion. I have been deputy editor-in-chief of Croatian Cosmopolitan for 9 years. Only recently, maybe a few years back – I have started to write about wine from lifestyle point of view. So, I am not an expert, but, most certainly – I have learned quite a bit. In my opinion, different varietals and different terroir give different kind of rosé wines, but, at the end of the day it all depends on the winemaker, and also – personal taste. My favourite rosé wines two years ago are not the same as now, and, of course, it is common knowledge that when it comes to wine – quite a lot depends on the vintage. My personal favourites are stronger rosé wines from the south. But not everybody shares my opinion or taste. The rosé wines from Istria, pale coloured and lighter are closer to the wines from French Provence – from where, supposedly, the best rosés originate.
4. Pink Day looks very stylish and a fun event. What can we expect on the day?
Pink Day is always an exciting and fresh event. This year it will take place on March 19 in Mimara Museum, and it will be the fourth edition of Pink Day, where we regularly have new and interesting workshops. For three years now, we also have a “festival within the festival” – Green in Pink – where 12-15 olive oil producers exhibit their extra virgin olive oils. Our charity this year will take place a little bit before, on the March 8 in Vidikovac (Zagreb Eye). We, as WOW, have initiated the charity event, but DORA is organizing it, and members of Zonta International and Lions Club “Zrinjevac” are supporting. This year’s cause is a scholarship for a talented young person (girl) – a yearly tuition fee for her studying agriculture.
We have already more than 70 confirmed exhibitors from all over Europe (including Italy, France, Spain, Slovenia etc.), with some interesting wine premieres, because it has become a habit for the winemakers that they are saving their new vintages and some completely new launches – for the event. This year we have plenty other news, but we will we announce at our press conference on the March 8 in Mimara. Be there at noon, if you can make it! On March 19, Pink Day itself, you can be sure to expect a lot of good rosé wines, a lot of pretty ladies, a lot of good vibes, a lot of people wearing pink and – some great fun!
5. Tell us about 4-5 rose producers who are particularly exciting.
I can not help being very “motherly” to “my” memebers: so simply have to promote or stress the wines from our WOW member winemakers: from Istria – Kozlović and Medea vina; Tomac winery from Plešivica region near Zagreb; winery Dvanajščak from Međimurje; Kolar from Slavonia; Kairos vina and Korta Katarina from Dalmatia.
6. Take us off the beaten path and introduce us to an exciting Croatian wine region which is not so well known.
Most certainly– Plešivica! And Međimurje.
7. And finally – red, white, rose. Your favourite of each.
I wouldn’t dare to disclose this “information”. The wine makers would ”kill” me. And, of course – the choice changes…constantly.
Apart from being a positive cry of approval in the Anglosaxon world – WOW is the name of an association – „Women on wine“ (or in Croatian ŽIV – Žene i vino). Founded by journalist, editor and writer Sanja Muzaferija, it gathers women that are engaged in wine-making or simply enjoy and worship it. (Lady) Members are oenologists, sommeliers, vintners, journalists… or wine lovers. The association came to life more than four years ago when Muzaferija saw a photograph of Croatian vintners at an audience with President Ivo Josipović where the only woman present was Mrs. Mare Mrgudić. Thus the idea of an association that would unite and consolidate women in Croatia who are connected to wine, and they are not just a few.
By Paul Bradbury
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