A Croatian oasis chosen by the Swedish king
While staying in Zadar or in its surroundings, you will be attracted by the breath-taking natural sights, the history that has so much to tell and that will enchant you with every single stroll that you take through the old town. But, there are also some other places that are worth visiting. One of those, especially for the wine lovers among you, is Nadin, a municipality known as “the most ecological place in Croatia” and as the wine centre of the Zadar region.
It is situated in Ravni Kotari, a geographical region that is known as the fertile hinterland of Zadar. There, about a 30-minutes drive from Zadar, you will find the winery Skaulj that is owned by Sime Skaulj and his family. Mr. Sime Skaulj was very friendly and eager to show us his winery and his wines –his pride that he has been working on for more than 15 years. He is very proud of what he and his family have brought to life. The Skaulj wines are served in most restaurants in Zadar and we recommend you to visit this beautiful place where you can enjoy great food and have wine tastings, buy some delicious wines and enjoy the nature. Even the Swedish king Gustav XVI and queen Silvia decided to visit this charming place in April 2013 which is definitely a sign that this is a place worth visiting. We talked with Mr. Skaulj about his wine, ecological wine making and why you should visit his winery and restaurant.
My Istria: Can you please present your winery?!
Mr. Skaulj: This is a smaller winery, although it has a bigger capacity, but we want to keep it rather small. We produce from 75.000 to 80.000 litres of wine per year.
The wine is made ecologically and that is why it is special. It was the first and I think that it still is the only exclusively ecological winery in Croatia. There was not one bottle that left this winery that was not the result of ecological production.
We produce the most popular varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Chardonnay, as well as the white variety Marastina, which is indigenous to our region, and Crljenak that is known as Zinfandel in the US.
You said that all your wine is made ecologically. What does that mean?
-First of all, I need to say that the entire grape product that is used in the production of our wine comes from our vineyards. We have 15 hA of vineyards and we do not buy grapes from outside suppliers. No kinds of pesticides have been used in the production of our wines and all the compost used is organic, as well.
Which of your wines are you especially proud of?
-I think that the Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of all wines and this is why I am particularly attracted to this variety of wine. When you mention my name to anyone in this region, they will think of Cabernet Sauvignon. And vice versa. And I think that nobody in Croatia has had that much success with their Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot as I have.
What makes your wines special in comparison to other wines?
-Ravni Kotari, the region where Nadin is located, is a very special micro-location. Wines produced there are rich in minerals and extracts. It is a karst valley that offers the best results in years like this (2017), with heavy drought. We are expecting to have an excellent vintage this year.
Have you been awarded with any medals on wine competitions?
-Our wines were awarded at many national competitions like Sabatina, Vinistra, Vinfest Benkovac… as well as at international competitions. I am very proud of the Silver Medal at the London Decanter 2012. Out of 15.700 wines from all over the world, my Cabernet Sauvignon was the best red wine. The year after that, my Merlot has been awarded with the bronze medal, among approximately 17,000 wines.
How and when did Nadin become the centre of wine production, in particular ecological wine production in the Zadar area?
-It has been for a couple of centuries that Nadin is the centre of wine making in the Zadar region. People were growing wine to earn a life. Unfortunately, during the war in the 90s, the whole region was occupied. All the vineyards were devastated and the soil had not been cultivated for about 10 years. Then we started cultivating the soil and made use of the fact that the soil had not been treated with any pesticides. About 150 hA out of 370hA of cultived land is purely ecological. And, we have around 100hA of olive groves as well, where we produce olive oil for our own use and for our konoba.
What would you say, why should people visit Nadin and your vineyards and restaurant?
-Here they can experience what is hard to experience elsewhere, particularly on the coast. The peace and quiet and apart from that- good wine and good food. I have my own sheep and goats here, up in the woods. So, apart from the great wine, our guests can taste delicious food, authentic recipes made of local produce. The Swedish king Gustav XVI and his wife, queen Silvia, have chosen our winery among others and visited us in April 2013 and enjoyed our wine and food.