Having launched operations with just two hectares of vineyards and a cellar covering 60m2, Vinarija Aleksandrović today has approximately 85 hectares of vineyards and has produced around 300,000 bottles of wine, exclusively using grapes from its own production
Božidar Aleksandrović, as a representative of his family’s fourth generation of grape growers and winemakers, proudly shares his wine story and the secret recipe of Triumf wine, revealing why all the work in his vineyards is done by hand and why wine tourism represents a development opportunity for Serbia.
The Aleksandrovićs have spent almost 120 years engaged in viticulture and winemaking. You are surely very proud of the tradition that serves as the foundation for everything you do, but we believe that you also look far into the future. Are we mistaken?
I am the fourth generation of grape and wine producers in my family and my entire wine story is based on the foundations of family winemaking. At the very beginning, I had two hectares of vineyards and a 60m2 cellar under the house, where we produced wine for our own needs, only later adding our own labels and appearing on the market.
The emergence of a private winery in the ‘90s resounded around the region, with everyone wanting to try the top-quality wine from the cellar of the Aleksandrović family. We then produced five to six thousand bottles of wine annually and sold them at a few of the best restaurants in Belgrade and the surrounding area, while our new stage and the creation of a new vision began in the year 2000, and as you see continues to this day.
During that initial period, I first planted three hectares, then another five, then seven, and so on over subsequent years, while I also started construction of the winery, which now – after several construction stages – covers about 3,000m2. From the outset, we had the vision that we would produce high-quality wines; that everything should be in the service of quality. It was in that way that we designed the vineyard, and that’s also how we approach the production of grapes and wine.
A significant moment occurred in 1992, when famous palace cellarman Živadin Tadić, who had emigrated to Canada after World War II, discovered that the Aleksandrović family was restoring the winemaking tradition of the Oplenac region and sent the original recipe – for the Triumf varietal composition. That had been the best wine of the royal cellars, which was consumed at almost all European courts prior to World War II. And so it was that in our cellar, on the basis of a yellowing manuscript, we began inscribing new pages in the family’s long history of viticulture and winemaking, relying on the experiences of our ancestors, new scientific findings and modern technology. Today, after three decades, our wines can be found in La Cité du Vin – the World Wine Museum in Bordeaux, as well as on the wine lists of the most prestigious hotels and restaurants around the world – from Japan, China and Russia, via Western Europe, all the way to the U.S.
You keep pace with world trends and styles, while you also possess knowhow, stateof- the-art equipment, technology, expert people… And yet, despite all this, you still pick your grapes by hand?
The quality of wine arises in the vineyard. Each hectare of vineyard requires almost 400 hours of manual labour, from pruning to the harvest itself, in order to produce high-quality grapes that will later produce top-quality wine. As such, wine production at Vinarija Aleksandrović is a manual process, the wine emerges in the vineyard, with the great use of the human labour that is essential to produce wine of a superior quality.
Wine critics and wine lovers around the world are increasingly praising Serbian wines, and yours are among the most popular and awarded. How would you explain this?
Over the last ten or so years, Serbia – as a wine and viticulture destination – has represented something new on the wine scenes of Europe and the world. Due to the wines of this area being seen as exotic, wine journalists, critics and wine lovers are increasingly paying attention to us. Interestingly, Aleksandrović wines have been on the wine lists of restaurants and hotels almost worldwide for many years, including at least 30-40 Michelin- starred restaurants. We were carried to the most prestigious places by the high-quality, continuity of quality and exotic nature of our wines.
Aleksandrović wines have been on the wine lists of restaurants and hotels almost worldwide for many years, including at least 30-40 Michelin- starred restaurants
Aleksandrović wines very quickly began occupying a significant spot and winning medals at the most prestigious world competitions, with one of the most beloved being Sequra in Tokyo, where our Rodoslov wine won a major gold medal. In London, our Triumf sparkling wine was declared the best non-Champagne wine produced using the Chateaux method, while Triumf is also a multiple winner of many fairs. It was declared the best Balkan wine at the 2019 BIWC competition in Bulgaria, while there are also a large number of gold medals from competitions like Decanter (England), Mundus Vini (Germany), AWC Vienna (Austria) etc.
Will wine tourism achieve parity with mountain, spa and rural tourism? Can this help revive our villages?
Wine tourism worldwide represents, in and of itself, great potential for the development of a region or country. Why shouldn’t that be the same in our country? We are essentially witnessing the fact that an ever- increasing number of wine tourists are visiting Serbia and that wine tourism is the future of our country’s development.
Vinarija Aleksandrović has been engaged in wine tourism for 10 years already, and we are visited by between 12,000 and 15,000 people annually. We recognised the importance of wine tourism to our further development and began investing in that sector. We built two houses with swimming pools, which are surrounded by vineyards and provide wonderful views of Oplenac, and we’ve also started constructing a hotel, Wine Resort, which will enable wine lovers to have a comfortable stay and an enjoyable time overall.
What can Serbian wine tourism offer guests?
Wine tourism is much more than simply touring wineries. Tourists can acquaint themselves with the culture and tradition of the areas they’re visiting, with the production process itself, and they can consume wines alongside various gastronomic specialities. Our doors are open to wine lovers from all over the world, and in addition to tours of the winery and cellar, we offer them curator consultations, tastings, food and wine pairings, the organisation of seminars and expert lectures. Our guests can stay overnight and enjoy breakfast in the winery itself, or in one of our houses with a swimming pool, which are located in the vineyards.