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article imageMaster of Wine Jo Ahearne picks 1st Hvar grapes with Andro Tomic

By Paul Bradbury     Sep 24, 2014 in Food
Jelsa - After moving to Croatia's premier island, Master of Wine Jo Ahearne picks her first grapes on a journey to produce quality Hvar wine.
The island of Hvar's colourful 2,400-year wine story opened a new chapter on September 24, 2014, as Master of Wine Jo Ahearne brought the first freshly-picked grapes to the Bastijana winery in Jelsa, the first concrete step in her new direction to produce her own wine on Croatia's premier island.
Ahearne, who is one of only 314 Masters of Wine in the world, has had a short but intense relationship with Hvar wines, starting out as a guest at Dalmacija Wine Expo in Split in April, where she was pleasantly surprised by the quality and variety of Croatian wines, as she explained in an interview with Digital Journal at the time.
Another Master of Wine  Jo Ahearne  inspecting freshly picked grapes at the Bastijana winery in Jels...
Another Master of Wine, Jo Ahearne, inspecting freshly picked grapes at the Bastijana winery in Jelsa, as she embarks on her journey of winemaking on Hvar.
Bastijana
Her research brought her to the island of Hvar, which is one of Croatia's top tourist destinations, but also an exciting wine region undergoing a renaissance, and after a visit to Hvar in July to meet the winemakers and explore the possibilities, she decided to move to the town of Jelsa and work with celebrated vintner Andro Tomic, with a view to producing her own wine. Communicating in French, the two winemakers were out in the fields today gathering the harvest, as the Tomic Facebook page explained:
Andro Tomic and Master of Wine Jo Ahearne. Ahearne has moved to Hvar to make her own wine  the first...
Andro Tomic and Master of Wine Jo Ahearne. Ahearne has moved to Hvar to make her own wine, the first high-profile international winemaker in the region to do so.
Bastijana
"There are more astronauts than wine professionals who carry the prestigious title of Master of Wine! It is an elite qualification belonging to a person with a high degree of expertise and knowledge about wine in the broadest sense of the word. Therefore, we are delighted that Master of Wine Jo Ahearne chose Hvar and our winery to the make excellent wine. These photos capture the moment of screening the very best selection of grapes."
(Jo Ahearne interviewed by Hvar TV at a wine tasting in Vrboska in July)
The arrival of Ahearne is the latest good news story for the Hvar Wine Association, whose members are enjoying a resurgence in recent times, with new export markets as far away as America, China, Russia and Singapore. After the devastating effects of a deadly attack of phylloxera in the 19th century decimated the island's wine industry, vineyards under cultivation on Hvar have dropped from a peak of 5700 hectares to a mere 280 today.
Digital Journal interviews Jo Ahearne at Dalmacija Wine Expo.
Digital Journal interviews Jo Ahearne at Dalmacija Wine Expo.
Dusan Jelic
What the winemakers may have lost in quantity, they have more than made up with quality, and the arrival of the expertise of Ahearne can only add to that quality, as well as further lift the reputation of the wines of Hvar.
(A previous wine harvest with Andro Tomic)
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