With his chiselled features akin to a Roman Emperor, Jelsa winemaker Andro Tomic was a charismatic and photogenic face of Croatian wine prior to EU entry, but it is one of his photogenic vineyards which is currently in the news, having been named the best vineyard in Central Dalmatia on February 21, 2014, at the annual gathering of ecological association, Lijepa Nasa
The vineyard near Vira, just north of Hvar Town, has become a symbol of the resurgence of the Hvar wine industry after a devastating attack of phylloxera and punitive tax changes imposed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the late 19th Century led to the decimation of the island's wine industry, accompanied by mass emigration. An island which once had some 5,700 hectares of vines under cultivation has just 280 today.
Tomic, whose media appearances ranged from the BBC to the Associated Press at the height of the Prosek scandal
prior to EU entry last July, is one of Croatia's best-known and innovative vintners in Croatia, successfully combining his French education with an intimate knowledge of his native Hvar. The result is an outstanding selection of wines, with a range of wines from indigenous grapes, such as Plavac Mali, Bogdanusa and Posip, and more internationally recognised sorts such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The award-winning vineyard is his latest project, and comprises mostly of some 14,000 vines of Plavac Mali, the relative of Zinfandel which is starting to attracting international attention. As previously reported on Digital Journal
, it is the first organic Plavac Mali vineyard planted on the northern slopes of Croatia's premier — and sunniest — island.