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Book from the heart of Zvonimir Simčič for every vine grower and wine lover.

Book from the heart of Zvonimir Simčič for every vine grower and wine lover.

There are many reasons why nurturing the culture of reading is of exceptional importance. Books open new worlds for us, their stories inspire us, bring us new knowledge, broaden our horizons, and shape our understanding of the world. When someone feels the calling to write a book, the content is woven from the same ingredients. Then, the right moment must come to make it happen. Zvonimir Simčič - Miro from the Medot Estate found it when he retired after a long and fruitful career in managing the cooperative cellar. At that time, he poured all his knowledge and experience into a book about the culture of wine drinking: "Vino med ljudsko modrostjo in sodobno znanostjo" (Wine Between Folk Wisdom and Modern Science), published in 1987. In it, he presented various aspects of wine production, viticulture, oenology, as well as those related to the culture of wine consumption in the family and society, as well as wine service. In doing so, he also laid the foundations for the development of the sommelier profession in Slovenia. Dr. Denis Rusjan, a prominent Slovenian expert in viticulture and winemaking and a full-time professor of viticulture at the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, explains how to understand the value of Zvonimir's book at the time of its release and today.

Wine is a work of art!

"Whoever knows how to enjoy wine lives a better and more fruitful life," wrote Miro.

Those were turbulent years, decades of the post-war period when the Brda underwent major structural reforms and general changes that had the greatest impact on viticulture and winemaking, which at that time became and have remained the most important agricultural sectors in Brda. Although viticulture and winemaking in Brda have a tradition of several centuries, if not millennia, decisions could have been made in the 1970s and 1980s that would have led to a completely different present. It was precisely during that period that the simple, persistent, and sharp-witted Brici (inhabitants of Brda), under the vision and expertise of Mr. Zvonimir Simčič, preserved and further paved the way for modern viticulture as we know it today in Brda, and elevated the Rebula grape to an honorable place in Brda, at a time when it was being neglected elsewhere. "In the old days, people used to drink Rebula sweet and cloudy. That was a mistake because they literally wasted one of the best wines. The most that this grape variety can offer is as a dry wine. Only then does it provide elegance, refinement, and pleasant aroma." This is just one of the wisdoms that Mr. Simčič wrote decades ago, and it is thanks to him and his like-minded colleagues that Rebula remained predominantly "Briška" (from Brda) while this same-named wine is today achieving successes that Mr. Zvonimir would never have dared to dream of.

Zvonimir Simčič was the first cosmopolitan from Brda who tailored foreign viticultural and winemaking techniques to the Brda hills, local demands, and conditions, knowing that they were specific and different. Thanks to the uniqueness of Brda, he recognized the importance of the tradition of growing Rebula despite the pressure to introduce international grape varieties. One could say that Miro went out into the world with the mission to enrich his local hills with global knowledge, and then carry their wealth to the wider world. Therefore, I believe that the news that Rebula recently reached Hollywood’s movie screens in the world-famous series Blacklist would have delighted him. "Hey, I found that Slovenian wine you wanted, this Rebula," reads a short sentence that is much more than a random statement, as it confirms that perseverance, hard work, and belief always bear fruit and spread a good reputation even to such distant places.

He wrote about his professional experiences in the book "Vino med ljudsko modrostjo in sodobno znanostjo" (Wine Between Folk Wisdom and Modern Science), published in 1987. In the book, he combined the knowledge of the time about the origin of the vine, the history of viticulture and winemaking, key milestones in grape and wine production, the composition and quality of grapes and wine, which still shape the industry in many ways today. The book contains facts that were disputed or even ridiculed by some until recently, and that is why they deserve additional attention. For example, Mr. Simčič stated that "wine is born in the vineyard and is the fruit of the grapevine and the sun" and that "fertilizer is the soil's salt," while wine is its blood. At the same time, he wisely warns that "blind trust in technology and chemistry can lead to unacceptable results" and that knowledge is always the most important aspect for a proper understanding of viticulture and winemaking.

Already then, the visionary winegrower outlined and defined key milestones for successful and sustainable viticulture and winemaking, which we have been talking about in recent years. In his book, he was one of the first in Slovenia to address the role of wine in society and its impact on health. With striking titles and facts about the role of wine in different periods of our lives, which could still face criticism or even disapproval today, he was among the first in Slovenia to pave the way for social consensus on wine. And yes, today we know that some components of wine truly benefit human health.

It is worth noting that he also consistently criticized excessive and unreasonable wine consumption and emphasized that "we must not claim that wine can replace medicine. That would be a mistake. In ancient times, they correctly claimed that wine is a remedy for the body and soul, but it does not perform miracles."

While reading the book, I came across a very interesting thought from Mr. Simčič when he highlights the importance of the role of women and proper upbringing of children in shaping their attitude towards wine. "Wine assumes a different role when a housewife buys it, brings it home, and puts it on the table, be it for lunch, when visiting friends, relatives, or during various ceremonies," says Miro. At the same time, he warns that "children who do not know about wine can become its victims" and that "children who gradually get to know wine and start to respect it are more difficult to deceive by drugs," while, according to him, alcoholism is also less common among such young people.

He attributed to all present and future wine producers, wine lovers, and "oenophobes" that it is necessary to remember two things about wine, namely that "wine production is not an amateur's work but a process that requires special attention, experience, ability, and honesty" and that its "final product is not an alcoholic beverage like any other, so its effects on humans cannot be compared to ethyl alcohol diluted in water."

With the thoughtful title "It is good to trust, but it is even better not to trust," he wanted to emphasize that the production of high-quality wine is not a given, but it requires caution, carefulness, consistency, experience.

As a fellow vine grower, I can sincerely thank him for writing the foundations of sustainable viticulture and winemaking back in the 1980s. The heart of Mr. Zvonimir Simčič will forever remain ingrained in the book Wine Between Folk Wisdom and Modern Science, and with the possibility of accessing its digital copy, I am confident that a part of him will certainly come to life anew in the everyday lives of every vine grower.

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Dr. Denis Rusjan

Wine is a work of art!

Wine Between Folk Wisdom and Modern Science (1987, Tržaški tisk)

Zvonimir Simčič

Digital copy in Slovenian language

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Wine is a work of art!

Zvonimir Simčič (13.7.1921 — 23.6.2008)

He was born into a family of vine growers. From 1940 to 1942, he studied in Conegliano, then graduated in Poreč and became an agricultural expert. He completed his university studies and specialization in oenology in Ljubljana. Upon returning to Nova Gorica, he first became the technical director of Klet Brda and later its chief director until 1982. He also served as the headmaster of an agricultural school and, with his perseverance, embarked on promoting and developing cooperatives.

He was considered an eminence due to his work in the field of viticulture and winemaking, especially because of the extremely successful technological and economic story that Klet Brda represented at the time. He was one of the few foreigners invited to become a member of the Italian Academy of Vine and Wine. He became a member of the knightly Order of Ordo Equestris Vini Europae and was instrumental in establishing the Slovenian Sommelier Association. He was also honored as the first honorary citizen of the Brda municipality.

His legacy is written mainly in the preservation of the Rebula grape variety and the elevation of the quality of wines made from this autochtonous variety. While managing Klet Brda, he patented the successful wine called Zlata rebula (Golden Rebula), which consistently received gold medals at competitions. He also created the first sparkling Rebula using the tank method. After retiring, he crafted the first méthode champenoise sparkling wines based on Rebula in his own vineyard and cellar, which became known as Medot. Due to his efforts, he earned the nickname "Father of Rebula" on both sides of the border, both in Slovenia and Italy.

His life and work have become an inspiration for the book "Gold Wine: Rebula, the Liquid Gold That Links Slovenia and Italy", written by the American author Noah Charney, who resides in Slovenia. The book was published by the reputable international publisher Rowman & Littlefield in the United States.

Wine is a work of art!