His efforts continue to be a model in the development and creation of wines in the region. He was a visionary who set new directions in the world of wine and laid the foundations for his beloved Medot Estate. Above all, he instilled in his fellow villagers and his descendants the belief that it is not just the destination that matters, but the entire journey of life.
Family Simčič from the Medot Estate has been closely connected to Brda region for more than two centuries. Respect for tradition and love for the vine, especially the autochthonous rebula, has been marked by Zvonimir Simčič's persistent work. It is thanks to his successful efforts to preserve this variety in the post-war period in the 1960s, at a time when he was the only one who saw its potential, that he earned well-deserved recognition on both sides of the border: the father of rebula in Slovenia and the papà della ribolla gialla in Italy. At a decisive moment at the turn of the last century, when foreign varieties were popular and winemakers were following the trends of the time, he kept the rebula vines in the land of Brda with his vision and determination, and by his charisma and knowledge. He knew that only with our autochthonous variety would we be able to achieve exeptional results where others could not.
Three generations: Zvonimir Simčič in the centre, son Igor and grandson Simon
Connoisseur, visionary, innovator: Golden Rebula, Sparkling Rebula and Medot
He was respected wine connoisseur at home and internationally. He studied at one of the most renowned schools of viticulture and oenology in Conegliano, Italy, whose graduates hold the most important professions and positions in the wine industry worldwide. He had moral authority in his homeland and acquired professional guidance through his education. With these foundations, he was able to establish and implement his vision, even though his attitude towards Rebula was not understood by anyone at the time. Under his leadership, a modern cooperative cellar, now known as Klet Brda, was built. He was involved in its development from the start, first as oenologist and later as its long-time director. He more than tripled the initial capacity of the cellar, which was 4 million litres, by the time he retired. At its peak, the production reached around 14 million liters, with more than half being Rebula. However, quality was always his top priority. He patented a new method of producing rebula, which yielded incredible results. His Golden Rebula instanty became a hit at international tastings, and he achieved outstanding sales success with it. He was also the first to create a sparkling wine from rebula, initially using the tank (Charmat) method, resulting in the famous Sparkling Rebula. Following its success, sparkling rebula was also produced on the Italian side, using the tank method, which still represents the largest quantity and quality of sparkling rebula on the Italian side - Collavini. Zvonimir Simčič retired from the cooperative cellar in the early 1980s, and in his retirement, he fulfilled his ultimate mission - to create a classic sparkling wine based on his beloved Rebula at his estate and to place this autochthonous variety on par with champagnes. He invested all his knowledge in this endeavor and perfected elegant sparkling wines, which became known under the brand Medot.
Eminence in the wine world
His efforts and achievements have been recognized and rewarded on multiple occasions. He became an honorary citizen of the Municipality of Brda. In Italy, he was regarded as an eminence due to the successful technological and economic story that Klet Brda represented at the time. He was the only foreigner who, thanks to his work in winemaking, became a member of the Italian Academy of Vine and Wine - he was honoured by the arrival of all the academics to the Medot Estate. He was also a member of the knightly order Ordo Equestris Vini Europae and the initiator of the Slovenian Sommelier Association.
Rebula Journey - a wine dedicated to the life and work of Zvonimir Simčič
At the opening of the renovated cellar Medot in 2019, new wines were presented and a brand new label of still wine Rebula Journey was launched in honour of Zvonimir Simčič. ”Rebula Journey is the complete story of Zvonimir Simčič's life journey. He gained experience all over the world and brought the knowledge back home where he incorporated it into his work in his beloved Brda region. For thirty years he successfully led the largest winery in Slovenia, and with a clear vision he laid the foundations for the development and flourishing of Brda, which is now recognised all over the world. The Rebula Journey represents that part of his life journey when an important chapter in his life ended in Klet Brda and a new one began in his home winery. This wine has found its way between the fresh, light wines he produced at Klet Brda and the more mature and complex oned he created at Medot Estate," said Simon Simčič, Zvonimir's grandson, at the launch of the new label and wine. The illustration on the new label, created by renowned illustrator Lili Saje Wang, depicts this story as well.
The House of the Father of Rebula - the cradle of the Brda-Collio cross-border initiative
It is thanks to Zvonimir Simčič's efforts, which still resonate today, that the first joint meeting between the then Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Dr Aleksandra Pivec, and the President of the Italian Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Massimiliano Fedrigo, took place at the Medot Estate, the birthplace of the father of the rebula, at the beginning of May 2019. They laid the foundation stone of a project linking two wine-growing regions and one variety - rebula. The Brda-Collio initiative was thus born, which, with the aim of a single cross-border protection of the geographical origin of rebula, could become a unique European project. Both parties underlined their willingness to cooperate, particularly in joint activities related to the protection and promotion of wines from this area. As a unique European example of cross-border collaboration on joint protection, this project can be a great inspiration, as cooperation is one of the key values in facing all modern challenges.