The delicate art of selecting the right grape varietal to plant on any given plot of land led me to create an informal amicus brief with neighboring winemakers in Sonoita. With my coterie, I parse through all the choices to make prudent decisions based on history and performance of established vineyards. Currently at our Los Milics estate vineyard, we have Petit Verdot, Marsanne and Montepulciano in the ground; and this spring, we’re grafting Malvasia Bianca, Tannat, Carignan, Teroldego and Vranac onto rootstock.
Sentimentally speaking, I’m unusually invested in Vranac. My ethnic background is half Montenegrin and half Colombian, so imagine how wide-eyed I became when Todd Bostock of Dos Cabezas told me about Vranac: a promising indigenous Balkan red grape variety grown in Montenegro – the poetic provenance elicited a frisson as if my ancestors were signaling a wink.
Supple, deeply colored and rich, Vranac does not capitulate to new oak – on the contrary, it benefits and carries it well. According to wine guru Jancis Robinson, Vranac grapes “not only have great potential, but even the most commonly available example is impressive.” It is no surprise that Vranac is translated to “black stallion.” It is also normally compared to Primitivo and Zinfandel.
The history alone has inveigled me into getting my hands on some budwood. It feels like a piece of home is coming to the vineyard, and I look forward to pairing my first pour with some red beans with paprika, roasted red peppers and cevapcici to celebrate the late Radisav Milic Jovanovic, my father. Hopefully, in about two years I’ll bowl you over with its alluring story while you swirl away the past and the future like the cognoscenti do.