Wine Story

Djokovic Winery

Djokovic winery prepares to serve up an ace

After several decades in the wilderness, Serbian winemaking has been resurgent in the past 20 years or so, with a number of independent vineyards producing increasingly refined wines of both red and white varieties. Serbia has begun to make a well-deserved name for itself on the international stage as a wine- making country with a very promising future.

Against such a positive background, when a name as famous as ‘Djokovic’ appears on wines produced in Serbia, it is certain to attract attention from far and wide.

At first glance, there’s maybe not an obvious link between the esoteric world of producing fine wines and world-class competitive tennis. But when we look a little deeper, we can see that they do share certain qualities in common – among them, passion, perseverance and a determination to produce the best performance.

These are certainly qualities that Goran Dokjovic, uncle of the world’s most famous tennis star, is applying to the wines he’s producing from Syrah and Chardonnay grapes grown at his vineyard close to Topola, in the wine-producing area of Šumadija, in Central Serbia.

Wine making in this area of the country is thought to have its origins in Roman times, who found the rolling hills, fertile and mixed soil types and a variety of micro-climates provided prefect conditions for wine production. Viticulture and history in the region are inextricably linked, going back to Karadjordje, the leader of the First Serbian Uprising against the Turkish Ottomans in the early 1800s, and his son, Prince Alexander, who famously had a wine cellar at nearby Oplenac.

“In one sense, we are not starting anything new here,” says Goran Djokovic. “We are continuing a Serbian tradition that goes back centuries.”

An extended awareness of time is a common trait among wine-makers the world over. A subtle combination of science and art with perhaps a touch of added magic, winemaking cannot be rushed.

“Since we planted the vineyard, seven years ago, we have been slowly and carefully developing our wines until we are now approaching the high standard we want for the wines we will soon release commercially in Serbia,” comments Goran. “During this time, we have been faced with many difficult challenges, but I think it’s obvious that a very strong determination runs in our family’s blood. With passion and commitment, all the obstacles have been overcome.”

In another parallel with his nephew’s remarkable sporting success, Goran places a big emphasis on the team he has built around him.

“When Novak works his magic on the tennis court, he has a wonderful team behind him and I know this means a lot to him. The same is true at the winery. We have taken time and great care to find the best people to join our team – and chemistry and passion is equally as important as technical knowledge. We are a family; all dedicated to the same goal – to produce the very best results possible from our soil, our grapes and our work.” said Goran.

Goran adds some valuable advice for the many new entrepreneurs who are starting businesses all over Serbia, especially in the craft foods and beverages sector.

“Whatever business you’re in, you will certainly face many tough challenges. Some you may be able to predict; others will catch you completely by surprise. The ones who survive and hopefully go on to thrive are those who have the strength of character to keep going, even when all the odds seem against them. This is the Djokovic way – how many times have we seen Novak two sets down and go on to win yet another famous victory? You have to dig deep, find your core strength and go on. You cannot fail in any business, or in life, unless you give up. Giving up is simply not in the Djokovic dictionary!”

The Djokovic Wines were well-received by connoisseurs and industry leaders at a recent low-key, VIP launch at the ‘Wine Vision’ event in Belgrade. Although he himself doesn’t drink any alcohol, Novak Djokovic rarely misses a chance to support his family and promote the best of his country, so he dropped by to wish his uncle and the team well with the venture, causing quite a stir in the normally quiet tasting room.

Of course, nobody in the wine world can rely on just a name to carry them – no matter how famous the name may be. Goran Djoković was very satisfied with the reception of both the red and white Djoković wines at the tasting.

“Our wines were very well appreciated at the event. We will shortly go ahead with the commercial release of our wines in Serbia and the world,” he confirmed after the event.

Wine lovers in the rest of the world may have to wait a while longer to taste the Djokovic wines.

“Our production is only about 40,000 bottles per year,” explained Goran. “It’s about quality, not quantity. Serbia is our first priority of course and I think the demand will be strong. We’ll see how it goes after that.”

As Serbia’s wines have developed, so has the demand among customers, with wine bars popping up in Belgrade and other cities around the country.

“Many people are enjoying good wine and we’re sure our wines will find their place on the market ” Goran added.

But like their most celebrated family member, Goran and the Djokovic winery will never be satisfied with resting on their laurels, no matter how successful their first serve becomes. The winemakers plan to continue refining their current Syrah and Chardonnay range and they are also hoping to expand with a sparkling wine in the future.

Next year, there will be an exciting new way to sample the Djokovic wines - work is already in progress at the winery to build a wine-tasting area, so that visitors can sample the wines and the unique Djokovic atmosphere. There is even talk of a tennis court on the site, just in case somebody is inspired to play a few games before heading to the tasting room.