Step back in time as you enter the world of the traditional Dalmatian Konoba. It’s where the wine is made and stored, where tools are kept when not out working in the fields, and it’s where you sit around a table of an evening and enjoy a glass or two and a song.
The konoba is chock full of pressing equipment for grapes and olives, storage barrels of various sizes, and assorted jars, bottles and goatskins. These days the last item is not so common, it has to be said, but in its time, it was the wine-storage vessel of choice – nice and light to strap on your donkey for transporting.
Deep in the village of Vrbanj is a fine example of an old konoba, where centuries-old equipment has been lovingly preserved alongside its more modern equivalent. Old wooden barrels opposite a row of stainless steel casks, and in the centre, an inviting wooden table set with trays of bottles and glasses.
This the working konoba of Miki Bratanić, and he’s very proud to be part of this traditional way of life. His wine is really good, and his prošek is among the best I’ve tasted. In 2010, for the 500th anniversary of the Hvar Rebellion, Miki produced a special label prošek, called Matija Ivanić, in memory of the populist leader.
Miki Bratanić also writes beautiful poetry, and has published a book about the Konoba, with poems, stories and photographs. He uses local dialect and old words to evoke the harshness of life here, and the comfort and cheer of the konoba after a day’s hard work. An English version is available, though to my mind it lacks something of the wonderful repetition and rhythm of the original language, it still paints a very compelling picture. Well worth a read!
Miki’s konoba (that’s the actual wine cellar, as opposed to the book!) is open to the public by request, I believe, so you need to call and arrange in advance. When we visited in May, there was some chat about it becoming part of the new “wine tourism” initiative of the Hvar Winemakers’ Association. It’s a wonderfully authentic tasting room, full of character and history – what a brilliant way to experience the island’s wines!
References and further reading
Miki Bratanić’s website: www.mikibratanic.com (in Croatian only, I’m afraid)
Phone: 091 146 0095