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CLARA MOSCHINI

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Gravner: new vineyard in Slovenia

It extends over 8 hectares (about 20 acres) in Dedno

Dedno vineyard encompasses three artificial ponds and has required a significant landscape-architecture effort in order to create a vine garden

The new vineyard of Joško Gravner, founder of Gravner winery, is getting ready. It extends over 8 hectares (about 20 acres) in Dedno, Slovenia, and it has been prepared for 17 years. Dedication and tenacity are the key words for this visionary project. Dedno vineyard encompasses three artificial ponds and has required a significant landscape-architecture effort in order to create a vine garden endowed with many tree species and a number of artificial bird nests as opposed to a more common plantation of vines only. The steep slopes have often forced Joško to work by hand and a landslip occurred in 2001 has further slowed down works.

Finally, the project is reaching its final stage. Last spring rootstock vines were planted and grafting will likely be carried out in a two years time, once the root system has adequately developed.

The story of the Azienda Agricola Gravner starts in 1901 with the purchase of 2.5 hectares of land and a house. Joško Gravner began his career as a winemaker who employed the most updated cellar technology and then, slowly moved on towards a nature-oriented approach. In 2001 Joško starts making wine in terracotta amphorae, following a traditional production method used in the Caucasus, more precisely in the Kakheti region, where wine is made in large terracotta amphorae buried underground. This meant going back to ancestral techniques: indigenous yeasts, no temperature control fermentation, long skin maceration, amphora ageing and lunar calendar rhythms. Five years ago Joško further moved on with a decision he has been mulling over for many years. He stopped cultivating international grape varieties to better focus on two great native interpreters of the territory, white Ribolla grape and red Pignolo grape. It was 2012 and the decision marked the end of Bianco Breg.

The Gravner family owns three vineyards: Runk in the hamlet of Oslavia and Hum and Dedno in Slovenia, one kilometer away from the cellar. The vineyards cover a total surface area of 18 hectares. On 15 hectares grow Ribolla and Pignolo vines, while Cabernet vines only grow on one small plot of land in Hum. All the land where the vines grow is covered with turf and the vines are treated with non-invasive means. The planting distance is 0.80x1.45 m and the land is tilled using small tractors specially designed by the Gravner family in such a way that they can be driven between the rows of vines. By digging ponds in his largest vineyards Joško has tried to re-establish a natural balance which has been destroyed by intensive farming and monocultures. Water brings to the vineyards plants, insects and animals which have been deprived of their living spaces and are fundamental for a healthy environment. On the terraces where our vineyards grow we have planted trees such as olive trees, cypresses, wild apple trees, manna ashes and rowan trees. These trees are important since they are home to many animals and offer support to man-made nests which we have hung on them to make it easier for different bird species to live in our vineyards.

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