"The whisper is out about Croatia in the media and on-line – at last! Finally it has become a new “must go” destination." We wrote those words in early 2009!!
We are specialist importers of top quality wines from independent producers around Central and Eastern Europe. We look for interesting, quirky, individual and cutting edge producers whose wines and lives tell a rich story. We don't go where we're told by others, we research and find out for ourselves.
We sell to restaurants, bars, wine merchants, delicatessens, hotels, shops and private customers. All our wines and produce, sourced around these fascinating regions of Europe, can also be found on the shelves of our own retail wine shop and deli currently located at Brighton Open Market. (see our contact page)
Whilst we started our professional wine journey in Croatia in the early 2000s, it had a long way to go and took us a long time to break. Finally accepted in the UK in 2009, Croatia achieved an incredible 8 Decanter Gold awards (to Chile's 4 and Argentina's 7) then picking up yet more awards and accolades in May 2010 and onwards and upwards every year following.
However, contrary to bizarre 'wine expert' opinions we have heard over the years, Croatian winemaking is not just a few years old – in fact, as almost everywhere in Europe, the Romans were among the first vineyard owners on this soil.
It may just be that you didn’t actually know they have been producing high quality wines for many centuries, although so many now visit Croatia for their summer holidays that it is no longer the secret that it was when we first started.
When faced with the enormity of the country and its diversity of people, cultures, history and soil, a wine drinker may wonder … where on earth should we start?
Our story started in Istria. We visited first in 2004, and fell in love with the region, the countryside and coastline, the people, their food and wine, and a culture borne of a very complex past. Istria lies on the northern coast of Croatia, and has been part of many empires: the Roman, the Ottoman, the Venetian and the Austro-Hungarian, then Italy until 1947 when it became part of the former Yugoslavia.
30 minutes drive from Trieste, the farthest north-eastern Italian city, and across the border from Slovenia, on a great day we are fairly sure we can see St Mark’s Square in the distance across the Adriatic Sea. It certainly sounds romantic!
As we started to explore Istrian wine and gastronomy, and lost our fear of treading on new ground, we began to travel round the vineyards in favour of buying from local supermarkets and wine shops. Then, importantly, we fell in love with the characters, the personalities behind the wines, the people who make them.
Each one has a different story, some will make you laugh, some may make you feel very humble. So when we drink a bottle of Istrian wine in particular, whatever it may be, we believe that we are drinking a part of the personality of the winemaker, so deeply entrenched is their passion and devotion to their profession.
In these pages we sometimes speak about the medals that these wines have won, the prestige that has come to certain winemakers with awards.
However, their medals are only a sign of that which is judged by others, usually fellow winemakers, oenologists or experts in the field of wine production.
We are not what you'd label as "wine experts" here at Pacta Connect and we don't believe there are many that can say that truly they are in an industry that is so full of self-importance. We just enjoy a drink of a consistently exceptional wine. We enjoy fine wines that are different from the ‘norm’. We are not here to judge these wines with medals; we judge them with our desire to drink them again and again!
We hope you will enjoy these wines as much as we do, and that you will learn something about the personalities behind them, generations who are proud of where they live and who they are.
If you have the chance to visit Croatia, please think about making the effort to visit our winemakers. Please contact us if you make the decision to go there and we will provide you with more information. We know you will be made very welcome and we can tailormake each tour specifically for you or your friends and family. Just let us know your requirements!
And follow us on our journey beyond Croatia now, to other countries and regions further afield, further east and further into Central & Eastern Europe, where we are finding winemakers whose wines complement our increasing portfolio and are fit for private clients, Michelin star restaurants and top shops - including our own specialist wine shop and delicatessen now open in Brighton, East Sussex.
Trevor & Judith