Krolo vineyard is situated 30km away from Split and from the Mediterranean sea. It is surrounded by mountains such as Mosor, Kamešnica, Dinara and partly Svilaja. For half a year, this area is dominantly influenced by continental climate whilst Mediterranean climate is dominant during the summer. Low night temperatures make great impact on grapes. Not only do they refresh it but also improve acids in it. Krolo vineyard has been cultivating few kinds of grape varieties which are neither Mediterranean nor continental. They are mostly from France and include varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet and Chardonnay but there is also their famous Zinfandel or as it is known in this area, “Kaštelanski crljenak”, which extends their amount of vines by more than 5000. Krolo vineyard mostly produces blends of Merlot and Cabernet varieties whilst they sell their other wines individually.
Why is Krolo vineyard one of the rarest businesses of this kind in the area? The first problem is that most of the lots are basically chopped; there is a small amount of land per owner. The other reason is industrialisation that happened during the 60s and the 70s during which most of the people emigrated to the cities and other countries. After that, most of the area was populated with older people unable to do any kind of hard physical activity.
Dražen Krolo, owner of the vineyard, decided to start his wine business because he had a nice amount of cultivable land and some funds to start with. In the beginning it was all imagined as a hobby but slowly it turned to something professional and he had to sell a part of his products. His idea was to create a serious family brand and top-notch wines. His wines got some excellent ratings and awards such as a bronze medal in Bordeaux province in France for his Merlot and Cabernet blend.
One of the most interesting stories about one of the varieties of vine that is cultivated there is about Zinfandel variety also known as “Primitivo” in Italy. Nearly 15 years ago, vintner Mike Grgich cultivated Zinfandel in Napa Valley, California which wasn’t its country of origin. Grgich claimed that its country of origin was Croatia and that it has much resemblance to “Plavac Mali” variety of vine. One of the American institutes decided to check his story and upon coming to Kaštela in Croatia, they found vine that looked like Zinfandel from California but when they returned to the USA, they found zero connections between those two varieties.
Grgich decided not to quit yet and he still claimed that Zinfandel originates from Croatia. And he was right. When scientist first arrived in Croatia they picked up leaves from the wrong vine because Zinfandel leaves had intertwined with leaves from other vines. When they decided to check out his thesis one more time, they discovered that Zinfandel was actually the parent to “Plavac Mali” variety of vine and that is originated from Croatia where it got its name “Kaštelanski crljenak” after that discovery.
On this territory, Kaštelanski crljenak mostly disappeared during the 20th century because of a variety of diseases. Crljenak is not only fragile as a plant but also during manufacturing process. Despite all this, Krolo vineyard decided to cultivate it because they had a good feeling about it and it was supposed to be used as promotional material for their family brand.
Krolo vineyard had some problems with crljenak during the first 6 years but on its 7 year it showed some potential. Two years ago it showed its quality and last year it had fully yield and showed itself in the greatest potential yet.
Krolo vineyard is thinking about selling 2015 wines independently because that year was one of the best where crljenak fully shined. On the other hand 2016 had started pretty early for vines but during the end of April it got colder and sometime after that, the process of warming started again so it is too early to talk about this year.
Krolo wines are distributed in Bordeux, London, in a few cities in Germany such as Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich and throughout Croatia. Krolo vineyard is not focused on selling their wines to liquor stores and similar businesses but rather to restaurants and hotels. Their wines are being professionally sold since 2005.