Fall of the PZ Dingač: Sad story with a bright side
Pelješac peninsula is the synonym for the top Croatian wines. "Wine kingdom" of Plavac mali with first, internationally recognized appellation (Dingač) wasn't enough to stop more than 100 year old cooperative PZ Dingač from falling down into debts that consequently, lead to bankruptcy.
Dingač and Postup are among the best growing positions on the peninsula and one of the first recognized and protected appellations in Croatia. Both wines (Dingač and Postup) are made of Plavac Mali. Indisputably, they are the most valued wines in Croatia and beyond. Breathtaking vineyards of Dingač with triple insulation; sun and reflections from the sea and rocks on the ground, bush trained old vines and a site very unreachable makes this wines extraordinary.
Cooperatives are very common when the land owners and grape producers have a relatively small portion of land. Together they can make excellent wines on a larger scale. The same was with the Pelješac cooperative, PZ Dingač that grouped around 300 small farmers to make Plavac Mali wines independently and market them. The cooperative was founded in 1902. and had total of around 300 hectares of vineyards, from which 15% was on the most valuable positions of Dingač.
Dingač wine from the cooperative, was made in traditional way. Lots of overripe fruits, plum marmalade with darker fruits, spices and Mediterranean herbs with a dusty finish. Powerful and full of strength, these wines reached alcohol levels higher than 15% - very well integrated into full bodied wines. Dingač as we know it. If you want to try this traditional wine, we still have few bottles in our webshop.
Without any doubt, cooperatives play a very significant role in the modern winemaking world. Today we see transformation in producing higher quality grapes that is controlled and checked every time it enters the cooperative. To produce higher quality, farmers often need to reduce yields. Since they are usually paid by the weight of the grapes, reducing yields may produce higher quality grapes but also means lower incomes. Most of the independent wine growers in every big European wine country belong to a cooperative and make their own label on the side.
Dingač cooperative had members that hold very old and traditional vineyards of Plavac Mali, divided by the stone walls, very common in coastal Croatia. Some of the members have unique positions for growing Plavac mali, inherited by their great-great grandfathers. What a legacy, one could point out, these is a cultural heritage worth protecting. The cooperative was recognizable by the trademark of the Dingač, donkey on the label.
Since the vineyards were once accessible only by crossing over the hill that divided steep Dingač positions and the village of Potomje, donkeys played crucial role in farming this area. Growing grapes and harvesting, before the tunnel was dug up, were impossible without the help of donkeys and horses.
Despite the growth of almost all of the independent wine producers on Pelješac, world recognition of Plavac mali and historical growing areas of Dingač and Postup, the cooperative PZ Dingač continued with losses that lead to bankruptcy.
The first time in Croatian history, not only the cooperative assets will be on sale, but also abundant archive of quality Plavac mali wine that is now stored inox vessels. One million liters of Plavac mali from PZ Dingač will be found on sale in the following months. Some speculate that price could go as low as one (1!) euro per liter. Hopefully, that income will help the cooperative to pay off the small farmers that haven’t received payment for their grapes in more than a few years.
Sad story could have a bright side. Small wine producers from this area are gaining more and more recognition on the market and independent labels are what most consumers are looking for, when reaching to Plavac mali wines. The wine kingdom of Pelješac, attracts foreign investors that are also planting Zinfandel variety on this unique ground, latest coming from Benmosche family
Pelješac has so much to offer, regarding wines. From smaller producers, that make cult Croatian wines to high end, modern wineries that offer fine dinning experience. On the peninsula you can visit everything, from the Miloš family wine cellar, located beneath the house they actually live in, to a large scale wineries, modernized and full of equipment like the Saints Hills winery.
The Dingač will never lose its position and reputation on the market. Recognizable in our eyes and looked for when we are in search of that special red wine, the offer has never been wider. In our webshop, we offer around 10 Dingač red wines and looking forward in presenting you new and noteworthy producers from this area. We are sure that with the fall down of the PZ Dingač cooperative only means we will have some new and independent producers on the market, worth exploring.
Find out more about Dingač here.
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