Address: Planina 111, 5270 Ajdovščina, SlovenijaPhone: +38651660265Website: www.guerila.siContact: Martin Gruzovin; martin firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.comOwner/s: Zmagoslav PetričWinemaker: Zmagoslav PetričVineyards: 20 hectares, 5 cru vineyardsOther: All wines biodynamic and organic certified, wild spontaneous yeast fermentationWine tourism: 3 apartments and conference complex, restaurant
Guerila is the visionary dream of Zmago Petrič. As a younger man he promised his father, Jožef, that he would carry on his [family’s] winemaking tradition AFTER he had accomplished what he wanted to in business first. After a successful career manufacturing stainless steel and metal construction materials he sold his company to fulfil that promise. His hope now is to take local winemaking to a higher level using his fortune to do this, respecting both tradition and nature through biodynamic production.
Although the family had always produced wine for consumption in the local village, 2004 was the turning point where Zmago refocused his attention on wine. He researched sites and began planting the first of his five ‘cru’ vineyards in local traditional varieties. The vineyards earned organic certification in 2008 and in 2011 Zmago learned biodynamic cultivation from a woman viticulturalist. Biodynamic certification came in 2014.
The steeply sloped vineyards are exposed to constant high winds above the valley floor, where below they can reach 200 km and close the highway up to 50 times a year. Countering this, they were purposefully planted on a variety of infertile soil with in a series of protective SE/SW facing amphitheaters.
Currently comprising 15 hectares, five more are scheduled for planting in 2021. One of the most important vineyards is Minza, which was transplanted with a ‘massal’ selection (highly variated older clones) from his grandfather’s original vineyard. Eventually Zmago will plant an historically inspired vineyard of mixed traditional grapes for co-fermentation.
All are farmed biodynamically with cover crops and treated, to specially created, deep set, bio compost that sends root growth downward as opposed to top layered manure that spread shallower roots.
Guerila’s new winery recently opened in 2019. After applying for planning approval 10 years ago it took seven years of archeological digging to prove the vineyard and winery wouldn’t destroy an ancient church cemetery, on the hill above, which had been an important fortification against previous Ottoman incursions. Zmago’s middle name is tenacity.
The stunning new winery is an architecture triumph that commands amazing views over the valley below. It was consciously constructed from local materials, glass, stone and wood, all sourced and manufactured from around Vipava.
Zmago ruminated on biodynamic production, ‘Competing with producers making aromatic wine from aromatic yeasts isn’t easy.’ Although his wines use the same grapes, ‘they are much less obviously aromatic. Undeterred, Zmago believes his wine ‘represents grapes and terroir more accurately.’
Guerila is not only organic and biodynamic, but also focused on progressive trends like traditional styles, natural wine and amphora production. He has no tolerance for faulty wine making. His aim is for purity that represents the terroir. He commented that where in earlier periods his ‘grandfather couldn’t guarantee the cleanliness of his pipes because of technological limitations of the time. There is no excuses for this now given tools everyone has to ensure cleanliness.’
All in all, Guerila is an all-encompassing project that needed one person with a clear vision to manage the whole process from its beginnings to fruition. On all counts is a very smartly run, progressive operation, which in a relatively short period has risen to top tier of Slovenian producers.
Vineyards amongst the hills