Traditional and famous MEETING G2 conference, which connects business people from Croatia and the diaspora, was held in Zagreb this year under the name “DiWine Summer”. Almost a hundred guests from 16 countries from all over the world gathered in the hall of the Croatian Heritage Foundation, as the host and partner of the Conference. Two attractive wine panels and a total of 15 top panelists and speakers made this conference interesting and atractive. The whole commendable and useful conference was accompanied by a few glasses of local wine and enriched by the promotion of excellent Croatian wines, and ended with a festive dinner, which was graced by the Zaprešić Boys.
At the very beginning, the president of the MG2 Association Antun Krešimir Buterin and the director of Matica Mijo Marić greeted those present, and the special speaker was the guest from Australia, Luke Jurcevic. Among other things, this successful entrepreneur and president of the Western Australian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce spoke about connecting Australian and New Zealand winemakers of Croatian origin, and one of them – Dennis Yagmich – sent a video message to the participants from his winery “Yagmich Estate”.
The highlight of the meeting was the panel called “Who’s who in G2”, which is already a well-known part of this Conference, during which all those gathered briefly introduce themselves to each other, in order to get to know each other more easily and enable faster business networking. This year it was led by the former president of MG2, Josip Hrgetić, and the first to say a few words about himself was the ambassador of the Republic of Austria to the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Josef Markus Wuketich, a Croat from Gradišće. This was followed by two extraordinary panels moderated by the editor of the wine magazine “Vinum.In” Dijana Grgić, with occasional refreshments with a glass of sparkling wine.
The first panel entitled “Croatia on the wine map of the world” was attended by famous and award-winning Croatian winemakers Mateja Žužić from Winery “Jagunić”, Boris Vuglec from Vuglec Brega, Mladen Papak from “Vina Papak Ilok” and Janko Kezele, representative of “Vina Kezele” “, while Juraj Sladić from Winery “Testament” responded via video message.
Papak pointed out that domestic winemakers have excellent wines, but we have a problem with quantity, and that’s why we need an association. As an excellent example of association, Kezele mentioned the Moslavina variety Škrlet, which had been neglected for years, and all of them were promoted independently. “We connected about 10 years ago, sales are now twice as high, and skrlet is more and more popular”, boasted Kezele and welcomed the recent changes to the Wine Law, which divided Croatia into only four regions, which will facilitate foreign promotion. Vuglec and Žužić added that our autochthonous varieties especially have a bright future, and that tourists coming to Croatia want to taste that autochthonousness. “Our varieties are wonderful, and there is no reason why the world should not recognize them,” added Žužić. Sladić said in a video message that our winemakers will never win the match of volume and low prices, but that they must focus on premium wines and quality. “We need to take the best, and from our autochthonous varieties produce modern drinkable wines understandable to the world market”. All the panelists agreed that Croatia is practically still an unknown country on the wine map of the world, and that as a tourist country, it must be able to explain to guests “that wine is part of our identity and culture, that we are a country of good wines and that each of our guests must try them”. . Croatia is making serious strides in winemaking, they concluded and said: “winemakers make Croatia better”.
In accordance with the long-standing practice of Meeting G2, at whose conferences business people from Croatia and the world always gather, the second panel “Croatian winemakers in the world”. gathered Croatian winemakers and wine experts from abroad. Mate Klikovits from the Mate Winery, as a Croat from Austria, and Bruno Alexander Gantenbrink, a German, owner of the Slavonian company Auric Barrels, which produces wine barrels from Slavonian oak, took part in the panel live in the hall. Three speakers joined the panel live, digitally with the help of Zoom: Ivo Jeramaz – head winemaker of the famous California winery “Grgich Hills” of our expatriate Miljenko Grgich, Mirena Bagur – owner of the American company “Croatian Premium Wine Imports” from Boston, which has been importing for several years Croatian wines in the USA, and Saša Muradori who does the same in Canada through his company “Croatia Unpacked”.
Jeramaz says that he is happy that the Croats continued to grow autochthonous varieties. “We cannot compete with Chile and Australia in the production of well-known varieties. The greatest treasure of wine Croatia is autochthonousness”, said the head winemaker of the famous winery Grgich from Napa Valley. Bagur is satisfied with the increase in the quality of Croatian wines, and the price-quality ratio is getting better. However, he believes that we still need to work on marketing and branding because Croatia is “unfortunately not yet perceived as a wine destination” in the world. Muradori from Canada also called on the association of winemakers and branding of wine regions, while Jeramaz suggested that American sommeliers should be invited to Croatia, because he is sure that they will “fall in love with our wines”. Gantenbrink, as the owner of the Našić company “Auric Barrels”, asserted that Slavonian forests, especially oak, are perhaps the best in Europe and that this can also help in the complete branding of Croatian wines. “Be unique, unique, unique,” Gantenbrink told the winemakers.
Wine writer and journalist Željko Garmaz also sent a pre-recorded video message to the gathering, who, interestingly, is not a supporter of the thesis that our wines must be exported. “First of all, they should be of top quality, which they prove year after year, and they must be a lure that will make tourists come to Croatia even more”, Garmaz believes.
Two wine panels weren’t all, though! “In vino veritas” is the title of the closing speech of the advisor to the Croatian Minister of Agriculture and distinguished professor from the Faculty of Agriculture, Ivo Grgić, who compared winemaking and viticulture to marriage – it is necessary to give a lot, in order to get a lot. “Croatia has the best country with the best people, and let’s try to cover domestic demand with wines first, in order to reduce imports. Winemakers should be ambassadors of Croatia and all that is beautiful. Tourists are looking less and less for sun and sea, and more and more for food and wine,” concluded prof. Grgić. Something completely different for the end of the Conference, which left a deep impression on everyone gathered was an inspiring story full of emotions and positive patriotism that brought tears to the part of the audience. It was told by a man who, with a Scots friend, became the first Croat to row across the Atlantic, and in the process not only defeated the ocean, but also himself, storms and other adversities on a months-long journey, equipped only with oars and a seven-meter boat! Croatian veteran and retired officer of the Croatian Army, Werner Ilić, told his incredible life story that began in Germany, continued in the USA, and has continued in Croatia since the first day of the Homeland War.
The eighth MG2 conference called “Divine Summer” was an evening that will be remembered for a long time. It brought new business collaborations and friendships, and for some, as longtime friends and guests testified, it will probably be a business turning point in their lives! Namely, many experienced their successful turning point precisely at one of the earlier meetings of MEETING G2.
The conference ended with a gala dinner, which in a mini wine lottery – thanks to the donation of Mata Klikovits and Luke Jurcevic – delighted a dozen lucky winners with premium wines from Austria and Australia. During the dinner there were tastings of wines thanks to our generous panelists. The participants were entertained by the instrumental group Robostrop & the CEO, and they were also greeted by members of the globally popular Zaprešić Boysi group. Saša Pleše and songwriter Marko Novosel told live the details of the cooperation with the Association Meeting G2 and the global initiative One Croatia – during the making of the video for their latest hit – the song “Jedna domovina” dedicated to the Croatian diaspora. At the end of the evening, the organizers of Meeting G2 did not hide their enthusiasm for another successful business conference.