Kis Winery Sremski Karlovci

Kis Winery Sremski Karlovci

Ancestors of the present day owners of the Kiš Family Winery in Sremski Karlovci had processed their first grapes and produced first wines as early as in 1830. The tradition of the Kiš Family Mystery lasts ever since – to produce high quality wines of Fruska Gora, which is blessed by God for growing top quality varieties of white grapes, of which the good domestic wines are produced. When tasting the Rhine Riesling of the Kiš Winery, it is evident that the tradition is alive and very exciting…

The history of the Winery of Kiš Family is nearly 2 centuries long, and very impressive. The wine tradition of the Kiš Family contains a number of memories, declines, degradation, incertainity, challenges /when grand-grand fathers bought the first vineyards in 1801/, persistence, starvation, viticulture epidemics –of which the phylloxera totally distinguished all vineyards of Fruska Gora between 1885 and 1895… Yet, vineyards were restored quickly and planted by more resistant grape varieties. The break came with the First WW, the short period when vineyards were destroyed, but much more suffered the population, especially the male population was degraded. The Kiš Family faced the new challenge, but thanks God, never gave up.

In 1931, Slavko Kiš was born as the second child of the Family. No one believed that just this member of the family is to continue the family business, and would not any moment dare to interrupt the tradition. Two years later the third son was born. In the Kis Family of that historical period, it was planned that two oldest son get education, while the youngest son should remain on the family estate to take care about it.  But, as August Šenoa wrote: „A man dreams, but a God decides“… boys spent their childhood peacefully. In the morning they helped in works of the house and the vineyards, while in the afternoon they run the foot-bag along the dirty road, which spread between the row of houses on the right hand side of the street, and the widely famous Chapel of Peace, set on the left side of the street. Like all children, they believed in miracles and nice future. While the oldest brother went to gain education, Slavko was gifted by a honor to harness horses every Saturday, and help his father in delivery of wines, from the loaded wooden barrows and robber hose, as the only accessory for decantation of wine. The road led through the center of Sremski Karlovci, beside the Church and the Patriarchal Residence, along the swampy shores of the Danube, across the bridge, to the Fish market in Novi Sad /Riblja pijaca/. Wine was sold in liters, and by this rubber hose decanted into demijohns of local tavern and inn-keepers, who served their regular guests, although there were 400-500 wine cellars in Sremski Karlovci, and all the surrounding cultivated land was planted by vineyards. The Second WW violated plan of parents, and the middle son finished only few classes. Followed the years of mobilization, starvation, suffering, poverty, hunger… In this period of the history of viticulture of Fruska Gora, there was the unwritten rule that a family could live well on their estate of 2 hectares of vineyards, from where it could harvest grapes, process it into wine and sell it. In the first 100 years the vineyards spread as far as the family could afford and broaden.  In the time after the Second WW, the success was to retain and preserve the existing estates. The peace that everyone expected, brought also the new rulers, and rules that did not support any private initiative, so the vineyards experienced another hard period of survival. Luckily, the family kept their lives and health of all three sons. The oldest went along his route, and youngest remained on the family estate, while Slavko had no firm decision, what life to choose. Slavko chose to work by rules of strict dedication, patience, and savings and spared money to buy land and start building his home, on the street side, only few steps from the present house, with the wine cellar in the yard. Soon the wife was here, and the girl Helena was born in short time, as the only child of Slavko Kis. The new rulers imposed the obligation to all vineyards to sell their grapes to the National Wine Cellar, NAVIP. Secretly Slavko managed to keep few thousand liters of good wine for his own consumption, and his long-term customers. The break of communism brought a new freedom for small, private wine producers of Sremski Karlovci, and the new era of their success came, which lasts up to these days. As Slavko had only one female child, and the wine growing and wine production always was regarded as the male occupation, the new wave of energy arrived with the son in law Jovan Crnković, who immediately accepted the family tradition, and tried his best to preserve it, and enhance it by his specific dedication. It might have been either the aromatic flavor of the Bermet wine, forgotten through time, or the highly reputed and famous wines of Sremski Karlovci, that this wine was served to guests on their wedding, in 1979, to have the forthcoming era strongly influenced by Jovan ideas. The harmony of tradition, knowledge and experience /in that time of grandfather Slavko/, and the enthusiasm and dynamics and energy of Jovan, resulted in various positive outcomes. At the first Wine competition in 1991, the Kis Winery was prized with gold medal of Novi Sad Fair as the best whine wine, which it kept for the next several seasons, when the Winery sent their wines for competitions. The followed numerous prizes and awards, on important and less important competitions. Initiated by Prof Petar Cindrić and Prof Vlado Kovač, the first Rhine Riesling grape vines in Fruska Gora were planted in 1993 on the Mater vineyards of the Kis Winery. Soon after, the first Merlot vines in this area also appeared planted in Fruska Gora. A moment to remember happened during the St Tryphon Ball, the feast of all wine-growers, organized on 14 February 1998. The grandfather Slavko and his son in law Jovan decided to promote and reintroduce the Bermet wine to all guests, which used to be famous aromatic wine of all wineries and wine growers of Sermski Karlovci. The experiences of all who tasted it were so positive, and marked the rebirth of this wine, which was previously produced in Sremski Karlovci only in small quantities in order to preserve the well-kept recipe, and resulted in production of bermet for the wider market and consumption. The Kis Winery was prized by highly professional judges with a number of awards on competitions and festivals. The success line seems unstoppable, when Jovan Crnkovic dies suddenly in 2006. The Kis Family goes through a new temptation, and the grandfather Slavko is again alone as the head of the family. Luckily, here are grandson Predrag and granddaughter Tamara, already ready to take over the responsibilities of the wine business, as they spent their childhood in vineyards, gaining knowledge and love for wines since their early ages. Tamara was to get married, and the future son in law Siniša Popov is already engaged in the wine business.

The business grows, as years pass. The mother Helena and Tamara are the main pillars and mail stones of the both family and the business. Predrag – Peđa is usually involved with grandfather Slavko /famous wine producer of Sremski Karlovci, 1931 – 2015/, in vineyards and wine cellar, while distribution of wines is responsibility of Sinisa. The life goes on. The original 3,5 hectares of vineyards, that grandfather Slavko inherited, is constantly widened. The new winery has been constructed, the wine production was moved to another location, while the old vineyards became space for reception of visitors. When the reception part in the new winery is completed, the old one is to become the Museum of viticulture. New awards follow, and in 2014 the real rejoice happened when the Rose of Kis Winery was awarded the best rose in the Balkans. At the same time, grandfather Slavko tells about the unprecedented rainy and dramatically bad year for wine growers, which finally passed, but badly hit the whole region. When 2015 arrived, grandfather Slavko visits its vineyards, as he did the whole life, and was greatly satisfied with quality of Chardonnay, claiming he does not recall such a prosperous harvest. He is satisfied. The Year is good, and grandsons are ready to take care about the family, the business, the wine and the vineyards. So, he can leave quietly, unobtrusively – the way he used to live. He is aware that there will be followers to continue along his path…. Slavko Kiš /1931-2015/ was the head of the family, the leader in all important decisions, anchorage in all serious situations, the soul and the spirit and the essence of an every single wine drop that entered the bottle. Every single though of his, and his every word were expressions of the genuine human wisdom. Slavko’s successors collected every word of grandfather Slavko, aware that there will come the times when his words would be possible to recall only from memories. So it is today. They remember grandfather Slavko with great love and honor, trying to preserve all what he unselfishly gave them. Here are some of Slavko’s wise thoughts:

The Nature made that right here, on Fruska Gora Mountain, in our Matej vineyards, the best white wines could be produced. If you want something good – this needs to cost much /when the new equipment for winery arrived/. If the wood was good enough – we would not escape to the Inox /when debated about the former way of wine production/. If you make a good grape, you will always have the good wine, as well. You must taste the bad wine, in order to know what wine is good. You can’t wash the barrow, unless you make your legs wet. Where else the water goes, than into slippers? The south needs acid, the north misses sugar, but we in the middle = have all. And now, it all needs and awaits to be exploited”.

At present, the Kiš Family possesses 14 hectares of vineyards, of which 11,5 hectares provides the harvest, while the 2,5 hectares are in preparation. Th largest part of Kis Winery vineyards are located in Matej area, the elite vineyards of Sremski Karlovci, which gains the highest quality of grapes. In the past, this area was called the Šećerni do /Sugar valley/ as in ths area grapes gained the largest quantity of sugar. Having in mind that this ravines directly crack down into the Danube River, making the superfluous moisture falls down, the extensive wind flows and exposition towards the “two sides of Sun”, one from the sky and another from the Danube, the quality of grapes is not a surprise. Besides the grape varieties and plants of the Grasac beli /the famous SK 54 clon/, Chardonnay, the Portugueser, the Franc, and the Cabernet Souvignon, here are planted grape varieties of Rhine Riesling and Merlot of Fruska Gora, which particularly make proud the Kis Family. The small quantities of Grasac beli are planted in the vineyards of Lipovac and Ćušilovo, while some of the Merlot and Rhine Riesling varieties are planted in the vineyards of Krstuševina.

Grašac beli is young, refreshing and tremulous grape variety. It smells on matured apples, table fruits and citruses, with some tones of white flowers, with juicy taste that lasts long. The Misterija suva /Mystery Dry Wine/ features thatched yellow color, and attentive and lavish flavor of table and citrus fruits. When sampled, it has a very refreshing, clear and strong structural flavor. The Misterija polusuva /The Semi-dry Mystery Wine/ is also of thatched yellow color, while of somehow stronger intense in flavor. When smelled, the table fruits with some addition of matured lemon and peach peel, and of a kitnikez. Chardonnay Kiš Wine is rich white wine of golden color, and a distinguished pleasant fruity flavor, with discrete fruit acids and a subtle sweet tone. The Kiš Rose Wine is rich and fulfilled with refreshing acids and a gentle, well-integrated flavor of sweetness, that within mouth provides fruitfulness, which lasts and is recognized long. For a long period of years, the Portuguiser was considered the highest quality among red wines of Fruska Gora.  The Kiš Portuguiser Wine features a thick structure and a dark-violet color, which was in 2015 within competition of 96 wines, prized with the Gold medal. The Kiš Merlot wine comes from the first plants of this grape variety in Fruska Gora. It features intense ruby red color, the discrete flavor and refreshing aroma. The Beli Kiš Bermet /White Bermet wine of Kis Winery/ proves by its flavor the diversity and abundance of aromatic herbs, with priority given to clove, cinnamon, bitter orange and pelin. This wine is extremely rich, lavishly spread within the mouth. The Kiš Bermet crveni /the Red Bermet Wine of Kis Winery/ features smell of dry cherries, cinnamon, clove, speculaas, vanilla and black chocolate, strongly felt in the nose, and repeated in the mouth. The wines of the Kis Winery are distributed and sold in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Austria.

The Kiš Winery in Sremski Karlovci organizes wine tasting, that provides visitors an opportunity to learn something about the long tradition of wine growing and viticulture of Fruska Gora and Sremski Karlovci.  The Story on wines and this reputed and diligent wine growing family continues proving traditions of people whose veins are filled with wines for nearly 200 years, along the wine tasting and food to remember – The Srem starter /bread covered with fat/, homemade bread and cheese, smoked staff, doughnuts with homemade jam, homemade strudel filled with poppy seeds, kugloff cake… Visitor to the Kiš Winery in Sremski Karlovci are revealed small wine secrets, that make the visit a memorable wine experience….