‘Dedicated to family tradition and friendship’ is written on every label of the wines produced by Verus winery in Slovenia. The name Verus itself is Latin for true, actual, since, genuine and fair, which is what the three friends crafting Verus’s wines advocate in all their relationships and with anyone they meet. This might all sound a bit cheesy, but if you hear the story behind the birth of the winery, you understand why.
Three friends, Danilo, Bojo and Rajko, were working as a close-knit team for a large winery in Ormož in the picturesque Jeruzalem region of Slovenia. The winery was taken over by the grape-growing cooperative that supplied their grapes and the new management, none too keen on progress, decided to oust one of the dynamic young men. His friends then resigned in protest. The three friends clubbed together to set up their own winery; putting their family vineyards together gave them 10ha. Their friends, family and neighbours were also a source of support, contracting to supply a further 8ha of grapes, which are grown under their supervision, pruning, the whole process, right through to the harvest. A friend bought a building which was formerly a bakery, rented it to them, and this was converted into the winery.
They have no ‘Big Brother’ behind them, so have to do everything themselves, needing to be small, fast and effective in order to succeed internationally.
Fast they certainly were, at least in gathering accolades. Their first vintage was in 2007 and quickly drew acclaim from major critics, including Jancis Robinson, who in 2008 named the Furmint her wine of the week, saying all their wines are ‘beautifully made, precise varietal expressions’. Not a bad start. Jamie Goode also praised their wines as ‘fresh, aromatic and pure, as well as being beautifully packaged and well-priced to boot’.
Although they lament that ‘nobody knows about wines from Slovenia’ or indeed other Central Eastern European countries, except perhaps Austria and Croatia, 65% of their production is exported to 20 different countries around the world. People comment on their wines on Twitter from as far away as Brazil.
They also produce varietal wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Yellow Muscat, Pinot Gris and a late harvest Welschriesling. They use Furmint on the label for export instead of the Slovenian Šipon as they think it is better known due to the Hungarian Furmint.
They put great care and attention into ensuring that their wines maintain the freshness of the grapes, but also reflect the terroir and vintage; ‘each sort of wine we produce is like a new child born and hence a significant member of our family’.