Wine & More

Saints Hills Ernest Tolj – Dingač Wine that makes Child’s Christmas wish come true

We will tell you the story of Dingač – the most appreciated appellation in Croatia. Better yet, we will tell you a story about a Saint-like winery that decided to make children’s wishes come true: Saints Hills

As you already know, the Plavac Mali variety has been grown in the Dingač appellation for centuries, and, to this day, it is known to be the most expensive grape, giving the vineyard owners an opportunity to send their kids to expensive schools in Zagreb or abroad.

This truly amazing place, where this grape variety can give its best, is still a wonder of winemaking philosophy. It is a small village, with very steep vineyards which can only be cultivated by hand, meaning no machine can get into the terraces overviewing the sea.

The yields are, naturally, very small, giving just a little under half a kilo per vine. If the grape wasn’t a pure gift from God, no fool would ever do such hard work for such a little yield. However, the reward is enormous.

Wine from this appellation tells a story of terroir: the feet of the vineyard soak in the beautiful sea, while the stony chest and head absorb the benefits from the sun and wind. This vineyard is also special for its composition of stony land, which is different from any other appellation in Croatia.

The land consists of red soil, limestone and a lot of quartz stone, which can reflect sun back onto the plant. Also, the land is able to preserve little lakes of water deep under the surface, thus saving the vines in the long dry Dalmatian summers.

This is where the Saint Hills winery started to make wine. As they are wine lovers, but not oenologists, they, alongside with their team, wanted a piece of advice from one of the most respected and most successful oenologists in the world – Michel Rolland.

Ernest, the owner, contacted him, knowing this could be a mission impossible, and he had him visit them. It turned out to be a perfect match – once Rolland felt the passion, saw the potential, the beauty and the quality of the grapes – he was in!

From that point until now, they learned a lot from him, not only on the winemaking subject but also on the subject of worldwide taste for the fine wines. They can proudly call him their friend and consultant.

Once mastering the winemaking philosophy, the winery was in need of proper packaging also, which needed to be something that would represent them and their wine in the best possible way. They needed a designer that would be able to feel the thrill of that place and truly understand their art inside the bottle.

They were lucky enough to find Mary Lewis from Lewis-Moberly, an awarded designer from London. Once they all met, and she saw Dingač, no words were needed. The art that she presented on the bottle says it all.

As they were making their Dingač, they learned that sometimes they get something that is even more special and that makes magic in the barrel. It was a very small quantity of wine and they vinified it separately, only to save it under a special name – Ernest Tolj Dingač.

This wine is truly personal, and, for them, it has no price. Each berry that got into the barrel went through their fingers, and these particular berries decided to perform wonder. Only a few hundred bottles of this pure love are produced each year, and they decided to share it with the world.

The Ernest Tolj Dingač became a humanitarian project. Tolj family wanted it to enter the market the only way possible, with a mission to help the ones that can´t help themselves. They organized a humanitarian auction, and all the proceeds were given to children in need.

Since the auction finished successfully that first year, they decided to make a tradition out of it, so they repeat it each year around Christmas and give all the profit from this wine to different homes for children without proper parental care.

So, if you truly want to get into the Christmas giving spirit, taste this truth in the bottle and know that by doing so, you are possibly making a child’s Christmas wish come true. 🙂

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