Winery of the Month Series: Gonc
This month we’re taking a journey into one of Europe’s most distinctive, ancient, and underrated wine regions, Slovenia, and we’re taking it through the eyes of one of it’s young rising star winemakers, Peter Gonc of Gonc winery. When people think of European wine they probably don’t first think of Slovenia but the nation has been producing distinctive wines for as long as any other European nation and they’ve been doing it in a unique fashion with their own varietals the whole time. The nation of Slovenia is only composed of 2 million people, making the country both small and quiet rural. It’s bordered by Italy and it’s mountains to the west, Austria and it’s rolling hills to the north, Croatia to the south, and Hungary to the east. The region the Gonc winery operates in surrounds the small town of Ptuj close to the Hungarian border and a mere two hour drive south from the famed Austrian wine region of Burgenland. Here the climate is cool throughout most of the year, though there are notable heat spikes in the summer, limited rainfall, and very intense, long, cold winters, thus making the environment perfect for the kind of wines they produce at Gonc.
Established in 1936 by Peter’s grandfather in the town of Dubrovnik, Slovenia, the Gonc winery seemed to be doomed from the start. The occupation of Slovenia by the Germans during World War II put an abrupt stop to the Gonc family’s dream of having their own winery. The family fled to the city of Ptuj where Peter’s grandfather began work as a winemaker at the famous Ptujska Klet, now known as Pullus, Slovenia’s largest winery. Peter’s father would inevitably work here as well until he set out to reclaim the family’s birthright and reestablish the Gonc winery in Ptuj. With the coming of age of Peter, now only in his mid 20s, the Gonc winery was reborn two generations later.
What amazes us about Peter is the fact that he is entirely self taught as a winemaker. We’re impressed that with only a handful of harvests under his belt he’s been able to produce wines of depth and place in a clean style with little to know professional know how. His down to earth and humble attitude around what he does is equally impressive, as anyone else in such a position in California would presumably be acting like god’s gift to wine, a rock star, or savant. He also cares deeply about the vineyard and the process itself, dedicating himself to the production of natural wines from organic and sustainable vineyard sites. He believes in native yeast fermentations and resisting the temptation to manipulate wines with the litany of chemical options available to the modern winemaker. He is also an experimental winemaker, choosing to play with skin contact, clay vats, barrels of various sizes and oak types. When we met Peter we asked him how many different wines he made and not even he could give us a clear count. The winery is full of his numerous experiments each one weirder and more exciting than the next and while they don’t always work out, his passion for discovery and innovation makes the wines exhilarating to experience.
This month we’re happy to present to you four wines from his collection, all delicious, and all expressive of Slovenia as a terroir. For the month of July, come by and experience the wines of the Gonc family and get them for 10% off to boot.
ON SALE TROUGH THE MONTH OF JULY