By Jo Gilbert
Published: 08 March, 2021
In celebration of International Women’s Day today (8 March), Harpers is celebrating the contributions of Croatian born Ana Ðogić, interim winemaker Plumpton Estate Wines and Winery Instructor at Plumpton College.
After graduating from the University of Zagreb with a BSc in Horticulture and an MSc in Viticulture and Oenology, vintages in Peru, New Zealand, California and Germany followed, before moving to full time positions at Schloss Gobelsberg in Kamptal and Weingut Umathum in Burgenland, where she was assistant director.
Ðogić told us who’s on her radar in terms of leading winemakers and what to drink to celebrate International Women’s Day.
You can follow along the with the latest on International Women’s Day on Twitter using the hashtags #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021
Tell us a bit about yourself. What sparked your interest in the wine industry?
I grew up in Zagreb, capital of Croatia, but my grandparents were living in a wine region called Plesivica, just 40km south of Zagreb.
On every visit to my grandparents we would stop to visit our friends who had vineyards and wine cellars. Of course, the stop was to refill my dad’s wicker demijohn. As a city girl, I had a blast running through the vineyards, playing hide and seek between the rows and catchers in the wine cellar.
But the most fun part was wine tasting. My parents would taste the wine from the barrel and I was always allowed to have a small sip. Adults would have wine glasses and I was given a ‘štamperlek’ which is a small glass for schnaps/spirits. Like every child, I was curious to know the difference between the wines that I tasted. As the years went by I knew more and more about winemaking and when the time came to decide what to study, I chose Agriculture at University and then my Masters in Viticulture and Oenology.
Why should women choose wine as a career?
The wine industry is a male-dominated field and that should not discourage women pursuing a career in wine. Wine is such a broad church and there are so many different careers one can do, it is important to choose in which direction you want to go and just stick to it.
It’s not easy, but when things go well it is certainly worth it. I do encourage women (and men) interested in making wine their career to sign up for Plumpton short courses or Foundation and BSc degree.
What’s your career highlight?
Working in California was the best vintage I ever had. I was a cellar hand at Fisher Vineyards in Santa Rosa and it was incredible experience, because of amazing team, beautiful vineyards and high-quality grapes. I would say that was a perfect winemaking environment with so much attention given to the details.
In your opinion, which female winemakers are doing really interesting things and why?
Most of my female friends that are working in the wine industry are sales or marketing directors, which is a great indicator of how this industry works. Working in Austria, I met Birgit Eichinger who has a small winery in Kamptal, Danube region. She really inspired me with her story of taking over the vineyard and winery from her dad. Her approach in keeping the tradition going by adapting to new technologies is very impressive. She has a daughter who is very interested in wine and hopefully she will be the next female generation of winemakers in the Eichinger family.
Anyone else that inspires you, male or female?
My boss in California, Adam Goodrich. He was a perfect combination of a friend, boss and college. His work was so professional, but still we had a laugh and it was such a pleasure to have him for a mentor. When I grow up, I want to be like Adam.
What really excites you currently about the wine world in terms of production and technique?
In the last four years I’ve started to work with bigger barrels from 500 litres to foudre of 1,700 litres and I am delighted with the results. Big barrels allow slow micro-oxidation and in combination with leaving the wine on its lees, without sulphur addition, results in complex, layered and structured wines. I think this idea is being used more and more by UK winemakers, which fits the wine style very well.
Any countries or wine regions you’d like to visit once lockdown ends?
While teaching online during Covid-19 I picked interesting topics to teach to the students. One session was on Georgian qvevri. Reading about 8,000 years of the history of making wine in that country made me want to go there and taste long matured white wine.
What’s your desert island wine and food?
Riesling and always with sea food risotto. It took years to bring my scampi risotto to perfection. I succeeded last year…the trick is in the fish stock.