Importer of Memorable Wines from the New Old World of Eastern and Central Europe
Importer of Memorable Wines from the New Old World of Eastern and Central Europe

Negotians Vinarius, Korčula, Croatia

In what is now coastal Croatia, wine has been made since before the time of Christ. The tradesmen who shipped & traded wine to ancient Rome from islands like Korčula were called negotians vinarius.

Winery map

At a Glance

Combination of red soil, sandy soil and rocky soil
Pine forests, olive groves, and vineyards
Pošip, Plavac Mali
1 hectares
Marko Kovac in the vineyard
Marko Kovač in the vineyard - Credit Negotians Vinarius

This is a partnership between a roaming evangelist for organic farming and low intervention winemaking touring his native Croatia seeking out the growers who have always made these kinds of wines regardless of trend. He then bottles these wines, figures out the packaging, and then looks for partners like us. These are small productions that if not for this arrangement, would only be possible to drink at the dinner table of the grower in question. In many ways this is nothing new. Romans were purchasing wine from the Dalmatian islands like Korčula and bringing them back to Rome. These merchants were called Negotians Vinarius.

Petar Marinovic
Petar Marinović - Credit Negotians Vinarius

The People

For the past twenty plus years, Petar Marinović, now 70 years old, has never identified as either a winegrower or winemaker. Along with his wife and one of his three children who has decided to stay on the Island of Korčula, they have been raising goats, making olive oil, and growing a variety of fruits and vegetables along with a few Plavac Mali and Pošip vines. The wines have never been commercially bottled but kept in tank for home consumption and the extra grapes sold to the local COOP. In 2019 he met Marko Kovač.
Bringing the harvest to the Marinović cellar in Smokvica - Credit Negotians Vinarius

We first met Marko while attending one of the Karakterre tasting events in Vienna he founded back in 2013. This is the largest natural wine fair dedicated to Central and Eastern Europe and a rare time where huge swaths of our portfolio are all under one roof together. While keeping in touch over quarantine, the Negotians Vinarius project came up and the Marinović wines piqued our interest. Marko first met the family in 2019 and was so taken by the farming and wines that he decided to help them bottle the 2018 vintage already in tank. He then bought everything to show his level of investment and proposed working together on the 2019 vintage. They worked harvest together, solidified their relationship, and now we are extremely happy to be bringing in the inaugural Pošip and Plavac Mali of this joint venture.

The rich red soil of Smokvica - Credit Negotians Vinarius


With just over one hectare located below the village of Smokvica, the vines are treated with sulfur, copper when necessary, milk and algae. The vineyards are bustling with life, cover crops, and have over two decades of built up immunity and as many inputs as the island allows. Most of their neighbors still think they are a little backyard and or ill advised to farm in this way. Even when other growers inquire about switching to organic farming there’s a choir of experts saying that it’s basically impossible on Korčula - too much disease pressure and the native grapes won’t survive. Petar is one of these amazing hold outs that we are grateful to have found with Marko’s help.

Macerating Pošip - Credit Negotians Vinarius


The Pošip and Plavac Mali are both macerated for 2-3 days in the garage/cellar beneath Petar’s mother’s home. Open vat and gently foot trodden, the grapes are then pressed in an old wooden basket press by hand, fermented in tank and aged one year in tank. All fermentations are spontaneous, no temperature control, and no additions of any kind except a small amount of sulfur at bottling. All wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered from tank by hand. The only real difference in terms of Marko’s involvement is a smaller addition of sulfur. The goal is to someday perhaps get to zero additions, but not at the expense of the wine or drastically changing the style (extended maceration, sparkling etc…) as a means to that end. Gradual and meaningful change while maintaining the health of the land is the goal.
Negotians VinariusPlavac 2020
Red Wine , Organic
Plavac Mali;
Production of this wine does not exceed a pallet. Normally when we see young Plavac Mali we ask for something else to drink. The small berries (Mali=small), thick skins, heavy oak treatments, and too much residual sugar often make these typically big reds that need age. There are of course exceptions (see Miloš), but those wines are still best with age. Marko suspects there are some other hidden grapes at work. Maybe Vranac? Who knows, but the acidity that balances out the grip, ripeness and drive of Plavac makes this wine a refreshing blast from Dalmatia. Made basically the same way as the Pošip - 3 days skin maceration, basket pressed, tank fermented and aged. This is a rarely seen version of the most planted red grape in the country.

Negotians VinariusPošip 2020
White Wine , Organic
If you travel around Korčula drinking Pošip at every opportunity (we have), there’s a big range of styles. That said, the vast majority are made reductively, whole cluster pressed, fermented at low temperatures to harness the aromatics, and overall kept really fresh and bright. These wines are delicious and unique to be sure, but we’ve never encountered a Pošip like this to date. Harvested between the 25th and the 26th of August, this vintage received more punchdowns than the 2019. More extraction to balance out the acidity. Macerated for 3 days on the skins, everything was basket pressed into stainless steel and aged for 1 year on the lees. Bottled unfined and unfiltered by hand from tank. This vintage has a little more "Žutina" (aka amber/yellowness) than the 2019, but with the added bottle aging, is in an absolutely beautiful place.

Negotians VinariusPošip Coltrane 2020
White Wine , Organic
This is more or less the same as the estate Pošip, with the exception that half is barrel fermented, barrel aged, and then combined with the stainless steel version before bottling. Hand harvested looking up at the village of Smokvica, the grapes were macerated for a few days on the skins and then basket pressed into tank/barrel. As for Coltrane, whether it’s in reference to a young frisky horse or the famed jazz musician, we don’t know. We forgot to ask. Both explanations seem to work nevertheless. The barrel aged portion adds in some built in oxidative notes along with the levity and density of the lees contact. Full of energy like a colt, and showing the experimentation and balance inherent in free jazz.

Negotians VinariusPošip Tardif 2020
White Wine , Organic
2.3 g/l
6.4 g/l
Made exactly the same as the 2020 Pošip (3 days maceration, basket press, 1 year lees, all steel), what sets this wine apart is that it’s picked 5-7 days later. This is essentially the house style of Petar. Marko likes to pick earlier while Petar is looking for more ripeness, weight and richness. This is essentially his home wine in a commercial format. It’s also a fascinating look at how important the pick date is. We think both versions show something special about the grape and place.