The story of FRTÚS BROTHERS
RETURN OF LOST SONS
Their lives have started in connection with the soil and vineyards to go away from them for long years and to return in a great style. Brothers Radoslav and Stanislav Frtús have grown up in the village of Podlužany near Levice. Their grandparents from both sides worked in agriculture so they know what to do in a field and vineyard.
"Naturally, we considered this work a huge load that time, because we were keen on football when teenagers," recalls Radoslav. The brothers played in the 1st junior league and thanks to trainings, they did not have to work so hard at home.
"Our grandfather was a chairman of the agricultural cooperative for 25 years, we had to have everything perfect. Our vineyard had to look like an English lawn, this is how we were educated, this is what we lived in. All winter long we went to rack off wine, wash barrels, thus it was as natural to work with wine for me again as to breathe." For some time, it seemed so that the brothers would continue in the family tradition. Both of them have graduated from the agricultural high school in Levice but finally they finished in a completely different business, miles apart from winery. Why and when have they returned to it? Like every season, also in 2008 they came to family grape harvest and then they decided to produce the first own wine. Radoslav explains: "When a man grows up, he fits in somewhere. But if he has a feeling for something, he does not even know why but he is attracted to it. And we have naturally returned to the wine."
WHAT A CHANCE!
In 2008, the today's renowned winemakers, Frtús brothers from the Frtus Winery, decided to produce own wine after the family grape harvest and they have distributed the tasks. The younger Stanislav was attracted by the work in vineyard and started to do it full time. Radoslav was interested more in the process of wine production because there had been many changes and he had to study a lot. However, he has remained also in another business (that he does not feel necessary to specify): "I am motivated by management and it is not really clear what I am going to do in four years, but wine is my hobby that pleases me, I am always happy to return to, I like to do and I can even sort of relax with."
So they bought grapes, stainless barrels and started to look for a way how to make their wines best. They tried new procedures and it seemed working. The wine was tasted by many people and their friends recommended them to enrol their first wine - Pinot Blanc to a competition of young wines in Levice in the very same year. "What a chance! The wine was awarded a Champion of the competition. Since this was an obligation, we felt that we needed to continue. We were motivated by the success. I always say that there is nothing worse than when you do well in your life. Then you need continue."
So they went on and every year they have added new varieties. "First we made five varieties of wine, then six, eight, ten. We were trying. Because of historic reasons, we did not know how a real Chardonnay or a wine from Mosely region tastes like. We had never produced such wines. We needed to learn them by drinking and I have to admit that we have spent huge money with my brother to find out how to produce them from our resources.
I AM MY BROTHER'S BROTHER
The name of Frtús brothers, known as a brand of Frtus Winery from Podlužany, has become one of renowned winemakers extremely quickly. The quality of their wines is signed by something what you cannot find in other companies - a brothers' chemistry.
Older Radoslav is rather a manager, founder, creator of an idea, innovator and winemaking fanatic. Stanislav is an enthusiast and stickler, a right man at the right place. Where he feels best is the vineyard.
"Each wine is born in a vineyard and I love to be at it, at forming the future harvest. And what's more, I am not closed somewhere in an office."
Therefore it was logical that Stanislav was the one who gave up his work in another business without any sadness and has devoted completely to winemaking.
"I have had several jobs but now I do what I really like. Wine has a soul, a story that can be told only by you because you stay with it from the very beginning to the end of its creation. And in our winery, really every kilogram of grape, every litre of wine goes through my hands.
The brothers meet once a week to discuss plans.
"My brother does not check me, he does not give me orders. I contradict a lot. I could not afford this with a boss, but I can with my brother," he laughs. And this is it. Different opinions, discussion, two minutes of silence, this is what is their wine made of.
"We have different opinions on some procedures, sometimes we compromise, but there are not so many discrepancies. Because what regards wine making, we are on the same wave and we like the same wines. "Each of us is completely different, but we can set a mirror to each other. And that is fruitful."
THEO DATES A GIRL FROM PESEK
Frtus Winery from Podlužany started its journey in 2008 very well for a novice. Just the very first variety - Pinot Blanc - was awarded to a Champion of a competition by experts. That motivated the brothers to continue. After eight years, they have some many wines with medals that we don't want to make you bored by listing all of them. However, you can find them on the company website. This year they sent their wine abroad for the first time. And they were successful also there, in the country of wines, in Paris. They have received a silver medal for Pinot Blanc from the prestigious competition. The brothers are happy with and appreciate each success, but if you ask Radoslav Frtús which award is he proud most, he will not answer Paris, but Ough!
"Wines I am proud of haven't won any medal, because we haven't even sent them. For example, Alibernet, vintage 2012, we had only 300 bottles of it." But I have to say that I am most happy when our Pesecká Leánka wins a gold medal. Because the grape is from this area and belongs to this region.
Pesecká Leánka is originally from Romania, but just in the surroundings of Levice it was made up to perfection. Why is it so amazing?
"Its character is very distinct. When you start to drink it, you can recognise it immediately. It has beautiful aroma, it's delicate, it inclines to flower, even muscatel smells. I have not found anybody who would not like it," he declares and continues: "It is somehow iconic for me, I would like to spread its glory to the whole world and I wish that Pesecká Leánka becomes a synonym of the Frtus Winery."
They have still one more ace. "It cannot be made every year because it is a cuveé, i.e. a mix of three quality wines. We can make one extraordinary wine out of them, our Theo."
Despite many medal awards of Frtus Winery wines, one of the owners, Radoslav Frtús thinks that it is not necessary to send wines to competitions. "They are assessed by experts there, but if the experts like them, it does not assure that also consumers will like them. Because a wine is an emotion firstly and it completes the current mood of a person."
As an example he says that when you are happy you cannot drink serious wines and recommends: When you are happy, have Leánka or a rosé; when you are sad, have rather a heavier red wine. Also his attitude to the wine production itself is not traditional.
I understand that some people wants to have it as a science, but wine is grapes, it will be made also itself. You really do not need a university for that."
So, if it is so easy, why the medals are awarded just to their wines? "Each wine has its own gene, but you can still feel the touch of a man in it. If two winemakers will make the same wine and follow the procedure, they cannot produce bad wine, but each will be different. Why? Because the other winemaker definitely will not make the steps in the same sequence as me, and this is the signature of the winemaker. There are many factors influencing quality of the wine. And why are we successful? To make a medal winner from a good wine, you need to have experience, make several mistakes, know why you made them and not to repeat them."
SOMETHING FOR LADIES
The wine completes the emotional condition of a person, says Radoslav Frtús, one of owners of Frtus Winery from Podlužany. Of course, regardless the gender. But it is known that man and women have various tastes. No tragedy, you just need to know how to advise correctly. What wines would be appreciated most by ladies? It will be white Pesecká Leánka, cuveé Theo, or currently very trendy rosé?
"Regarding white wines, I would definitely recommend Pesecká Leánka from our portfolio, because it is fresh, smells like muscatel and citruses and is great for summer days. A light wine, very good for drinking," recommends Stanislav Frtús and continues: "I would choose red wines because they contain antioxidants."
Red grapes contain them mainly in the skin and stones. As known, the antioxidants influence our metabolism, support red blood cells, cells, tissue, retard ageing and fight against cancer.
"So, like doctors advise, two glasses of red wine daily are welcome and beneficial. Thanks to drinking this wine, ladies will be beautiful, healthy and always in a good mood for a very long time."
Many women, but also men usually mix wine with water or, what is worse, with a cola. In this, Stanislav Frtús has a standard winemakers' opinion. "It is a sin to pour water or cola to wine. When I imagine how much work is hidden in it and somebody degrades it.... If I like a light wine, I would rather have a rosé or Leánka."
FINALLY ON THEIR OWN!
All successes achieved by Frtus Winery from Podlužany until now have not come, as a paradox, from their own vineyards. They were buying them for long five years because they wanted the specific locality. And as usual, many times there were more owners of the land so it took a while.
"Until now, we have been renting vineyards and we are going to plant part of ours," says happily one of the owners, Stanislav Frtús. "There are historical vineyards in our surroundings, one of them 30 hectare large, and we own almost a half of it now. Currently, it seems rather like rosehip alley, but we are going to clean it completely and prepare it for planting our own vineyard."
It will take three to four years until we grow a real vineyard, but it is worth it. In between, it will be like now: to rent and buy what is necessary. To buy an own vineyard is a question of a winemaker's self-confidence. Because at the beginning of sale in 2002, they bottled up 10,000 bottles, while 30,000 in 2015 and their plans are even braver.
"Our aim we want to achieve within ten years, is 80,000 bottles of annually sold production." An integral part of a bottle is a vignette. As Radoslav Frtús says, what a chance - this was not only about the every first wine, Pinot Blanc, but also with the label. From a classic and modern drafts prepared by a graphic, he has chosen the modern, even though he was the only one against the rest of the company. And it was a good decision. In 2013, it was awarded the most beautiful at the competition Vinum Superbum, organised by the State Veterinary Authority.
SOLD BY SPARKS
Currently, the high awarded wines from Frtus Winery from Podlužany are sold in restaurants and wine cellars. Because they are not for anybody. Or they are, but little bit otherwise. The company slogan is: Original wine for original people. This is based on the fact that each of us is unique and unrepeatable original who can find his or her original wine in the assortment of the winery.
"Our presentation is different. We are not pushing hard how great are our wines, that you should drink them all because this one is good and that one even better. No, this is not our style, because everybody can find something he likes from our collection. When I bring twelve wines to taste, I do not expect that our client will buy all, but he will choose the right one for him. Such one, where a spark jumps between him and the wine. Because that is your wine."
THE COMPANY SLOGAN HAS ONE MORE VERY IMPORTANT ASPECT.
"We know that our wine is not for anybody. People who like it are original people for us and we will do our best to create a relation to our brand and us as winemakers. So that they learn us, share the production with us and trust us. So that they believe that we produce wine with our best knowledge and skills, that we do not want to deceive him by anything that would influence the character of the wine - this is not possible in our case. Simply, we are looking for people who appreciate themselves and understand that we have put enormous effort from our sincere heart to produce the wine."