Yesterday, Steve, our friend, Tom, and I drove over to Montenegro. We visited Radevic Estates, a winery owned by Tom’s family friends, Goran and Renee Radevic. Goran spent four hours with us, showing us around, telling stories, drinking wine and talking about wine and life. It was a delightful day in a one-of-a-kind place with a very special person.

The land on which the estate is built has been in Goran’s family for generations. He is a former practicing emergency medicine physician, and has lived and worked in South Africa, China and the Cayman Islands. He and Renee, an American, started the winery in 2007, after their home in the Cayman Islands was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan. Goran is quite the raconteur, and told us all about his life, his family and how he realized his life long dream to become a wine maker.

We sampled one schnapps, two white wines, three reds, a white port and a cognac. We all fell in love with the white port, which is made from chardonnay grapes and named Renee. I wish we had brought home more than we did!

Montenegro has rugged mountains and a gorgeous coastline that resembles Scandinavian fjords in places. The parts of the country we saw are relatively underdeveloped and it felt a bit like stepping back in time. Montenegro is not a member of the EU and its central bank is not part of the Euro system, although it does use the Euro as its currency. It has two alphabets, one Latin and one Cyrillic, though we saw several signs in English. We had lunch in a little restaurant in a rural area called Spuz, and the food was quite good and very inexpensive. Goran told us that the country really has no industrial base. He had to buy virtually all of his wine-making equipment from other countries. He said the culture is tribal, and the main sectors of the economy are farming and shipping. His parents met because his father’s ancestral land was next to his mother’s ancestral land. He told us how his grandmother had fought to keep the land from the communists after World War II. Evidently, some Russian officer came to her house and demanded that she sign a document relinquishing her land; she went and got a rifle and told him, “I know you have a pistol hidden under your jacket; you had better shoot me now or leave and never come back, because if you come back, I’ll kill you.”

Goran’s son, Luka, is currently studying oenology, so it looks like the winery and the land will stay in the family for at least another generation.