The story commences in the centuries-old village of Donji Vidovic where the youngest of the Dominic family, shattered and tormented by war and German invasion, decide their future lies elsewhere. The four brothers, each with just a suitcase, embark on a 40-day sea journey of heartbreak and hope to the strange and distant land of Australia.
On arrival in Melbourne, three of the brothers, Dragutin, Joseph and Michael, are filled with memories of the fields and small vineyards of home and again immediately drawn to the land – this time by the Riverland wine region of South Australia and its similarity to the terrain around their Croatian home village.
The first decade was backbreaking, with blood, sweat and tears aplenty, but hope sprung eternal and was further nourished by the young family Dragutin now had. He bought a piece of land in need of serious attention, followed by a small red tractor that worked from dusk to dawn as he carved out his first Riverland vineyard. With rows of Shiraz, Gordo and Mourvedre, he was invited to join the notable list of suppliers to G Gramp and Son, forerunners to Orlando Wines.
More land was acquired and transformed into vineyards, Chardonnay and Cabaret varieties were added, the Shiraz crop was expanded, scientific methods were introduced, and irrigation moved from simple canals and flooding to sophisticated monitored drip irrigation.
A new chapter in the family history dawned when son Brian took over the Riverland vineyards in 1992. A visit to the London Wine Fair in 2004 and a chance meeting with a Swedish importer keen to add Australian wines to his portfolio propelled Brian into the winemaking realm, with his first wine released later that year. The Dominic Hidden Rock Petit Verdot Cabernet Sauvignon soon became one of the largest Australian wine labels in Scandinavia.
Today, Dominic Wines products – drawing on fruit from the company’s Riverland vineyards and complemented by grapes from 42 dedicated growers across South Australia – can be found in the UK, across Europe and in Canada and China.
The Dominic Wines story has now extended to the fourth generation, with Brian’s son Isaac currently serving his apprenticeship in the vineyards.