Francuska Vinarija

Organic wine from Serbia in Chicago

who? what? when? where? why? how?

who grows the grapes? who makes the wines at francuska vinarija?

Estelle Germain and Cyrille Bongiraud are a French husband and wife with deep roots in Burgundy. Estelle’s family and their estate, Chateau de Chorey- les-Beaune, has been making wine for more than a century while. Cyrille studied soils,first in Burgundy and then in Alsace, Oregon and Spain before founding groups in Burgundy and Alsace (with Jean Schaetzel, coincidentally) with the goal of promoting healthy vibrant soils. Along the way, he worked for a year in the cellars at Domaine de la Romanée Conti.

For more details on Cyrille and Estelle, you might enjoy Decanter’s feature on their efforts.

Wine cellars in Roglievo, Serbia.

Cyrille and Estelle in the cellar at Francuska Vinarija.

what wines do they make at francuska vinarija?

Estelle and Cyrille are fascinated by and dedicated to preserving the older vines and varieties grown by their partners in the village.  These include local clones of Riesling, Chardonnay and Burgundac (aka Pinot Noir) in addition to Vranac, Muscat Ottonel, Tamjanika, Graševina, and Gamay “Petits Grains” which is related to, but not the same as the Gamay of Beaujolais.

At Candid, we carry Istina Blanc and Rouge, Poema, Obecanje and Tanja.  

Organic, Serbian Wines

when did francuska vinarija start? when might you open a bottle?

The grapes, the people, the cellars and the traditions of Rogljevo go back as far as anywhere in Europe, with historical records showing grape production for wine in the 3rd century. Tasting notes from the “Exposition Universelle” in 1890 in Paris indicate that the wines were known and popular in Bordeaux. Cyrille and Estelle arrived in Rogljevo in 2007 and the adventure of Francuska Vinarija (literally “French Winery”) began.

The wines are fascinating and food friendly, which has meant that they have been added to wine lists all over Chicagoland, from Quince in Evanston to Grace and Bascule Wine Bar in the city.   You will find the wines accompany a wide range of cuisine, and because our current offers are three to five years old, they are also ready to drink now.

Winemaking in Roglievo, Serbia pre WWII

where is the francuska vinarija?

On Serbia’s eastern border, quite near Romania and Bulgaria, sits Rogljevo, a hillside town comprised of 300 wine cellars like none we’ve ever seen. There are few if any homes as the farmers all live lower in the valley. The surrounding slopes are mostly limestone and seen through the eyes of Estelle and Cyrille, they look an awful lot like some wonderful parcels in Burgundy. After decades of studying soils across the globe, this is where Cyrille decided to create a winery.
Francuska Vinarija wines in Serbia

why is francuska vinarija a candid wine? why might you want a taste?

We met Cyrille and Estelle at a series of natural wine shows in France. What a wonderful treat to taste wines from such an exotic place and then to learn about the strict farming guidelines, excellent winemaking, and their dedication to indigenous varieties. These wines are made in a way that will appeal to anyone who has enjoyed small production, naturally made wines from Burgundy and the Rhone, and we are thrilled to play a small part in the revitalization of a forgotten, yet historic wine region.
Organic wine from Serbia in Chicago


how is francuska vinarija made?

All grapes are grown according to a strict charter of organic farming and harvested by hand, according to standards outlined and overseen by Estelle and Cyrille. Native yeasts guide fermentations and there is much care not to let process interfere with the fruit that has been so carefully preserved by this unique team of growers.

In large part, the reds are whole cluster pressed and the whites will see extended lees contact.  The winemaking philosophy mirrors what both Cyrille and Estelle have learned and practiced in Burgundy, France, working with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Francuska Vinarijia produces organic wine in Roglievo, Serbia.