Top Slovenia interview: Maša Samec & Robert Ozmec

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You recall Styrian Slovenia the homeland of excellent Slovenian wines. What are the characteristics of the wine-growing region of Styria Slovenia and how does it differ from others in Slovenia? What are the special features of the wine-growing region where MARO wines come from?

Our vineyards are located on the Ljutomer-Ormož wine-growing hills, which are famous for their millennial tradition of winemaking and ideal conditions for the production of top quality wine. Favorable climatic conditions with many sunny days and a slightly colder climate than elsewhere in Slovenia, mineral-rich soil from previous Pannonian Sea, provide an excellent starting point to grow fresh and vibrant wines.

Therefore, our wine-growing district is characterized by higher sugar level, by fresh but mature acids and therefore pleasant drinkable and harmonious wines. Our wine-growing district counts to the 3% of the world’s best wine-growing locations.

How do you approach the wine production process together? What is most important to you?

The MARO cellar represents an exceptional partnership of two families, in which we have optimally distributed our work according to our knowledge and experience. We all participate in all decisions and our main goal is the best wine. In terms of such cooperation, it might be recognized as rarity in Slovenia, but we are proving that this kind of cooperation is possible.

It is well-known, that together we are stronger. The MARO wine brand represents a merger of two large wine families, namely the Ozmec and Samec families. Can you tell us how the merger came about?

Not easy to answer. Many coincidences led us to this decision, before which each of us were  firmly determined for an independent winemaking path. But it seems, that it was obviously intended – the surname SAMEC appears in both MURSA and OZMEC logos, which is the today’s name of the descendants of the MURSA family.

We are combining the knowledge of wine production with the knowledge of international sales and marketing. Of course, such merger requires a great deal of mutual trust and respect, as well as common winemaking perspectives.

Both wine-growing families date back centuries.

How has viticulture and wine production changed in general during this time?

Our ancestors always followed the quality and progress in viticulture and winemaking in the past. Already at that time, they participated in world wine exhibitions and wrote instructions for wine production and cellaring. We can say that they even conditioned the progress by themselves and passed it on to the surrounding winemakers and to their next generation. Their records can be found in archives, libraries and we all are very proud of that.

Of course, working with modern mechanization in the vineyard has become easier today and the technology in the cellars has advanced tremendously.

However, the same goal remains – to produce the best quality wine in a natural way, depending on given conditions of wine-yards and climate.

Both families pass on the heritage of their ancestors from generation to generation. What values, traditions and knowledge that your grandparents passed on to you do you still nurture today?

Excellent wine has its roots in the vineyard. That is why a good winemaker lives for this profession all year round – already with tasks in the vineyard to achieve the desired results in the cellar. This tradition has not changed from ancient times to the present day and we respect and follow it.

What is the difference between the MURSA and OZMEC brands?

The MURSA and OZMEC brands complement each other – depending on the grape varieties and later the sugar level of the wine, we want to offer the widest range of wines.

What types of wine do you produce in your vineyards for both wine brands?

These are high quality wines and selection wines: dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, sweet wines and selections. Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Yellow Muscat, Sauvignon, Welsch Riesling, Furmint and a few others.

How do you perceive the Slovenian wine drinking culture? In your opinion, do Slovenians know their wine and their many producers well?

Slovenia certainly counts to one of the excellent wine countries in the world. On average, people know Slovenian wines quite well, but not good enough the smaller winemakers. It is interesting that many of those winemakers are better known across borders, and their wines are not available in our country. Therefore, we think that your platform is excellent to serve for the recognition of smaller winemakers, who certainly do not lag behind in quality of their wines.

Maybe a difficult question, but can you tell us which wine suits you best at the weekend?

Really difficult question. Due to wide range of our wines we can choose the right wine for every occasion and for every dish. We are never disappointed. However, if we have to opt for wine without an accompanying meal, we would chose a glass of Pinot Blanc or Yellow Muscat, which spoils us with their luxurious bouquet and nice fullness.

In 2017, you started building a new, modern wine cellar, and last year you also equipped a sales and tasting area for your visitors. Are you planning something new this year as well?

In 2021, we plan to celebrate an opening of sales and tasting space of MARO cellar – if health conditions due to C-19 allow it. We want to present our cellar to the public, also in the form of interesting tastings.

Otherwise, we are full of goals and plans for the future, but they should remain a secret at the moment.