September 5, 2015, published in Cincinnati Magazine
by Michelle Sullivan
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANNETTE NAVARRO
In his 81 years, Kreso Mikulic has been many things: carpenter, engineer, Olympic gymnast, alpine skier, and now winemaker at his scenic Vinoklet Winery in Colerain Township. Sample the fruits of his labor—as well as local art and live music—at Vinoklet’s 17th annual Art and Wine Festival (Sept. 12 & 13). Sip a glass, perhaps buy a bottle, and implore Mikulic to share his life story—which won’t require much convincing.
When I bought this land in 1980, I was an aerospace engineer. I was the chief designer with my company, a subsidiary of General Electric. It was 30 acres, all woods and hills. I didn’t know I would build a winery. It was just an investment.
It’s in my blood, making wine. My father used to make wine. At 5 years old, I was stomping grapes. Where I’m from, in Croatia, if there were 16 houses, there were 16 wineries. My mother had 13 kids; I’m number 10. She always said God gave her 13 kids to help work the vineyard.
It started as a hobby. I knew how to plant grapes, so I thought I’d plant a few for my friends. The first time, I had about 50 vines. They died. The next time, I did about 150 vines. They died, too. I said, “Maybe I should get some books.” Then I planted 500 vines and every one of them shot up. The next year, I planted 1,000, and 1,000 the year after that.
I never thought I’d make a living this way. When I still had a full-time job before I retired [in 2000], someone would ask me how many people I had working here, and I’d say “Oh, about half.” Now I have 20 people. I sell my wines in 100 stores.
Ah, the mustache. You see, to have a winery you have to have character. It should be eccentric, something to remember. My mustache is part of my character.
I like to make jokes, but I used to be very shy. I don’t know when it changed. Maybe it’s the wine.
Read the Interview in Cincinnati Magazine with Kreso here
Local TV Coverage
Check out Vinoklet's local TV coverage on Channel 12!
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2015 Vinoklet Art and Wine Festival Hours:
Saturday, September 12th: 12 noon until 11 PM Sunday, September 13th: 1 PM until 8 PM