|A century ago Rogljevo was incredibly prosperous for a remote village in far eastern corners of Serbia. The wines of Rogljevo were to be found at exhibitions in Bordeaux and Paris. But today this region is poor and deserted. Suddenly a French family moved in to grow grapes and produce wine. They believe they have discovered a promised land, one of the top five wine regions in Europe. Their arrival sparked high hopes with some villagers - and great resistance and mistrust with others. Can Rogljevo yet again live out of its wine?|
At the entrance to the village of Rogljevo, in Eastern Serbia, silence and a large number of obituaries on the walls suggest that the life of this place lies more in the past than in the future. Older people struggle to make their ends meet; the young have left in search of a better life.
But the village knew for better times.
Before the II World War, Rogljevo had almost 1000 inhabitants, nowadays barely 80. “Negotin Krajina” used to be one of the most reputed wine regions in this part of Europe. In the late 19th and early 20th century, trade between this part of Serbia and France flourished. The wines of Rogljevo were to be found at exhibitions in Bordeaux and Paris. They were especially highly prized during the 20-year period when the phylloxera epidemic hit France. The village was rich and prosperous. But during communism, independent wine making was banned and after years of war and economic collapse of the nineties, the ancient tradition is slowly dying out.
And then – the unexpected: suddenly a French family arrived in the village. They were knocking on the doors of mostly older villagers and offering to revive the forgotten tradition of winemaking together. The goal was ambitious: to produce organic wine for international markets and bring back this place on the map of recognized wine regions. Some villagers believed them and joined the project, but many refused.
The arrival of the French brought a new dynamic in a sleepy village set back in time. It made villagers think about their future in that region. Poverty and unemployment forced most of them to leave and abandon the old winemaking tradition. But two foreigners incited some hope. Can Rogljevo yet again live out of its wine? Is there something they can do to reverse its decline? Maybe indeed there is a promise of better life?
The arrival of the French sparked high hopes with some villagers- and great resistance and mistrust with others.
This story may be another proof that in the Balkans geography is destiny – it’s a place where great potential fails to realize and all hopes sooner or later end up in disappointment...
Or, maybe this time, it will be different.