Kreso Mikulic: Master of Wine and Mustaches

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.
Kreso Mikulic
Kreso Mikulic

Photograph by Annette Navarro

as told to Michelle Sullivan

→ “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.”

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