NAME: Dušica Šibav
CITY: Fojana, Dobrovo - Goriška brda
BACKGROUND: University education in agronomy engineering
ACTION/SECTOR: Agriculture sector
POSITION: Head of the entire process, tastings, sales
ORGANISATION: Winery Vinarstvo Šibau
My Background and Career
Looking back now, my biggest school was the nature that is really generous here in the heart of Goriška Brda region: sunlit vineyards and orchards, warm climate, tranquility and clean air. Therefore, it is logical that the winery has been present in our lineage for more than five generations.
As the youngest child in the family, I graduated under prof. Šikovec from winemaking at the University of Ljubljana in 1990. With my expertise, I ennobled traditions and my family's experiences, which my father, who was then the head of the farm, personified. On my initiative, we started to bottle the wine and we started developing a boutique wine production under our own brand Šibau. Keeping the entire production of grapes and wine, I completely took over after my father's retirement in 2003.
Since then, I lead and participate at all stages of grape production – from planting, pruning, green works, protection, wine cellars to the final sale. My approach is "less is more" – wine is authentic, and nursed in harmony with nature. For some years now, people from California and some European countries are drinking it.
In 25 years, there have been many challenges, and looking back, I learned a lot from both bright and dark moments. It is a challenge to be a woman in a predominantly male profession. My expertise was of great help, because there are not many winemakers with a university degree, as well as the talent of good olfactory identification of wine (perception of smell and taste). As well as "knowing my roots": my natural features and the knowledge I have received from my father.
Of course, working in the family business brings specific challenges – from intergenerational differences to different views of the future. Through this, I learned dialogue, respect for different perspectives, and finding my own way. One of the factors of my success is that I have never followed the wine fashion of the moment, but I followed my call – cultivation of grapes and wine based on natural, local conditions. Through the observation of nature, I developed a feeling for working with wine: for example, knowing when the grapes are ripe (you can do all kinds of chemical analyzes, but a real maturity is defined by sense and taste, which I cultivated through long years of experience as well as talent and the love of work).
There is great competition in winemaking; Slovenia is almost non-existent on the world map of wine making. The small size of both Slovenia and my farm is becoming an advantage, because people are fed up with impersonal products and increasingly appreciate the authenticity of products and relationships, so small boutique farms are again gaining in value.
About finding the balance between work and family: as a woman and a mother, my relationship with my child is very important and fulfills me, and for me there was never a dilemma. I adapt my work schedule easily because for me my daughter comes first – even if that means a little less business.
In my experience, success is a result of integration and upgrading of diverse skills and competencies: in my case, the ability of learning from nature, and having the modern vineyard professional knowledge; understanding the benefits of the local environment and openness to constantly spread my horizons. Personal qualities such as talent for identifying the scent and taste of the wine, and interpersonal skills of creating partnerships at all levels – with colleagues, customers, dealers. Knowing the whole process – from planting the vine to sales; and at the same time having the attention to details that build the desired quality. Good organization and hard work – and the right amount of creativity. In order to understand trends and international connections knowledge of languages is also useful; in my case, English, Italian, Serbian and Croatian.
The essence of all is the passion for work; for the production of wine and of also how to explain its value to others. Among the most precious moments of my work is the presentation of wine: when talking about wine, words just pour out of me, and I see people listen to me with interest. Through in-depth discussions, we weave ties, warm up the atmosphere and together we discover the beauty of wine.
In general: In entrepreneurship it is necessary to know the whole process, believe in yourself and in your mission, set goals and persevere, be creative and build human relationships based on authenticity, trust and partnership.
Hints & Tips
I find strength primarily in myself: It took me a lot of time to find out exactly what I want. For me specifically: what type of wine I want to produce and who would appreciate it (who is my ideal client: the people who care for nature and true, pure relationships). Once you know what you want, find like-minded people with whom you have a similar path and you support each other.
In short: follow the rules of the game – at the same time, have the courage to add your sincerity and authenticity. Then follow this path.
In entrepreneurship, women add that missing bit: heart; sensitivity to surroundings - people, nature; the joy of co-operation; softness, beauty. Through work, we give meaning to ourselves, we grow personally, and we support each other in development.
From my vineyard point of view: what nature teaches me is to identify natural cycles and value of every period – from the lush nature to bare trees. In that way, work and life also have its own rhythm: from periods of intense activity to reflection and regeneration. It is a true art, craft and charm to recognize when it is time for what, and what value each cycle brings.