National Federation of Croatian Americans
For Immediate Release -- April 12, 2002
Congressional Wine Tasting Celebrates 10th Anniversary of U.S. Recognition of Croatia
Washington, D.C. -- On April 10, over 120 attendees celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the U.S.
recognition of the Republic of Croatia, by attending a wine tasting featuring Croatian wines in the
Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. The wine tasting was hosted by the
Congressional Wine Caucus, co-chaired by Congressman George Radanovich and Congressman
Mike Thompson. The National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) and the Embassy of
the Republic of Croatia co-sponsored this unique event. The Embassy provided the Croatian
food and the NFCA supplied the Croatian wine and it was a winning combination.
In addition to Congressman Radanovich and Thompson, Congressman Dennis Kucinich attended
and pledged his support for continued U.S. assistance to Croatia. Also, Congressman Dana
Rohrabacher, a long-time friend and ally for Croatia on Capitol Hill, came by to celebrate this
anniversary. North Carolina Congressmen Walter Jones and Howard Coble and New York
Congressman Maurice Hinchey, were three elected officials who attended and enjoyed the night’s
festivities. The U.S. State Department was represented by Jonathon Benton, Deputy Director of
the South Central European Bureau and the American diplomat complimented both the Croatian
wine and the tasteful Croatian delacacies prepared by the Embassy’s Chef, Ivo Svircic.
Congressman George Radanovich, whose family originates from Brac, greeted those present and
gave the official toast to salute this tenth anniversary. The Napa Valley Congressman,
Representative Mike Thompson introduced all the elected officials in attendance and saluted
Croatia’s milestone anniversary. NFCA President John Kraljic thanked all the congressional
guests for attending and asked for further congressional assistance to support Croatia and its
economy. Ambassador Ivan Grdesic invited everyone to visit Croatia to see first hand the beauty
of his homeland. The Croatian Ambassador shared his appreciation for the support given to
Croatia by several of the important Congressmen in attendance.
There were several special guests of honor that included, Tony Butala, of the vocal group, The
Lettermen. This Croatian American vintner in Napa Valley is set to visit Croatia this summer to
review winery opportunities in the southern Dalmatia area. The Croatian winery industry was well
represented by Anton Katunar, of the Katunar winery. NFCA past presidents, Judge Edward
Damich and Steve Rukavina with NFCA officers Richard Lolich and Anne Pavlich helped pour
wine. Also, present was Tatijana Zuzul, wife of former Croatian Ambassador Miomir Zuzul, who
was recognized by Congressman Radanovich for her work on Croatia’s behalf.
The premium dry white “Zlahtina” wine from Katunar’s winery on Krk island was a big hit with
all guests. Mr. Katunar personally spoke with almost every person in attendance concerning his
winery. The vrhunsko “Plavac Mali” and “Posip” wines from the Grgic Vina on Peljasac were two
other favorites among the distinguished attendees who savored the wine from Croatia’s world
renown wine master, Mike Grgich. There were many in the crowd impressed to hear about the
Croatian origins of the Zinfandel grape and its direct relationship to the Plavac Mali grape grown
primarily on the Peljasac peninsula. Also, the red “Zlatan Plavac” wine (also, made from the
Plavac Mali grape) from the Plenkovic winery on Hvar was another real crowd pleaser. Twice,
Inc. from New York, provided the fine “Postup” red wine from the Dingac winery, in Potomje.
Robert Hutton, a wine journalist specializing in Croatian wines, publicly complimented the flavor
and taste of many of the Croatian wines on display and confirmed the world class nature of
Croatia’s wine offerings.
It seemed only appropriate that Croatian wine was in the spotlight of an evening celebration in a
Capitol Hill location where the continued friendship of the United States and Croatia was
acknowledged by both the U.S. Congress and U.S. government. Zivili.
For further information, regarding the National Federation of Croatians Americans (NFCA),
or this congressional event, please contact NFCA lobbyist, Joe Foley at 301/294-0937.