Cracovians dislike changes. They have their habits, well-throdden paths, beloved places with good coffee or delicious donuts and favorite park benches. Certainly, they want everything to stay as it is. However, it turns out they love wine like no one else in this world and are ready to unhesitatingly change their everyday walking routes to get some of this remarkably sophisticated beverage. But when it comes to wine bars, there are not many of them in Kraków; they’ve just appeared on a city map during the last two years. This summer has marked the opening of another wine bar, a special and the only one to connect two cities: Kraków and Warsaw.
BARaWINO is a wine bar inspired by French bar-a-vins trading as Kondrat Wina Wybrane. It’s located in Kazimierz, one of Kraków’s popular districts where streets leading to Podgórze cross one another, where tourists flock into Kladka Bernatka (Father Bernard’s Footbridge), walkers head towards Bulwary Wiślane (Vistula Boulevards) and night party-goers sing their way to a dance floor on a barge moored on the Vistula bank. To put it short: Kazimierz is the epicenter of any movement whatsoever. Exterior walls of the wine bar are discreetly decorated with graphic art and a simply-designed signboard. A monochromatic interior in hues of gray, embellished with the bronze of raw wood tables, lures the eyes of visitors. Endless rows of multicolored bottles filled with high-quality burgundy wine are mesmerizing and make every wine lover sigh “It’s a paradise”. Sure it is, a wine paradise anyone can enter. Now, we will enter BARaWINO with Antosia Turnau, who’s recently taken her husband’s surname – Kondrat.
Text: Kasia Pilitowska
Indeed, I got introduced to the taste of wine a little bit earlier than I should have been. I used to spend holidays with my parents in various interesting places, often leading from one vineyard to another. We can say that I was learning to distinguish and judge wines somehow inherently. In Italy or France, once you’ve grown enough to deal with forks and wineglasses by yourself, you’re considered adult enough to be served a symbolic glass of wine. I was also the one to be treated to homeopathic portions of wine during wine tastings. So, apart from the excitement of being allowed to enter the adults’ world, what I remember from this period is a valuable, sensual, if not to say – organoleptic – lesson I was taught. For example, it turns out wines differ not only in color and not every wine has to be sweet. I was, and I continue to be, fascinated with being in places where wine is made. If the first glass of wine is brought to you by a person who does it with his/her own hands and when you listen to this person talk, the impression is profound. And it doesn’t matter that the wine you try may not be of the highest quality.
What you’re left with after such meetings is an intensive memory, often sensual. When you find yourself opening a bottle of this particular wine in a completely different place you instantly feel the scent of that day, you see the sun and hear the light wind gushing through vines. Sometimes, you recollect a salty taste in your mouth and feel a sea breeze in the air. All of it affects the taste and character of wine. Surely, it is the power of suggestion for in a so-called “blind test” only expert sommeliers are able to accurately name conditions in which wines are made. Nevertheless, a bottle of wine brought from holidays is better than one hundred photographs! Thanks to my parents, who took me on their wine journeys and turned a blind eye to my taking an occasional sip from a glass, I have always been treating wine as a special drink; the volume of alcohol is not crucial because wine does not serve to get you drunk. There are far better ways of doing this.
On the one hand, nothing, but I think my whole life has been leading me in this direction. Now, all the elements of this jigsaw puzzle fit perfectly but I could not have known that at the time. My education was a conscious choice resulting from the lack of choice. It’s because I was interested in lots of things. What I’d been taught at home was the conviction that it was possible to do various things: to sing, to dance, to paint, but that the basic and the most important value rested in literature. I was told that no matter what you do in life, you had to be friends with it. So I thought that if I didn’t know what I wanted to do, the Polish major will certainly not be the waste of my time. I wanted it to become a foundation for my future plans. And wine? There’s lots of it in literature!
Yes, I did. I found it in Marek Kondrat Wina Wybrane company where I became an assistant. In other words, I was a so-called “specialist”, a person of the lowest rank among employees.
They write all kinds of things in papers... I’ve never pretended to be a specialist in PR. Marek offered me a post in his company which was preparing to rebrand itself as Kondrat Wina Wybrane. He really took me into his confidence. Being guided only by my intuition, I tried to be helpful with everything I could. At the very beginning, the team consisted of a small group of people whose competences occasionally overlapped. We had to organize wine tastings and meetings with vineyard owners and winemakers. Sometimes we were designing all sorts of print ads (until invaluable Luksemburk took the task over). Basically, I had various tasks and I was learning constantly. And of course, I’ve got really engrossed in this whole “wine life”.
In our company’s wine bar. I live nearby so it’s me who keeps things going. The wine bar is a natural part of our company’s development even though at the beginning we were slightly apprehensive whether it was too early. There is a great difference between running a store and a wine bar. A wine market has been developing very dynamically, wine is more and more often sold via the Internet (is there anything more comfortable that clicking twice and having a chosen wine delivered to your house?). We thought that if we wanted our stationary store to compete with online stores we had to make it possible for clients to try wine at a wine bar.
No, I wasn’t. The awareness that wine is not others’ first choice encouraged us to open BARaWINO. We have amazing people working here. Individuals who know everything about our wines because they have been working in our store at Dolnych Młynów street. Only a real connoisseur of wine is capable of finding some wine gems among countless bottles of wine available in supermarkets. If you enter our store which specializes in wine you don’t have to be a specialist in the field. We are here to help you choose a wine you are looking for. It’s not over – in BARaWINO you can taste whatever we suggest you to buy before you decide to take it home.
We have more than 40 wines for tasting and glasses in three sizes: 50, 100 (a normal size) and 150 milliliters. So, in order to make the choice easier for our clients, we offer them a small glass of wine for a reasonable price (2 zlotys) and then, the more wine, the more expensive it gets. Besides, you can taste different types of wine during one visit in order to find out which one you like best. Our greatest ambition is to prevent people of thinking about wine in terms of costs. Once you have prices corresponding with sizes of glasses, money no longer decides whether you drink beer or wine.
Yes, we welcome wine lovers of every age! Fridays are corkage fee free which means that you can buy a bottle of wine and pay for it just like you’d pay in a store – without an additional charge. Young customers are certainly attracted by this custom. It’s been a few months since the wine bar was opened. Such places need time to strike root and “get settled” because Kraków is picky by nature. That’s why I will hide my enthusiasm for the time being.
It’s pure coincidence. The vineyard was established a few years ago near Szczecin and covers the area of almost 18 hectares. My father joined his cousin Zbyszek and together with his cousin’s son Jacek and befriended enologist Tomek Kasicki they decided to start making wine. Initially, it was supposed to be a hobby but it transformed into the largest vineyard in Poland. Marek Kondrat and his colleagues visited the vineyard at the beginning of its activity and were positively surprised. An idea struck Marek to invite someone who makes similar type of wine to the vineyard. Someone, who would give beginning winemakers some advice on “this and that” in regard to winemaking. So he invited one of the winemakers who cooperate with us – Frank Faust based in the Rhineland. Frank was surprised to hear that someone who owns so large a vineyard decided to make wine but he came to Poland and not only gave valuable pieces of advice but agreed to become the vineyard’s key enologist. In BARaWINO we have every wine from the Turnau Vineyard, four of them are offered for tasting.
I don’t have my favorite wine or grape variety. On these shelves I keep my favorite ones, but it’s a matter of sentiment, especially when I talk about wines I was lucky enough to see being made. New Zealand Pinots from Michael Seresine, a joyful Filoco from Marta Macedo from the Douro river, or an elegant, mineral sauvignon blanc from the Loire…
It is really important, to say the least! In BARaWINO we don’t have a kitchen but we do serve appetizers we buy from small-scale, local producers. What we offer to our guests are different types of Polish cheese, but also Portuguese canned fish (delicious!), good-quality olive oil, olives, obwarzanki, and bread from Kazimierz’s famous Piekarnia Mojego Taty. I love great cooking but there are times when all you need to drink your wine with is a loaf of good bread with butter or olive oil. For all the products we look at markets which are, luckily, more and more plentiful. We want to buy directly from producers, find products’ origins and get to know those who make the food we eat. That’s precisely what we do with wine.
Oh yes, the piano, you can have a try! I’ve been planning to visit the Academy of Music to search for young musicians interested in playing for us from time to time. I still can’t get rid of the belief I was taught at home that an apartment or any sort of place without an instrument is incomplete.