Aiming for world-class in natural wine
Real estate developer and vineyard owner Vlado Magula from Slovakia makes a short stop at the school that gave him confidence to follow his dream and go into quality wines based on local grapes in Slovakia.
“Making wine is a very personal project for me. I’m so emotionally attached to the Magula-wine that it is difficult for me to do the sales myself, even though I am actually pretty good at sales. But with our wine, I prefer to leave this to our partners – distributors, sommeliers and wine professionals, says Vlado Magula, who makes a short stop at NHH where he graduated with a Master in International Business (MIB) in 2004. This is his first visit to Norway after almost 20 years, on a rare occasion of travelling for a tour of wine tastings in person for his Norwegian partners.
The alumnus explains his emotional attachement to the wine he produces:
“It actually boils down to the degree of my identification with the wine we make. I am so connected with the wine and express myself through it that I kind of consider it to be an extension of my personality. This is great for making the wine and also for talking about it and connecting with people through it, but not so much for selling it. Being too emotional and personally invested is not the best mindset when making business decisions or negotiating a deal, that’s why I prefer to step aside and let the professionals do it.”
The Magula Wine Estate was established as a family project in 2007, but the project is based on historical roots dating back to the thirties. Vlad’s great-grand father Joseph Husar was the first winemaker at the Magula Estate early in the 1930-decade.
Husar left the northern region of the country and headed to Rose Valley and the town of Suchá nad Parnou. He built the vineyard from the base, but during the communist era everything deteriorated until the Magula family again re-established and took up wine production in 2007. Rose Valley is situated in the southwest of Slovakia in an area called the Small Carpathian Wine Region.
“Our microterroir is characterized by the light, almost dust-like soil called loess. It is fertile and dry. The region is renowned for its red wines. We produce natural wine from our grapes, the same way the earliest winemakers in history made wine.”
Proud of NHH
Real estate development is still a the major source of income for Vlado Magula and his family with winemaking as an addition. When Magula came to NHH from Slovakia as an exchange student in 2002 he transferred to the two-year Master of International Business-programme (MIB). He also holds a master degree in strategic management from Slovakia.
“I remember being so proud when I was admitted to NHH. My fellow students in Slovakia hadn’t heard of NHH, they barely knew of Norway,” laughs Vlado Magula.
The NHH degree has made an important impact for the ambitious winemaker. It has given him both business skills and the confidence to pursue his dream of making the perfect wine.
“I always had a dream of creating something and being an entrepreneur,” he says and adds:
“When I was a student at NHH, I was toying with the idea of developing a concept for young people travelling that would enable them to share their experiences. This led to the creation of a mystery shopping service for hotels. Some years later this led me to real estate business and development and sale of homes in Northern Slovakia.”
Brand building in the wine industry
After making a comfortable living based on real estate, he could also start pursuing his long-lasting. passion: World class natural wines. And this is beginning to pay off. You will find several Magula-wines in shelves at Vinmonopolet. Norway remains one of the most important markets among the 17 countries on 3 continents where Magula winery exports their wines today.
So far, the production has been fairly small-scale, and the plan is to expand organically and grow slowly.
“Creating a brand takes time, and it involves bringing the story of our vineyard to the world. We are constantly on our way to something bigger,” states Vlado and adds:
“The master degrees from NHH and Slovakia has been fundamental. Without them I don’t think I would have had the courage to go into business on my own, nor would actually realize the opportunities out there. Analytical abilities and understanding the theory of what is required for success is imperative. In addition to this it is all about taking initiative and having the courage follow up what you believe in.”
“Did you enjoy your stay at NHH?”
“Yes, absolutely. The social life was fantastic, and the academic level was very good.”
War in a neighboring country
When Russia invaded their neighbor Ukraine, Slovakia and the rest of Europe woke up to a collective shock.
“What is happening now was totally unimaginable for me and is hard to process. It will change Europe and the world forever,” Magula adds thoughtfully.
Even though Slovakia is bordering to Ukraine in the east, Magula believes it is unthinkable that Putin will invade a member of NATO.
“I am convinced that Russia will lose this war. They are no longer a superpower, neither economically nor military. This is pure madness with enormous human loss and suffering."