96 year old wine maker, my grandpa

Posted by

Let parents bequeath to their children
not riches, but the spirit of reverence.- Plato.

History is filled with tales of triumph, conquest, challenges, tragedy and humility. I remember someone once saying that every generation tries to surpass the one before them. Makes sense. I just don’t know how I can accomplish that.

How is it that a man at 96 has more energy than I do on a Monday…or at random intervals throughout any day ending with the letter Y?

My grandfather, Petar Marijanovic, was born in Runovic, (a small village in the city of Imotski, Croatia) in 1922. He is the youngest of 7 children and the only one living today. Grandpa’s childhood home (with the year 1887 carved into stone marking the date of its completion) still sits atop the hill in the town he lives in.

With my favorite adventure buddies, Dad, Uncle Ivan, and Cousin Petar, we set off to explore the old house; and revisit the past of not only my grandfather’s but my father’s as well.

1887 obiteljska kuca
1887, Marijanovic Family home in Runovic, Croatia
1887 obiteljska kuca.2JPG
My Uncle Dr. Ivan Marijanovic, holding a stick poking around one of the rooms. You can see the date carved above the door on the right.
obiteljske stare kuce na brdu
The row of houses that the entire Marijanovic Family lived in. My Great-Grandfather’s house sits aside his siblings and parents houses. Some much older than 1887.
stara kuca na brdu
My Cousin Petar Vodanovic, walking past the family houses on the hill.
stara kuca na brdu.1
Another Marijanovic Family home, from the 1800’s.
1887 obiteljska kuca.3JPG
The oldest Family Home, built some time in the 1800’s.

Grandpa Petar Marijanovic was born 4 years after the end of World War I. By the time he reaches the age of 17, WWII breaks out.

Grandpa has said countless times, that he fought in WWII, because his older brother Ivan went to fight in the war.

Fighting back tears Grandpa says, ” There has never been a better man to walk the earth, and I have never met a greater man than my brother”.

Ivan (Grandpa’s Brother) was captured and killed in The Bleiburg Massacres. His body has never been found, and his whereabouts remain a mystery. I like to think that one day he can come home and finally be put to rest.

dida brat ivan
My Great Uncle, Ivan Marijanovic. Missing since WWII.
dida and antisa
My Grandfather Petar (left) with his Brother Ante Marijanovic (right) during WWII

I’m saddened when I think of the other family member’s who are also missing. Erased from  this earth, but never forgotten. I’m getting off track….

At the bottom of the hill is my dad’s childhood home. It’s not habitable (like that’s going to keep me away). I come and visit this place every year. I have been fortunate enough to bring my kids, so they too can learn about their family’s past.

stara kuca didina
Main house were my grandparents slept. The lower structure, with the red roof,was the work shed and chicken coop.


stara kuca
The pig stall, rests alongside the room my dad and brother shared.
Family photo. From left shown (Grandpa, Uncle Ivan, Grandma Iva and My Dad Ante)
IMG_20160717_144053 (1)
My 3 goofballs, standing at the front of my dad’s (their grandfathers) old room.
IMG_20160717_143155 (1)
Inside the room, my dad called home. It’s crazy to think he and his brother slept here.
IMG_20160717_143812 (1)
This picture shows the room my dad and uncle shared (up the stairs) an the wine cellar (door to the right)

I cry every time I walk into these rooms. It’s even harder now that I’m a parent and I see how it impacts my kids.

Going into the wine cellar is really emotional for me. It’s the place my dad was born. My poor grandmother delivered my dad inside this cellar on Halloween 1948. I can’t even put words to emotion.

konoba didina
Inside my grandpas wine cellar. My cousin Petar, my kids and hubby
grapes and wine
Grandpa’s Wine, paired with some of his grapes.


Leaving the old houses behind, I head back to the “newer” house. This is home that many a summer’s were spent. Playing with my siblings and cousins, running through the grapes, climbing trees and catching lizards.

IMG_20160717_142157 (1).jpg
My grandparents home today.
loza 03
The vineyards behind the “newer” family home. This is where I spent my childhood summers.
dida's konoba
Grandpa has White wine and Red wine. Filler’ up!
dida isprid loze
Grandpa lost in thought, as I ask him to share stories with me.

I don’t know the first thing about making wine. I can only say that nothing taste’s better than what my grandpa makes.

I will never come close to the greatness of the men in my life. The saga continues to be written and legends made, all because of the riches left by 2 incredible men. Not money but reverence. May they both live to be 100 !

I have never met a greater man than my Grandfather.

I have never known a better man than my Father.

Written in honor of my dad, who will be celebrating his birthday on Halloween.

Mara Vranjes

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.