Donna Bulika wanted to use her passion to bring people together. She’s a real estate broker by trade but, on a trip to Croatia, discovered something she loved. Upon her first sip of orange wine in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Dubrovnik, she knew she needed to bring its tradition, and the light, full-bodied flavour of the different brands and varietals, back to Toronto.
So, two years later, Donna officially turned her dream into a reality. Inside the Library room (which is, appropriately, painted orange) at The Verity Club, she gathered a group of open-minded wine lovers to sample three orange wines, each made in Croatia, and enjoy light bites crafted by executive chef Lorenzo Loseto and the team at George Restaurant. Donna, dressed in a crisp white suit and fitting orange heels, was at the centre of the space, introducing orange wine to the intimate gathering and fostering a sense of community by encouraging conversations amongst the guests. The importer and owner of “Croatia Unpacked,” Tanya Schmitt, presented each wine by explaining and telling us stories that came with the wine.
Orange wines have been made for over 5,000 years. They are made using green grapes, but follow the traditional red wine making principles of macerating the grape juice on the skins prior to and during fermentation. This process creates wines of greater structure and complexity than your typical white wine, and with unique flavour profiles. These wines can open up the palate, and invite a broad array of food pairings. They can complement everything from red meats, to spicy curries, pasta and fish, bringing a crispness and lightness that you don’t always find in a red wine. As a result, Donna notes, “orange wine bridges the gap between red and white wine and can be enjoyed in all seasons.”
Donna hopes that The Orange Wine Social Club will host three to four events a year, and each will feature a unique angle centered around orange wine. The most recent event, held on May 11, offered three varietals from Croatia, specifically a peninsula called Istria (shared with Slovenia and Italy) and a historic region called Dalmatia. Two of the three offerings came from Clai, an organic certified winery in Istria, called Baracija Malvazija and Ottocento Bijeli. The third, courtesy of a small, family-owned wine in Dalmatia called Ante Sladic, is called Debit Oya Noya and, while the vineyard is not organically certified, it operates with all organic practices.
The event, Donna hopes, will attract open-minded people, those who appreciate new connections and crave a sense of social bonding that they may have felt was cast away during the pandemic. “I want to bring people together again,” she says, noting that events like these typically attract those who are open to learning new things, are curious by nature and excited to undertake new lessons and explore something different from the usual routine.
Tickets for the Orange Wine Social Club’s events are tiered, beginning at $100 for a general admission ticket. They can be purchased online through Donna’s website.
If you’d like to be invited to the next event, please ask Donna to add your email to the VIP list and be invited to the next event here.