Slavica Todić: The real joy in winemaking lies in the entire journey—from watching the vines in different seasons, understanding their requirements, to crafting wine that narrates a story

Our journey through the vibrant world of the wine industry brings us to Slavica Todić, a devoted winemaker and professor from Serbia. Steering the course at Doja Winery, Slavica blends her deep academic insights with practical winemaking to produce exceptional wines that echo the rich traditions of Serbian viticulture. Her leadership and educational efforts are shaping future vintners and enriching the wine community. Join us as we explore her passionate commitment to winemaking and education in our latest interview.


What is wine for you? 

Wine is part of our tradition, our family story, a family business, something around which our family has gathered. Additionally, for me, it’s an endless source of research. Wine demands great dedication, subtly infiltrating every aspect of your life, and at some point, you realize that you organize and adjust your private life according to the rhythm of the grapevine. Wine reflects everything that happens in the vineyard and the cellar. It’s vibrant, different from year to year, with a strong reflection of the vintage and terroir. In any case, I observe and experience it from many different aspects.


How did you enter the wine industry? 

I studied at the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Belgrade. After graduating, I stayed at the faculty as an assistant in the field of viticulture, and since then, for over three decades, I have been professionally dedicated to the grapevine, grapes, and wine. As a professor of viticulture, I educate young people for the wine industry, engage in scientific research, design vineyards, and in the last 15 years, I have had the opportunity to work as a grape and wine producer in our family winery.


What is your philosophy in making wine, and how is it reflected in your product?

I always emphasize that authenticity and quality of wine originate in the vineyard. Winemaking starts in the vineyard and ends in the cellar. I believe this is known to all serious wine producers, and I firmly believe it is the only correct approach to producing quality and authentic wines. I strive for my students to understand this approach and the importance of the viticultural aspect in winemaking.

This philosophy is present in our winery. We pour significant resources into vineyards, from selecting the site, appropriate variety/rootstock combinations, detailed planning, and establishment of vineyards. We insist on timely and efficient implementation of measures in the vineyard because the vineyard, like time, waits for no one.  Vine growers bear great responsibility and acknowledgment for creating quality wines both in good and less favorable years. After grape harvesting, oenologists take over this responsibility. Judicious cellar process ought to contribute to the expression of grape quality and the local rerroir in the produced wine. And nothing more than that.

It is essential that there is a good cooperation between vine growers and oenologists throughout the season, right up to the decision on the timing of harvest. It’s very important to us that we have “found” ourselves with the oenologist in terms of winemaking philosophy. Our oenologist has an unpretentious approach to winemaking, feels the grapes and terroir, and has the knowledge to allow the wine to develop and live its life with as little intervention as possible. Thus, our wines carry a recognizable authenticity that comes from the specificity of the climate in which the vineyards are located.


How important do you consider education and training in the wine industry, and are there any special programs for women?

Education is extremely important in every profession and must be continuous. Viticulture and winemaking are disciplines that are constantly evolving, so a good viticulturist and winemaker must keep up with new knowledge, technological solutions, and constantly seek ways to produce healthy and high-quality grapes and wine. It is essential for vine growers and winemakers to travel extensively, gather experiences from other winemakers, and think about how to improve grape and wine quality in their winery and make production as economical as possible. They need to have solutions for both good and less favorable years and make the best out of each year. This is were knowledge and experience are crucial.

There are no specific programs targeted at women in the wine industry, but at the University of Belgrade, at the initiative of the wine sector, a one-year master’s program Viticulture and Enology was established four years ago. In addition to theoretical classes and exercises, students are sent for practical training in various wineries. Some of the students, after completing their master’s studies, stay to work in those wineries. This partially solves the problem of the lack of skilled personnel in wineries. These programs normally have a good gender balance.

The wine sector in Serbia is rapidly developing, especially in the last decade: the number of wineries is growing, and many have women oenologists, educated in Serbia or abroad. Women’s interest in involvement in the wine business is increasing, and they are very successful in various segments of the wine sector: as vineyard managers, winemakers, marketing managers, sommeliers, wine judges, founders, or presidents of Wine Academies, etc.


What advice would you give to young women who want to enter the wine business?

Do not fear the unknown. Enroll in an educational program in this field. To gain confidence, which is essential for making the right decisions, you need both knowledge and experience, neither of which comes overnight. So, my message is: be patient and persistent, educate yourself, visit wineries, work vintages in different winaries.

Each new harvest is another brick in the wall of confidence. Read as much as possible and stay informed about developments in the wine industry. Talk to women in the wine business to hear their experiences. Be prepared to work hard and not be afraid of the challenges, of which there are many. The good news is that the wine will repay you manifold.

Winemaking is a creative job, and you participate in that creation. If you see yourself in all of this and it brings you a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, then you are on the right path.