Goran Djokovic, the uncle of tennis great Novak Djokovic, is an entrepreneur by vocation. Despite growing up in the communist Yugoslavia, where a secure job in a state-owned institution was the “Yugoslav dream,” the Djokovic brothers, Srdjan and Goran, both professional skiers, took a “self-made” less traveled route to success. Not only the Djokovic brothers were behind “the making of” the future best tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic, but they have also successfully built many family-owned businesses.
“We always had our own, private businesses, from restaurants to clothing shops to ski schools,” Goran Djokovic recalled his entrepreneurship journey talking to The Pavlovic Today. The latest of these is a wine brand, The Djokovic Wine.
The Djokovic Wine made its debut at an international Wine Vision fair in Belgrade. At the soft VIP launch, the tennis star Novak Djokovic came in support of his uncle. The crowd entered a frenzy at the sightings of the world-famous athlete who causally stood at the wine stand among his family members, who were sipping chilled Chardonne.
“We always try to create something new,” Goran Djokovic shared, beginning the story about how The Djokovic Wine came to fruition. “This was a big challenge for us. This year marks the seventh year since we purchased the vineyard and embarked on the wine-producing journey.”
The small, family-owned vineyard is located 6 kilometers from Topola, the famous wine region in Serbia. Goran revealed that throughout the seven-year journey, he encountered many challenges, but in the fashion of Djokovic’s spirit, “no obstacle was impossible to overcome.”
With Djokovic wine, Goran wanted to create a legacy brand. “I have six-year-old twins. I wanted to create something lasting.” The wine label was carefully designed, bearing an elegant logo, a Cyrillic letter “Dj ” made from oak, tinted Byzantine blue.
“We are Serbs, so we wanted to emphasize that,” explained Goran. Like his nephew Novak Djokovic, Goran never misses an opportunity to promote Serbia, and he has been appointed an Honorary Consul of the Republic of Serbia in Monaco.
Djokovic: There is no such thing as overnight success
During the global shutdown, when no one could travel, Goran Djokovic looked for a silver lining and poured all his energy and time into the wine business.
“In the age of virtual reality, this is something real. When the pandemic came, it showed that what matters is creating something that comes from nature, something real.”
Djokovic knows that “no business can be created overnight” and that success is a process. “We learned that,” Goran shared.
“We have big interest, we have created a great brand, but most importantly, we have good quality wine,” said Goran. “From the response we have been getting so far from the public and wine distributors, we are on the right path.” While the Djokovic wine could be tasted at the Wine Vision international fair, the wine is not yet available for sale, but it will hit the shelves in the coming weeks.
The wine comes in two labels, the red one, Syrah, and the white one, Chardonne. The line will expand, according to Goran’s vision, into sparkling wines in the next few years. As the wine business develops, Djokovic winery will have a tasting section for visitors and a tennis court.
—Will Novak Djokovic be included in the wine promotion? I asked Goran. “Novak came to the soft launch of Djokovic wine as a family member,” Goran clarified. “He was very pleased with everything. Novak always wants to promote Serbia.” However, as an athlete, Novak “does not promote alcohol,” but, in his uncle’s words, “wine is different. It’s not hard liquor.” Indeed, even in the Bible, wine is holy.
The Djokovic Spirit: Keep moving forward
When Goran Djokovic sat out to produce wines, he could not imagine winemaking’s hard work and many challenges.
“There is a big uncertainty surrounding the winemaking business,” he revealed. “Wine success depends on so many components. You have to find a good vineyard and hire a good team. I have been trying to assemble the best team of experts possible.” After seven years, all people who work on Djokovic wine “became friends,” according to Goran Djokovic. “We make wine from grapes from our vineyard. We will produce 40,000 bottles of wine,” said Djokovic. While the wine will eventually hit the international market, according to Goran, his business priority is ensuring that the Serbian market comes first.
I asked Goran if the unshakable Novak Djokovic spirit was something he had inherited in their family. “Yes, he did. I am confident in that,” quipped Novak’s uncle. “This year was not easy for Novak, but he keeps pressing forward. I am sure that after everything he endured, he will come out stronger,” Goran gave insight into World No.1 thinking. “Novak is his own person. He knows who he is. Novak knows what he wants,” his uncle said warmly, but confidently.
“The ordeal he went through this year in Australia only extended his career. Instead of maybe retiring from tennis in three or four years, his career has been extended for five, or six years. He is resting his body.”
Goran shared that “Americans did not respond” to Novak Djokovic’s query if he could get an exemption to play at the US Open and that it was “obvious” that he could not play due to his vaccination status and thus did not take a trip. “This time, he was not welcomed to come to New York,” said Goran. According to his uncle, Novak was left pretty much “unfazed.”
From decades-long business experience, Goran Djokovic knows that many young businessmen can get paralyzed and overwhelmed if they start thinking way too ahead. Goran’s message to young entrepreneurs who want to start a business is to initially “only focus” on the first two next steps.”You have to be courageous,” said Goran Djokovic. “Keep moving forward. Always.”