Jaroslav Osička - The Teacher
A visit to a pivotal figure in Czech natural wine
If you spend any amount of time talking to Czech natural winemakers, it won’t be too long before Jaroslav Osička’s name comes up. Words like “godfather”, “pioneer” or “legend” will probably be bandied about, but I doubt that Osička would be comfortable with any of them. When we met at his maze-like cellar in the town of Velké Bílovice, Moravia, I felt nothing but humility and a sense of joy and enthusiasm for all things wine. His son Luboš, now an integral part of the business, handled translation for us during this interview.
Now just entering his seventh decade, Osička (pronounced Ositchka) spent 30 years teaching oenology and viticulture at his local high school. He famously mentored Milan Nestarec and Martin Vajčner, two younger growers who now both have international profiles, not to mention countless other local winemakers. He encouraged his pupils in the direction of organic farming and minimal intervention, even though he told me “It was always up to the students to choose their approach”.