Eli Orzessek is Travel's Digital Content Producer.

Welcome to Diddy's parlour

Jak Jakicevich in the cellar beneath Dida's. Photo / Greg Bowker
Jak Jakicevich in the cellar beneath Dida's. Photo / Greg Bowker

At Dida's on Jervois Rd, sharing plates and meeting new people is encouraged.

The site has a lot of history for the Jakicevich family, who founded Glengarry wines back in 1940, with Dida's being their latest venture. It was where founder Josef Jakicevich set up his first retail store in 1945. He was known to his grandchildren as "Dida" - Croatian for grandfather.

The vineyard on Glengarry Rd in Oratia was the site of a lot of hard work for current Glengarry head Jak Jakicevich, his sister Angie and their four other siblings.

"As kids, mum and dad would say as we were coming from Glengarry Rd in Oratia, 'we're going to Dida's'. That was always Dida's for us," Mr Jakicevich says.

"All the family and all the grandchildren just loved Diddy," says Ms Jakicevich. "That passion for family and friends and looking after each other has come right through the generations."

The large tables, special glassware and plates for sharing reflect their heritage and family history with the building.

"Dida's reflects that same ethos of growing up," Mr Jakicevich says.

"We have big tables and people sit at both ends and after half an hour people are talking to each other."

And if there's one thing Croatians are really good at, it's talking, Ms Jakicevich adds.

"Dida's is about that - this person comes into your lounge, you want them to have a really lovely experience and then leave. And it's the same with the wine shop."

It's an impressive feat to have held on to a retail spot for such a long time and the Jakicevich siblings have seen the area change a lot over the years, along with Kiwi attitudes towards wine in general.

"[In the 70s] Ponsonby was a melting pot and full of university students, the era of the Beatles, and things were starting to pick up - Kiwis started to drink wine. It became cool to drink wine," says Mr Jakicevich.

: 'Dida' himself, Josef Jakicevich with his wife Marica. Photo / Supplied
: 'Dida' himself, Josef Jakicevich with his wife Marica. Photo / Supplied

While the siblings may have missed out on some coveted after-school activities, they say they wouldn't have had it any other way and have passed on their work ethic to their own children.

"We all had to do huge jobs for Dad, no matter what," says Mr Jakicevich. "Work was work, that's what you did. There were no holidays, no going to the beach."

"Before school you were either picking strawberries or labelling wine," adds Ms Jakicevich.

"You never had weekends off, you were working together, so we used to amuse ourselves as we were working."

The siblings did try to get some time off - in the form of a protest outside the packing shed, complete with placards demanding ice blocks and beach trips, which wasn't entirely successful.

"We tried, but you were just given another chore," she says.

But despite the occasional complaints, hard work created a strong bond with the six siblings - although Ms Jakicevich says she still can't stand strawberries.

Childhood was not always hard work for Jak Jakicevich and his siblings. Photo / Supplied
Childhood was not always hard work for Jak Jakicevich and his siblings. Photo / Supplied

"In a way it carried us through the years.

"We always can rely on each other and we're always there to help each other."

To this day, Glengarry remains 100 per cent family owned and Mr Jakicevich says they plan to keep it that way.

"We might not own the dirt," he says, "But we can put Glengarry wines wherever we want and that's ours.

"That's bigger than any bricks and mortar and we're quite staunchly proud of that."

- NZ Herald

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