Did I just catch you re-reading that title? Were you pausing, asking yourself, “wait a second — Croatia’s wine country? Do they even make wine?” Well, if you’re anything like we were then you’ve either never heard of it, never thought to think of it, or figured whatever wine they did make was more or less something like this:
Well get ready my friends, because we are about to introduce you to a world of wine with a deep history and profile that competes with the best in the world.
Croatian wine is as diverse as it is incredible. With over 60 unique & indigenous varietals, Croatia has something for everyone’s palette. During our visit to the country, we extensively traveled the Pelješac (that’s pel-ye-shots) Peninsula and sampled some of the finest wines we have ever laid taste buds on.
Viticulture has been an integral part of Croatian culture for centuries. However, during the communist era, private wineries were forced to yield their harvest to the government who in turn made massive quantities of low-quality, pot-luck wine. This oppression and lack of quality production really stymied the growth and development of their wine scene.
It wasn’t until after the dissolution of Yugoslavia that these wineries were able to begin their individual practices again. Sadly, they were set back yet again as a devastating civil war ravaged the country that lasted until 1996. As a result, Croatia’s wine scene is just now beginning to fully blossom.
Visitors today will discover a wide variety of wineries —ranging from some who use traditional “Old European Style” practices to others who utilize modern technologies to deliver new and inventive wines.
There are five qualities a wine tester looks for to determine a wine’s quality: varietal character, integration, expressiveness, complexity, and connectedness. Perhaps the most obvious of these characteristics here in Croatia is connectedness. Connectedness is like a cultural identity — elusive and difficult to ascertain, but you know it when you have it. It is the bond between a wine and the land it was born into, and in Croatia the two are kindred spirits. So dependent are these varietals upon their soil that Plavac Mali will not thrive in any other region in the world — not even in other Croatian regions!
Each of Croatia’s major regions produce a number of unique wines and the country as a whole has over 60 indigenous varietals.
What You’ll Love About the Dalmatian Coast:
Stunning 360° Views
What’s better than drinking an enjoying a great glass of wine? Enjoying said glass with this as your backdrop:
Every direction you turn you are faced with awe-inspiring beauty. From jagged mountains, aqua blue seas, to terracotta rooftops reflecting the Mediterranean sun, the scenery will truly take your breath away.
All of the wineries offer tastings and oftentimes tours – you heard me right. Every winery we visited eagerly welcomed us and made us feel right at home. Our friend Ivan from Miloš (me-losh) Vineyards even offers tasting packages that include a drive to the top of his family’s estate. It doesn’t get any better than this!
Private and Personalized Tours
Where else can you get a wine tasting and educational history for just two people? Send the winery an e-mail ahead of time to book a time and you’re all set. Sure, we saw a few people here and there, but we always had personalized service and never even noticed the others. Except for this one time, we met a quirky Ecuadorian couple. They were super nice, knew a ton about wine, and even invited us to stay with them the next time we’re in South America. I love how sharing good wine brings people together.
Friendly Croatian Hospitality
There’s nothing worse than going to a country only to be scoffed at and looked down upon by its local people (we won’t point fingers, but one country comes to mind, non?). Rest assured, that will never happen in Croatia. The people truly embody the Mediterranean: they are warm, friendly, and they greet you it’s as if you’ve been friends for years.
Expressive and Unique Wines
Have you drunk every cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay under the sun? These generic grapes are grown all over the world and while they are delicious, they are so 1990. Try something new and impress your friends with your sophisticated tastes. Plavac Mali (plah-vats mah-li) is one of Croatia’s many indigenous varietals which you won’t find growing anywhere else in the world. A relative of zinfandel, this expressive grape won’t leave your palette estranged, and you’ll find yourself intrigued with the balance struck by the wine’s deep mineral complexity combined with the jammy expressions we all expect of a zin.
Yup. It is only a matter of time before the whole world’s eyes are turned to Croatia and their incredible wines. In five years when all of your friends are talking about Croatian wine being all the rage, you will already be a seasoned veteran. You’ll tell them with a smirk how you used to visit all of those wineries that they are paying to see back when they were free and still undiscovered.
How to get the most from your winery visit:
Do some prior research
Check out what is grown in the area you will be visiting and learn a little about each varietal. Some background knowledge will allow your guide to skip the basics and really dig deeper to provide you with really interesting information.
Be interested and respectful
The more you give the more you receive. The winery employees are all very friendly and eager to educate foreigners about their wines. Ask questions and also provide feedback. The international wine culture is still developing in Croatia. We found that the wineries genuinely appreciated feedback as it can help them tailor their wines to appeal to a broader palette.
The wineries we visited:
These wineries were held in high esteem and came strongly recommended. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to make it to them all!
Roso – Nestled in the small town of Kuna, Roso is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it.
Bire – A quick ferry ride from Orebić, Bire is the leading producer of Grk.
Vukas – A winery known for its Plavac Mali that uses traditional wine making techniques.
Before you Go!
Are you planning a trip to Croatia soon? Make sure to pin this page so you don’t forget it is a reference for your travels! Share the love! A little support goes a long ways and keeps us writing and delivering original content. As always, thank you 🙂