Croatia is well known as a country of many islands but lesser known is that it is a country of many vineyards ranging from the tiny unknowns to the award-winning wine producers. While on your luxury charter yacht or gulet it is definitely worth trying some of the local varieties and even visiting some of the vineyards located on the Dalmatian islands and Peljesac Peninsula.
Croatia has two distinct wine regions – the Primorska Hrvatska ("coastal Croatia") and Kontinentalna Hrvatska ("continental Croatia") and within these some 300 officially recognised geographical wine-producing areas. The northern continental area produces rich fruity white wines while a little further south and west in this region and you will find rich Mediterranean-style red wines. Further south again to the Dalmatian coast and islands this area is home to such a variety of terrains and micro-climates the resulting wines are also very individual.
All these wine varieties can be very confusing for a visitor to Croatia, partly because the Croatian language is not the easiest for English speakers to pronounce and recognise and also because most of the small winemakers sell exclusively to the local Croatian market. In addition the diversity and sheer number of the wine varieties available can be overwhelming.
Wine in Croatia dates back to the 6th century BC and has flourished since then. While it is possible to buy Croatian Chardonnays or Pinot Noirs, for example, these wines are not what is generally drunken but rather individual areas and even vineyards have over the centuries developed very individual grape varieties. With the wine industry blossoming since the fall of communism the quality of the wine produced is increasingly being recognised internationally. In 2009, Croatia stunned the wine world by taking eight gold medals at the illustrious Decanter Wine Awards, over and above the heavy weights of New Zealand and Chile. In 2016 Croatia won an amazing 72 medals at these same awards.
While there are literally hundreds of grape varieties in Croatia, it is generally accepted that the red Plavac Mali grape creates the finest red wine. The birthplace of this fine grape is central / southern Dalmatia and on your luxury charter yacht it is very likely you will be travelling through this very area. An enjoyable excursion ashore is a visit to one of the many vineyards that offer cellar door wine tastings in this area.
Grgic Vineyard in Trstenik is one such vineyard, and perhaps the most celebrated. Mike Grgich who emigrated to California brought the grapes from here and replanted them there to create the well-known Zinfandel wines. In addition his 1973 Chardonnay also competed in the historic 1976 Paris Wine Tasting, where in a blind tasting it was ranked the number one white wine. The 2008 film Bottle Shock portrays this incredible story of courage and hard work.
In terms of white wines Malvazija from Istria and Posip from Korcula produce Croatia's most renowned ones. And for a sparkling white Grabovac's prosecco rivals Venice's best. Other great vineyards include Boškinac on Island Pag near Zadar, Saint Hills, Korta Katarina, Rizman, and Matuško on the Peljasac Peninsula, Andro Tomić on Island Hvar, and not forgetting the brilliant Tomac in the Plešivica Hills near Zagreb, (their sparkling Rose is delicious).
As for Istria there are many excellent producers, one favourite is Matosević at Svet Lovrec, but there are many other excellent vineyards here.While if you are moored in Skradin we suggest a visit to the Bibich Winery not only for the quality of wine he makes but also for the wonderful food pairings they offer. Do try the young and fresh white Debit they produce as well as the equally young but gentle red R6 Reserva both of which have won considerable international success.
If you spend some time in Dubrovnik then we suggest trying the wine tastings at D'Vino, a charming little bar in the old town. They have an impressive line-up of local wines with staff that are both knowledgeable and very friendly. It is a great introduction to all the wines that Croatia has on offer.
The equivalent of D'Vino in Split is Zinfandel's Food & Wine Bar in the Old Town. They also offer winetastings of a great selection of fine Croatian wines and offer to advise on which to try based on the styles of wine you usually prefer at home.
So while the wines served on your luxury charter yacht or gulet may not be familiar the wine industry in Croatia has come ahead in leaps and bounds and we are sure that you will find something for every palate.
For more information about Croatia
For details about the luxury charter yachts and gulets available in Croatia please contact the specialists at the Luxury Charter Group.
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