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Home to 130 indigenous varieties including the original Zinfandel, an overview of the fascinating world of Croatian wine.
- Meet the grapes of Croatia, 130 indigenous varieties
- The wine regions of Croatia
- Which grapes are the most commonly planted in Croatia?
- Wine fairs and festivals in Croatia
- Map of all Croatia’s winemakers
- A British Master of Wine: Hands from London, Grapes from Hvar
- Where to taste Croatian wine
- Wine tours in Croatia
- Wine bars in Croatia
- Can you buy Croatian wine online?
- Meet the Winemakers of Croatia
- Prosek v Prosecco
- Bevanda, Bikla and Gemist
- 1. Red Istria wine road
- 2. Grey Istria wine road
- 3. Peljesac wine road
- 4. Hvar wine road
- 5. Korcula wine road
- 6. Vis wine road
- 7. Krk and environs wine road
- 8. Baranja wine road
- 9. Plesivica wine road
- 10. Medjimurje wine road
- Books about the wines of Croatia
- Websites and blogs about Croatian wines
- The 1947 vintage Croatian wine served at the Queen’s Coronation, yours for $8,000
- Meet the Peljesac wine served at President Biden’s inauguration
Croatia has some spectacular wine tasting experiences. Check out this speedboat wine tour to a waterfront cave on Hvar, for example.
Did you know that the original Zinfandel was from Croatia? DNA testing at the University of Davis showed that Tribidrag from Kastela near Split was, in fact, the original Zin.
It is just one in a number of fascinating facts about the wines of Croatia, which boast a reported 130 indigenous grape varieties.
Some, such as Grk on Korcula, only grow in one location. Other islands, for example, Hvar, have a number of varieties which only grow there. Hvar has Bogdanusa, Prc, Darnekusa, Mekuja, Palarusa and others.
For a more comprehensive look at the individual varieties, check out the indigenous grapes section.
Croatia has a number of very diverse wine regions. Dalmatia, Istria, Zagorje, Slavonia and Baranja are the most important, as well as tiny Plesivica near Zagreb, home to Croatia’s best sparkling wine. For an overview of all the regions of Croatia by county, check out the Total Croatia Wine overview.
Grasevina is by far the most planted grape variety in Croatia, accounting for almost a quarter of all vineyards. It is followed by two giants from Istria and Dalmatia respectively – Malvazija and Plavac Mali. Total Croatia Wine took a look at the changing trends in Croatian grape planting.
Croatia has an increasing number of wine fairs, most of them local and regional. Among the most important are Zagreb VinoCOM and Vinistra.
There are also many wine festivals throughout the years, and this is a wonderful way to get to know local wines and traditions. Check out wine fairs and festivals map above. And do check with your local tourist board on arrival what is happening.
So, how to find the winemakers of Croatia? Although wine is a very popular tourist accessory, I was more than a little surprised to find there is no official website in Croatia. Surprise turned to shock when I received a database of winemakers from the Chamber of Economy. It was more like a tired spreadsheet with hardly any contact information at all. Similarly, there was no information on wine roads. And so we decided to build some. You can find the most comprehensive map of Croatian winemakers, complete with contact details here. Or if you are looking for more regional detail, check out the TCN virtual wine roads below.
There was a quality foreign addition to the Croatian wine scene in 2014, when Jo Ahearne MW moved to Hvar. Jo became the first Master of Wine ever to make wine in Croatia. And she did so using the indigenous grape varieties of her adopted island of Hvar. One of her whites, Wild Skins, was named in the top 10 wines in Croatia in its first year. Jo is already exporting as far away as the USA, Japan and Australia. Learn more about Jo Ahearne MW on Hvar, and make sure you pop in for a tasting at Ahearne Vino.
the best place to taste Croatian wine, of course, is at the winery. Check out our map of the winemakers of Croatia to find out where they are. While some welcome people dropping in, many are small businesses. As such, they are not geared up to spontaneous wine tastings. So you are advised to contact them in advance, to avoid disappointment.
Another great place to catch tutored tastings are wine bars, and many wine bars now host evenings with the individual winemaker.
Wine tourism is on the rise in Croatia, but if you are looking for Western standards, be patient. While some wineries such as Bibich put on a real show, many others are small producers not geared up for tastings.
There are more specialist wine tour agencies now, and the wine touring experience is improving quickly. Among the best in my experience are Secret Dalmatia and Hvar Wine Tours. If you are looking for a wine tour, please contact us on [email protected] Subject Wine Tour.
The wine bar scene has exploded in recent years all over Croatia, as bar owners see the potential in Croatia’s wine story. In Split, for example, the first wine bar only appeared 6 years ago. Paradox Wine and Cheese Bar was revolutionary at the time, but many others have followed. For more information, and a map, of the wine bars in Croatia, visit the Total Croatia Wine page.
You have fallen in love with a Croatian wine and you want to buy it online. Sounds simple, right? Nothing is quite that simple in Croatia, but online shipping of Croatian wines finally happened a couple of years ago. Shipping can be done all over the EU, as well as, more recently, the United States. You can even mix your own cases, and prices are very competitive. The shipping becomes very affordable with orders of two cases or more. So what are you waiting for…
Croatia has some outstanding and very eclectic winemakers. Meet a selection of them in our Total Croatia Wine series getting to know the winemakers of Croatia.
One is a sparkling Italian wine, made popular 50 years ago, and the other is a sweet dessert wine dating back thousands of years. Croats got a rude awakening to the realities of EU membership when they were told they would have to stop using the name Prosek upon joining.
Whatever it is called, Prosek is delicious, and it is one of Dalmatia’s most sought-after wines. Learn the unique and traditional process of Prosek production.
Croats like to mix their wines with other drinks. Red wine is often consumed with ice, with red wine with still water (bevanda) and white wine with sparkling water (gemist) in continental Croatia are part of Croatian culture.
If you want to go really niche, however, head to Vrgorac in October for the Biklijada. This is when a local drink, bikla, is celebrated – red wine and goat milk. Don’t knock it until you have tried it…
Another unusual combination I have come across in Dalmatia is prosek with a raw egg. This was traditionally given to children to boost their immunity.
Information about Croatian wines are becoming more readily available in print, even in English. Two very good recent additions include Cracking Croatian Wine by Dr. Matthew Horkey and Charlene Tan, and Dalmatian Wine Stories by Zeljko Garmaz, who also runs the Vinske Price blog. Zeljko has also recently written a book about the wines of Slavonia.
There are a growing number of websites and blogs about the wines of Croatia. Among those worth checking out, apart from our very own Total Croatia Wine:
Want to get a quick overview of the highlights of the Croatian wine scene? Here are 25 things to know, written by Zoran Pejovic from Paradox Wine and Cheese Bar in Split.
One of the most amazing stories about Croatian wine concerns a 1947 Traminac from Ilocki Podrum in eastern Croatia. Some 11,000 bottles were ordered for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, and there are still around 150 bottles of this vintage left, which can be yours for around $8,000 a bottle.
The fact that these bottles are still available is due to an incredible story during the Homeland War in the 1990s, when the Serbs took control of the winery and started turning the wine into rakija. A dedicated employee built a fake wall in the main cellar and hid 8,000 of the most precious bottles, all of which survived. You can learn more in my report on a visit to the fabulous cellars of Ilocki Podrum.
Wine for the Coronation of a British monarch, wine for the Inauguration of an American President. President Joe Biden’s big day included a touch of Dingac magic from the Peljesac Peninsula.
Learn more about the wines of Croatia by following our Total Croatia Wine portal.