Croatia is amazing place for wine lovers! Locals drink wine for lunch and dinner and generally it’s not considered as alcohol. Many families produce their own house wine. Almost at every place i stayed in Croatia, they suggest me a glass of their own home wine as a sign of welcoming. It’s very tricky to spend a day here without a glass of wine, especially if you try to stay close to the local life. Good news, that if you are in Croatia, that’s perfectly fine!
Culture in Istria is so wine friendly, that for wine lovers it would feel like heaven! House wine is very affordable and nice to drink. Fine wines have very long tradition, thought they are not very famous abroad. Or better to say, was not very famous. Last few years many people started to talk that Croatia now produce very nice wine. Winemaking have very old traditions here, but for years during communist times all wine production was centralised. Later production was affected by war. Last couple decades it’s getting back to what it was for centuries.
Croatian wines are mainly produced on small scale by family owned wineries and rarely get exported. Most of the wine produced is sold locally. Croatian wine rarely could be found in mainstream stores in the rest of the world, although it’s being imported more and more each year, usually by specialised, small scale importers. That’s why it’s really good idea to try Croatian wine while in this beautiful country.
I couldn’t miss this part of Croatian culture, so today i took a wine tour from Dubrovnik with Insiders Holidays to learn more about it!
In the late afternoon we left Dubrovnik to explore the area of Peljesac Peninsula, one of the most important wine growing regions in Croatia. It wasn’t very long drive, but extremely picturesque! We drove through hills, lagoons, oysters plantations, made a short stop at the salt production and made it to one of the most famous winery in the region.
This winery got it’s long history and it’s production existed during communism times. Their oldest wine barrel, which is still in use, is from 1942. It survived during WW2, revolutions and could be considered as little miracle. It was the first Croatian winery, who registered their own trade mark after communist time, so probably they could be called the oldest one.
Anyway, it doesn’t look like massive production, but more like home winery. One of the family members came to greet us and explained about their production. All work is done organically, all grapes are from their own plantations, which are located on the hills and don’t have any irrigation system. The wine itself was also very good and balanced.
Peljesac and Dubrovnik area are part of a larger geographical region known as Dalmatia. It is characterised by high number of sunshine hours per year and mostly rocky soil. Entire Dalmatian region have a long tradition of wine making. The main wine variety on Peljesac is Plavac Mali, which makes very expressive and interesting red wine with plenty of potential for ageing. Plavac Mali gives the best results in two law-protected geographical areas – Dingac and Postup – the only protected areas in Croatia, both on Peljesac Peninsula.
On our way to the next winery we made a short stop at the extremely picturesque grape growing field located on the hill right next to the sea. Microclimate of the area was obviously unique one: i can easily smell sun and salt from the sea, which means that the grapes will have the same savour. It was so beautiful around, great place to grow great wine!
Few more minutes and we made it to the small family wine production, which is part of their home in the small village. All their business is done by the members of the family, 3-4 people. It was that perfect moment, when we entered and saw a beautiful room, stout and jazz music playing. All the members of the family came to greet us, brought fresh mussels and light snacks. And their own wine, of course! It was perfect: light and fruity rose and couple of excellent well-rounded reds. It tastes very different from the wine at the first factory, thought the distance between them wasn’t that big and the technics were quite similar.
Good wine brings good talk among our small group! I learned about their life, we discussed their travels and i was very pleased how interested they were in mine. You know, you want to tell your stories sometimes! Our hosts talked about their wine and their lifes in small village. Most of them now are my Facebook friends!
My guides, who were husband and wife, also told me their stories. Ana is a professional certified wine taster and had her own restaurant in Dubrovnik. Bazidar is an experienced tour guide in Dubrovnik and part-time blogger and columnist. Both were born in Croatia and very passionate about their lives, wine, food, connecting with people and making great experiences. That’s why they choose to make their own company Insider Holidays with the goal to bring unique food and wine experiences in Croatia. They don’t make big group tours to save authentic feeling for their wine tours. Probably, the feeling we all are looking for while travelling!