Believe it or not, Croatia is famed for its wine. There are numerous producers and wineries in Croatia located up and down the coastline, as well as some excellent ones inland too. Visiting a winery in Croatia is a must if you’re something of a wine connoisseur, or if you’d like to sample some of the varieties of Croatian wine. It’s a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon!
Most wineries offer wine tastings or tours of the wine cellars or vineyards – however, in almost all cases, pre-booking a time slot is recommended.
Wineries in Croatia – Istria
Kozlovic Winery, Buje
Located very close to the Slovenian border, this family-run winery’s history stretches back to 1904 when their vineyards where first established. These days they plant the Croatian varieties of Malvazia, Muscat Momiano, Muscat Rose and Teran and international varieties too – Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Tours of the vineyards are possible, as well as tastings in their modern (built 2012) winery base which has a terrace overlooking their vineyards.
Kabola Winery, Buje
Located close to the above, Kabola Winery is also family-run with an even older history – its first wine was produced way back in 1891. Since 2009, all of the wine and olive oil production has been organic and environmentally friendly – they produce white, red and rose wines, sweet wines and a sparkling option. They offer a number of different tasting experiences, from a basic tasting of three wines, to offering tours of the cellars or even a VIP experience.
Benazic Winery, Pula
With vineyards covering an area of 7 hectares, this winery produces the grapes malvasia, teran, yellow muscat, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, gamay and white pinot. With hours of sunshine and a mixture of warm sea air and refreshing winds from the nearby Ucka mountain range as well as temperature differences between day and night, their grapes are grown with high sugars, suitable acids and strong aromatics. They also produce honey, mistletoe, grape and herbal brandies – all worth trying too! They have a modern and stylish tasting room at which you can sample their wines (with accompanying food), brandies and olive oil, and their wine cellar – the only one in the Pula area – can also be visited. Pre-booking is required for both.
Meneghetti Winery, Bale
Located just outside the charming little town of Bale, the Meneghetti Winery processes its vineyards in an environmentally sustainable way. The land around the winery is rich in minerals, particularly in iron – this gives the red wine produced at the winery its specific red colour. This soil also absorbs the sea air (the winery is only a few km inland from the coastline) as well as the Mediterranean plants that grow in the surroundings.
The Winery offers an exclusive tasting package – up to 10 people can enjoy 6 vintages from 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 as well as tasting the olive oils also produced on the site, and a tour of the vineyard and cellar. This package costs 3,450 Kuna and must be booked ahead (by at least 48 hours).
The Meneghetti Winery is in fact also a hotel – with rooms, suites and villas all available to book. This would be an amazing option for a weekend (or longer!) break in Istria – relaxing in the pretty countryside whilst sampling the excellent wine and food.
Wineries in Croatia – North/Central Dalmatia
Rak Winery, Sibenik
Producing Babic and Marastina wines (and an Opolo rose wine from the dark-skinned Babic grapes), this winery is open daily for tastings and sampling food made from local ingredients. They also have a few guest rooms on offer if you’d prefer to take it easy after trying their fantastic wines!
Putalj Winery, Split
Located just outside Split, but with a pick up from the city itself, this winery is one of the top experiences for visitors to this region. The Winery started its life in 2010 by producing a Zinfandel, and then a blend of Zinfandel and Plavac Mali for the following three years before producing Putalj Zinfandel, Putalj Plavac Mali and Putalj Rose in 2013.
Tours of Putalj Winery take place in the mid/late afternoon or evening (depending on the time of year) and feature a visit to the vineyard, production area and barrel room; tastings directly from the fermentation tanks; tastings of current vintages; tasting of olive oil also produced by Putalj Winery; and food pairings.
Although tours are offered daily, reservations are required (no walk-ins allowed) as tastings can be booked up in advance.
Wineries in Croatia – Islands
Tomic Winery, Jelsa, island of Hvar
The Tomic Family Winery, headed up by Andro Tomic, produces between 130,000 and 150,000 bottles of white, red and rose wine per year. Tomic Winery’s vineyards are located around the island of Hvar – around Hvar Town, Stari Grad and Jelsa – covering an area of 10 hectares; most of the vineyards are organic. The full list of wine they produce is extensive; it also includes the famous sweet Dalmatian dessert wine, Prosek, as well as some liquers.
The winery offers tours and tastings in their wine cellar in Jelsa which is modelled on ancient Roman dining rooms – carved out of stone, it even replicates some of the building methods used in the construction of Diocletian’s cellars. (The Roman Emperor who retired to his place in Split.)
- More info at Tomic Winery
Wineries in Croatia – Southern Dalmatia
Grgic Vina Winery, Trstenik, Peljesac Peninsula
This winery was founded by legendary Napa Valley winemaker Miljenko “Mike” Grgic (who is in fact Croatian born) in 1996 and produces two of the more famous Croatian wines in their vineyards on the Peljesac Peninsula and the island of Korcula: Plavac Mali and Posip. (Do read the fascinating story of how Mr Grgic ended up in California, establishing the famed Grgich Hills Estate.) Tastings can be done at their wine cellar in Trstenik.
- More info at Grgic Vina Winery
Wineries in Croatia – Inland
Located in Eastern Croatia in the Pozega region of Western Slavonia, the Kujetvo company (based in the town of the same name) is one of the more famous wine producers in Croatia, and you may well have tried its Grasevina white wine – whether you’ve been to Croatia or not! The town of Kutjevo is in fact the site of one of the oldest wine cellars in southern Europe, built in 1232 – wine production is therefore an important part of the history of this area. You can enjoy a tour of the wine cellars of the company as well as of course sampling their new and vintage wines (different tasting packages are available).
- More info at Kutjevo Winery
Other Wineries in Croatia
- Degarra Winery (Zadar)
- Grabovac Winery (Donji Prolozac, near Imotski – inland from Makarska)
- Matusko Winery (Potomje, Peljesac Peninsula)
- Milos Winery (Ston, Peljesac Peninsula)
- Marlais Winery (Ston, Peljesac Peninsula)
- Botaro Winery (Dubrovnik)
Open Wine Cellars Day in Istria
Every year on a Sunday in late May, Open Wine Cellars Day (or “Wine Day”) takes place in a number of participating wineries all across Istria. Drop in at a winery or two (or more!) to sample their wines – check locally for listings of participating venues and further details.
Istria also hosts the wine show Vinistra over a weekend every May, which showcases wines from Istria.