Crushing Grapes: Hunt for Croatia Wine in Dalmatia
In Croatia, there are 300 geographically defined wine regions. Luckily you don’t need to know all 300 to enjoy a crisp glass of pošup (white) or bold dingač (red). Croatia wine ranks 30th out of all the wine producing countries in production so that means the wine you drink in Croatia will not be available outside of Croatia so when you find a bottle you like, stock up and bring it home.
The main regions most recognize when they visit Croatia are Istria & Dalmatia. There are of course, wine regions near Zagreb and further east, where you can try different grapes on extremely different terroirs.
The Croatia wine of Dalmatia region starts around Zadar and meanders south to Dubrovnik. Along this coastal wine region, you will have the opportunity to visit/sample/taste over 40 defined commercial vineyards (probably a low estimate- there are a lot of them) and hundreds of family wine makers, where families sell their wine for a couple bucks out of their garage (look for the vino signs with arrows).
Names like Bibich, Tomić, Vukas, Miloš and Grgich are wine kings here among others. They grow and produce wine on Hvar island, Skradin, Brač island, Korčula island, Peljesač peninsula and places in between.
Peljesač and Hvar seem to be the most heavily populated with wineries, so any wine drinker needs to hit these areas to get the full effect of Croatian wine.
Two of my current favorites are Bibich & Sladic, which is great because they are next door to each other just outside Skradin.
Bibich is a true workhorse of wine producers, making over 40 kinds of wine from a variety of local and international grapes: grenache, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, lasina (only local to that region), plavac mali, pošup and debit to name a few. They have a full tasting room (appointments are not necessary in summer) and a restaurant serving 5+ course locally sourced meals with accompanying wine pairings. By far the best wine they sell with a price tag to match ($80) is their Bas de Bas. If you can try this wine, it will knock your socks off. It’s how red wine is supposed to taste, nuanced, bold, creamy and lingers on the palette. My personal favorite on this trip.
Sladić (no web presence) is about 1 minute down the road from Bibich and is a family wine maker that is getting more and more name recognition in Croatia for it’s wines. Sladić is not found anywhere outside of Croatia and the winery itself only makes 20,000 bottles a year and sells out of those by the end of summer. They make 6 wines: debit (white), maraština (white), rose, oya noya (red), lasina (red) & cuvee (lasina & plavina stored in oak). Lasina is a hyper local grape, only grown with 20km or so of the area, so when you drink these wines you really tasting the terroir. The rose and maraština were hands down my favorites and all the wines were priced extremely reasonably at $10-18.
You don’t need to be an expert to appreciate the Croatia wine, you just need to be open to trying them. With so many grapes and styles and growing regions, there is so much choice. There are many more vineyards I have yet to explore, but click here to see everything I have written to date on Croatia wine.