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The Wine Regions of Croatia: Where to Find Spectacular Croatian Wine

couple clinking glasses of Croatian wine in the wine regions of Croatia
16 Feb

The Wine Regions of Croatia: Where to Find Spectacular Croatian Wine

Although overlooked by many, Croatian wine is beginning to win over some of the most sophisticated wine palates in the world. The country is blessed with mild and dry summers that outweigh the cold, winter months. As a result, this Mediterranean location has the perfect conditions for grapes to grow, which are ultimately produced into some of the best Croatian wines, on par with any vintage you may find across the globe. 

Many travel here to try some of the popular Croatian wine variants in the regions from which they originate. Through this blog, we’ll unveil where you can find the wine regions of Croatia and what each of them has to offer travelers. 

A little background on Croatian wine…

The history of winemaking in these lands is an old one, venturing as far back as the Ancient Greeks, who came to the lands back in the 5th century BC. During their reign, they built vineyards and brought a methodology to the production of Croatian grapes which is still seen in Croatia’s wine production today. Nowadays, Croatian wine is slowly making a name for itself in the wine industry and has become a staple for wine production across the Adriatic Sea. 

The majority of the wine produced in Croatia comes in the form of dry whites, with a few red varieties scattered in there and even less rosé production. While Croatia may favor white wine production, its wine collection is vast and incredibly high-quality. Meaning you will not be disappointed, regardless of the variety you try here. 

How did Croatian wine become popular?

Many of you wine connoisseurs out there may be familiar with the name Miljenko Grgich who played a huge role in popularizing Californian wine around the world. But in fact, Grgich was actually born in Croatia, in the village of Desne, and used the skills learned from his father who produced Croatian wine to influence many of his later decisions. One is the establishment of Grgich Hills Estate in Napa Valley, building this up to be one of the premier wineries throughout the U.S.

But did you know that his wine empire first started on Croatian soil when he opened Grgić Vina, a Croatian winery in the southern Dalmatia wine region of Croatia? This winery is still in operation and be visited today on a wine tour of Croatia. Grgich lived a long life, accomplishing many things during his 100 years on the earth, including bringing Californian wine to the forefront of the wine industry. However, he never forgot his Croatian roots as he helped the industry take strides towards the rebirth of Croatian wine, as well. 

The wine regions of Croatia 

There are four distinct Croatia wine regions you should be aware of, each of which has its own unique climate, geological features and production methods that make their wine production different from the others. 

The four wine regions in Croatia are:

  • Istria and Kvarner
  • Dalmatia
  • Slavonia and Danube
  • Upland Croatia

This can be divided further into Mediterranean (coastal) and Continental climate (inland) wine regions. But for this blog, we will be focusing on the four wine regions of Croatia mentioned above.

Istria and Kvarner

Croatia wine region climate: Mediterranean

Istria and Kvarner - wine regions of Croatia

This Croatian wine region can be found in the westernmost part of the country, along the coastal tip of Croatia, reaching as high as southern Slovenia. Being so close to the coast, this particular region benefits from warm summers and mild winters, allowing the grapes to grow most of the year round. Istria is most famous for its wine produced using the indigenous white grape variety, Malvazija Istarska, which creates aromatic and fresh white Croatian wines. 

One of the best white wines from the Istria and Kvarner wine regions is Istrian Malvasia, a rich and fruity wine that pairs well with seafood or shellfish. However, if you tend to favor a red over a white, we recommend trying Teran, a robust red variety grown in soils rich with iron. It has fruity aromas that are perfectly complemented by earthy, mineral notes.


Croatia wine region climate: Mediterranean

Dalmatia - wine regions of Croatia

Dalmatia is one of the biggest wine regions of Croatia, producing a wide variety of Croatian wines from rich, full-bodied reds to tasty, refreshing white wines. It can be found along the Adriatic coast, with a climate that sees the perfect combination of hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The coast and islands which make up the Dalmatia wine region are renowned for their abundant sunshine and cooling sea breezes which can be felt in their wine production.

One of the most famous Croatian wines produced here is Plavac Mali, a red grape variety whose vineyards can mostly be found on the island of Korčula. It’s a dry wine, full of flavor and low in acidity that projects notes of blackberry, dark cherries and spice.

Some other grape varieties that are notable include Pošip, which goes well with fish-based dishes and light cheeses, and Grk, both spectacular white varieties found in this Croatian wine region.

Slavonia and Danube

Croatia wine region climate: Continental

Slavonia and Danube - wine regions of Croatia

Slavonia and Danube are wine regions of Croatia found furthest inland. An area which sees extreme temperature differences, with hot summers and vastly cold winters. Most of the vineyards here are situated on flat plains and hills.

The most famous grape variety from the Slavonia wine region is the Graševina grape, (also known as Welschriesling) a white grape variety which thrives in the changing continental climate. The wines produced from this grape tend to be fresh and aromatic with flowery and fruity notes –  a tasty treat for travelers exploring the magical region. Pair it with cured meats, shellfish or local cheeses to truly bring out its extraordinary flavor. 

Upland Croatia

Croatia wine region climate: Continental

Upland Croatia - wine regions of Croatia

The upland Croatia wine region is located in the northernmost part of the country where the capital city, Zagreb is found. We recommend booking a wine tour around the upland Croatia wine region if you’re staying in Zagreb. This can be a fun tailor-made excursion to a holiday, giving you the opportunity to try the region’s grape varieties, as well as learn more about the production process of its local wines. 

In particular, this Croatia wine region is known for its diverse grape varieties, including the Škrlet and Kraljevina varieties. You will notice that the Croatian wines from this region are often characterized by their crisp acidity and unique flavors.

wine glasses on a table outside of a restaurant

Booking a tour of the Croatia wine regions

If you love wine, then you cannot take a trip here without including a tour of the wine regions of Croatia on your itinerary. Explore local vineyards, take a private tour of the wine cellars and become more familiar with the wine-making process. You can also add a wine-tasting session to your holiday, where you can taste the best wines of Croatia paired with local Croatian cuisines.

Book a custom wine tour with our team, or secure a place on our exclusive Wine & Culinary Delights Tour to have a more authentic experience trying the local wines of Croatia.

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