Wine production in Croatia dates back 2,500 years: Written by Gisele Carig, Blue Danube Wine Co.
When planning a trip to Croatia or Slovenia, wine tasting may not be among the activities you would think to list. That would be a terrible mistake as both countries have long established wine making cultures. Wine production in Croatia dates back to ancient Greek settlers who brought the vine to the islands of Vis, Hvar, and Korčula about 2,500 years ago. Gradually grape cultivation spread to the mainland and there are now 3 main growing regions boasting diverse soil types, climate, and varietals. One main region is the Dalmatian coast which stretches along the Adriatic. Plavac mali, indigenous grape varietal related to zinfandel, is king here. Meaning “little blue” in Croatian, this grape produces wines of intense tannin and acidity with pleasant blue and black fruit flavors. Look no further than the Miloš family winery, on the Pelješac Peninsula, to explore the possibilities of this grape. They currently only produce wine from plavac mali, making them true specialists. The dramatic views from their limestone amphitheatre vineyards aren’t too bad either.
Slovenia has been quietly producing high quality wines since the 1500’s. Bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia, many influences can be seen in Slovenian culture and wine making. The most prominent wine region is The Littoral, home to the district of Goriška Brda, on the Italian border side of the country. Local native grapes include rebula, or ribolla gialla in Italian, and Sauvignonasse, or Friulano. In addition many French varieties introduced centuries ago thrive in the region such as pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, merlot, and cabernet franc. Kabaj winery is vinifying them all according to proprietor Jean-Michel Morel’s elegant yet unique style. Red and white wines alike spend at least 12 months in large oak casks, with the whites seeing extended contact with their skins. The flagship “Amfora” wine, made in clay pots buried beneath the earth, is also not to be missed.
Blue Danube Wine Co.
The Blue Danube Wine Company was founded in 2002 by husband and wife team Frank Dietrich and Zsuzsanna Molnar to import fine Central European wines to the U.S. market. The company focuses on wines from Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, and the Republic of Georgia that are fairly rare in the U.S. For more information about the regions discussed above and the wines, please check out our website: www.bluedanubewine.com