Best Croatian Wines: Wine Tasting Guide to Sailing Croatia

03.12.2018. Sailing tips

Croatian wines are the country’s main appeal for many visitors who set sail to Dalmatian and Istrian shores, and the local wine culture and winemaking heritage are best explored on a sailing holiday along the country’s long, scenic coast.

With millennia of history in winemaking, Croatia is a leading wine producer in the region and, thanks to its warm climate and rocky terrain, it produces a great variety of high-quality wines from indigenous and international grape varieties.

Wine lovers and connoisseurs can sample these with delicious specialty dishes, cheeses and traditional Dalmatian foods as they make their way through the country's diverse coastal wine growing areas.

Wine tasting tips

  • Sample some of Croatia’s best wines in the historic cities of Split and Dubrovnik, stroll through the old streets and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and visit the cities’ many wine bars and wineries to try the locally produced Zinfandel, Plavac, Pošip and other Croatian varieties
  • Go on an island hopping cruise to the islands of Brač, Hvar, Vis and Korčula to visit the picturesque vineyards and taste the outstanding local Vugava, Bogdanuša and Pošip
  • Visit Hvar to discover its Renaissance buildings, lavender fields and coves, and enjoy a glass of red or white wine while admiring the views from an underwater wine cellar
  • Sail to Korčula to sample Croatia’s finest Pošip and Grk and explore the island’s historic Old Town, museums, art collections and beautiful secluded beaches
  • Tour the Pelješac peninsula to discover Croatia’s most distinguished wine growing areas and visit the world-famous Grgić Winery to try the award-winning Plavac Mali and Pošip

Croatian wine regions

Croatia has two main wine regions: continental and coastal. The coastal region, which stretches from Istria in the north to Dubrovnik in the south, offers a tremendous range of grape varieties that produce an infinite number of exquisite wines for oenophiles to sample.

The Croatian coast is divided into several sub-regions – Istria, Northern Dalmatia, Dalmatian hinterland, and Central and Southern Dalmatia. Each of these has a rich tradition of growing indigenous varieties and produces many unique wines, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Croatian winemakers grow both indigenous and international varieties and, with countless distinct microclimates on the hillsides and islands, each of the wines produced has an unmistakable character that reflects its geographic origin. Istria is mainly known for its fruity, dry white wines made from the local Malvazija variety, as well as for the dry reds, including the famous Teran, while Dalmatia is home to the vineyards that produce the world-famous Pošip and Plavac Mali, as well as many other Croatian and international grape varieties.

Sailing route for wine lovers

With the majestic cities of Split and Dubrovnik, the scenic Pelješac peninsula and the islands of Brač, Hvar, Vis and Korčula, Southern Dalmatia is Croatia’s top destination for wine enthusiasts.

Known for its white limestone and the spectacular pebble beach Zlatni Rat, the island of Brač harbours several acclaimed wineries. Stina winery in Bol produces a number of high-quality wines, including Plavac Mali, Pošip, Vugava and Opol. The vineyard is situated 400-500 meters above sea
level and offers amazing views of the Adriatic. Baković winery in Murvica is famous for its outstanding Plavac Murvica, one of the best of its kind in Dalmatia.

The island of Hvar hosts the Jelsa Wine Festival during the last weekend in August every summer, offering visitors a unique opportunity to try some of the best local wines and culinary delights. Tomić Winery in Jelsa, one of the best known Dalmatian winemakers, offers tours and tastings of its fantastic Plavac Mali, Bogdanuša and Pošip in its rustic wine cellars. Zlatan Otok winery in Sveta Nedjelja treats visitors to its award-winning wines in a unique underwater wine cellar and in the waterfront restaurant Bilo Idro, located next to the marina.

The idyllic shores of Vis produce some of Croatia’s best known indigenous white wines, Bugava (Vugava) and Rukatac. Roki’s winery, about 8 km from the town of Vis, is an excellent place to try these wines with delicious food cooked under a traditional peka (iron dome).

The island of Korčula is another wonderful destination for wine lovers. Covered with vineyards, olive groves, scenic villages and historic towns, the island is a unique gateway to experiencing the local culture and traditions. Korčula is home to some of the best varieties of Pošip, produced by the local winery Krajančić, as well as Grk and Plavac Mali, indigenous varieties grown by the winery Bire on the sandy terrain of Lumbarda.

The wine growing regions of the Pelješac peninsula – Dingač between the villages of Trstenik and Podobuče, and Postup near Orebić – harbour the best Croatian indigenous red wine grape, Plavac Mali, and produce two of the country’s most famous wines, Dingač and Postup. The wineries in the area include Grgić, Matuško, Bartulović, Dingač and Miloš. Established by Napa Valley winemaker Mike Grgich, the Grgić winery is the best known among them. Situated in Trstenik, a small village with an amazing view of the Adriatic, the winery produces Pošip, one of Croatia’s finest white wines, and Plavac Mali, twice recognized as the country’s best red wine.