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Croatian Wine Regions

Croatian Wine Regions

Discover the Croatia Unknown Wine Regions. The Mediterranean Sea is home to some of the world’s most incredible landscapes, blue waters, flavorful dishes, and outstanding wines. With only 21 thousand square miles, the small but captivating country of Croatia epitomizes this bounty.

The Mediterranean Sea is home to some of the world’s most incredible landscapes, blue waters, flavorful dishes, and outstanding wines. With only 21 thousand square miles, the small but captivating country of Croatia epitomizes this bounty. A nation of just 4.1 million people. Croatia is widely touted for its idyllic islands, mountains, and waterfalls. While its long history of winemaking remains a secret to many. Now discover the Croatia Unknown Wine Regions.

Home to over 140 native grapes, exceptional wine is made in every corner of the country. Which is divided into four distinct wine regions. Istria & Kvarner and Dalmatia hug Croatia’s Adriatic coast. While the Croatian Uplands and Slavonia & Danube cover the northeastern continental area of the country.

Istria & Kvarner - Northwest Croatia

At first glance, much of the Istrian Peninsula and islands of Kvarner could be mistaken for their more famous neighbor, Italy. Boasting beautiful seaside towns, bays, and coastlines. The once Austro-Hungarian, Italian and Yugoslavian land of northwest Croatia is today a harmonious blend of cultures and landscapes. With the cool Alps to the north and the warm Mediterranean influence to the south. The varied climates and soils have both continental and coastal characteristics, making way for high-quality wines.

The most common grape of this ancient wine region is a tremendous and age-worthy white called Malvazija Istarka (Malvazija of Istria). Grown primarily along the Adriatic on the western part of the Istrian Peninsula. Malvazija makes intriguing, floral, fruit-forward, wines from bone dry and fresh, to sweet and unctuous.

A robust grape, Malvazija wines are complex. And often characterized by tropical fruit and peaches followed by a long, citrus peel finish. Unlike most whites in Croatia, Malvazija is sometimes macerated (fermented with the skins for some time, like a red wine). Making orange wines with decidedly more body, tannin, and structure. Malvazija’s true potential has increasingly been realized and has helped showcase the region as a premier destination for wine tourism.

Croatia Wine Region | Kvarner

Further south, the Kvarner area has a star white grape of its own called Žlahtina, a lower-alcohol grape from the island of Krk. As a counterpart to the medium to heavy-bodied Malvazija, Žlahtina is light, with notes of pear or citrus, a match for raw seafood.

Heading inland, the continental climate of central Istria is perfect for the native red Teran (or Terrano) grape. An earthy, rustic grape with high-acid and spicy notes, Teran is great when young and develops even more character and complexity when aged.

Praise of indigenous grapes like Teran has prompted a resurgence of attention and replanting of Croatia’s native grapes, including reds like Sansigot and Refošk. Like most of Croatia however, international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are also grown, along with Chardonnay, Yellow Muscat, Pinot Gris, Muscat, and Pinot Blanc.

Dalmatia - Southern Croatia

Dalmatia is Croatia’s most famous summer playground and home to the country’s oldest wine region, dating back 2,500 years. Situated along the Adriatic Sea, Dalmatia begins with the city of Zadar in the north, stretches to the border of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the east, and meets Montenegro in the south. Wine production is concentrated on the Pelješac Peninsula and islands of Hvar, Brač, Korçula, and Vis. Hvar is notably home to the world’s oldest continuously cultivated vineyard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In contrast to Croatia’s other wine regions, reds reign supreme in Dalmatia, specifically from indigenous grapes. Plavac Mali, a bold, dark fruit variety with high alcohol and lower acid is the most planted and iconic red of the region. These varietal wines show differently according to the microclimate and soil, ranging from light and crisp inland, to austere along the coast. The highest quality Plavac Mali come from sunny, steep vineyards overlooking the Adriatic, around Dingaç and Postup on the Pelješac Peninsula, Ivan Dolac on Hvar, and throughout Brač.

Wines of Dalmatia

Dalmatia is also home to Crjenak or Tribidrag, otherwise known as Zinfandel. 2002 studies haven recently proven that this well-known grape is indigenous to Dalmatia. It was later brought to Puglia, Italy, where it’s called Primitivo, and to the U.S. where it’s called Zinfandel.

One cannot mention Dalmatia without raving about the region’s native white, Pošip, originally from the island of Korçula. Often compared to Viognier. It's full-bodied with ripe fruit, flowers, and herbs along the coast, and lighter and more restrained inland. Additional native whites to try are Grk and Debit. As well as the fruity, high acid, red grape Babiç, grown along the central Dalmatian coast.

Dalmatia is Croatia’s most famous summer playground and home to the country’s oldest wine region, dating back 2,500 years. Situated along the Adriatic Sea, Dalmatia begins with the city of Zadar in the north. Stretches to the border of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the east and meets Montenegro in the south. Wine production is concentrated on the Pelješac Peninsula and islands of Hvar, Brač, Korçula, and Vis. Hvar is notably home to the world’s oldest continuously cultivated vineyard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Croatia Wine Regions | Dalmatia's Red Wine

In contrast to Croatia’s other wine regions, reds reign supreme in Dalmatia, specifically from indigenous grapes. Plavac Mali, a bold, dark fruit variety with high alcohol and lower acid is the most planted and iconic red of the region. These varietal wines show differently according to the microclimate and soil. Ranging from light and crisp inland to austere along the coast. The highest quality Plavac Mali comes from sunny, steep vineyards overlooking the Adriatic. Around Dingaç and Postup on the Pelješac Peninsula, Ivan Dolac on Hvar, and throughout Brač.

Dalmatia is also home to Crjenak or Tribidrag, otherwise known as Zinfandel. 2002 studies haven recently proven that this well-known grape is indigenous to Dalmatia, and was later brought to Puglia, Italy. Where it’s called Primitivo, and to the U.S. where it’s called Zinfandel.

One cannot mention Dalmatia without raving about the region’s native white, Pošip, originally from the island of Korçula. Often compared to Viognier, it’s full-bodied with ripe fruit, flowers, and herbs along the coast, and lighter and more restrained inland. Additional native whites to try are Grk, and Debit as well as the fruity, high acid, red grape Babiç, grown along the central Dalmatian coast.

One cannot mention Dalmatia without raving about the region’s native white, Pošip, originally from the island of Korçula. Often compared to Viognier, it’s full-bodied with ripe fruit, flowers, and herbs along the coast, and lighter and more restrained inland. Additional native whites to try are Grk and Debit. As well as the fruity, high acid, red grape Babiç, grown along the central Dalmatian coast.

Croatian Uplands - North-Central Croatia

White wine lovers - look no further. The Croatian Uplands region is a haven for crisp and clean white wines. From familiar international varietals and tasty native Croatian grapes. Sitting to the east of Slovenia and the southwest of Hungary. The Uplands wine region is located in north-central continental Croatia. Encompassing the Capital of Zagreb, and the surrounding appellations fanning out from the city in every direction.

The soil, hilly terrain, and cool climate conditions are essential to the Uplands’ high-quality winemaking. Cold winters and abundant sunlight are perfect for high acid, herbaceous expressions of still white wines. And provide excellent conditions for sparkling wines, especially in the Plešivica appellation. Equally as important, the region is comprised of small, family-run vineyards. Some of whom farm organically or biodynamically. Resulting in a truly diverse set of boutique wines and styles to delight every wine drinker.

If you love Grüner Veltliner, you will adore Škrlet, a bright and lively white from the Moslavina appellation. Fans of Riesling can dive into Pušipel or Moslavac (called Furmint in Hungary). A more complex, age-worthy white from the Međimurje appellation. In addition to indigenous wines, you are spoilt for choice amongst the Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Chardonnay vines. These dominate the hillsides along with the lesser-known Rhein (Rajnski) Riesling, Welschriesling, and Yellow Muscat grapes.

Light red aficionados can also find great Pinot Noir and Blaufrankish to try. No matter your preference, you will undoubtedly find a new favorite wine in this dynamic, premium wine region.

Slavonia & Danube - Northeastern Croatia

Nestled between Hungary, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, you will find the northeastern wine region of Slavonia and Danube. Spanning from the western cities of Virovitica and Daruvar to the Danube River in the east. The region produces the majority of Croatia’s wine, due to its many large-scale industrial wineries. Like the neighboring Uplands, white grapes dominate this region. Which is also revered for its Slavonian oak barrels, utilized by top European winemakers.

Grapevine Cultivation

Grapevines have been cultivated throughout Slavonia-Danube since Roman times. But thrive most notably in the Kutjevo appellation. In the shadow of a small mountain range in the center of the region. Here, Graševina (also known as Welschriesling), the most widely planted and iconic white grape of the region, does its best. Graševina is made in a wide range of styles. From the light and elegant green-fruit expressions in the central part of the region. To the full-bodied, ripe versions, including sweet and ice wines. In the eastern area near the Danube, Drava, and Sava rivers. The aromatic, full-bodied white Traminac (also called Traminer, from Gewürztraminer). It also takes root in the warmer eastern vineyard lands in the Ilok appellation along the Danube River.

International varieties have been increasing in popularity. With Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Rhein Riesling competing for their share of the market. Frankovka (Blaufrankish), a high acid, fresh red does very well in the eastern appellations. These with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, have a long way to catch up to the whites of the region.

We hope you are curious to discover Croatia Unknown Wine Regions.


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