Top 5 wineries in Dubrovnik
Grapes have grown in Croatia since the days of the ancient Illyrians but its thought that the ancient Greeks were probably the first to introduce wine making to Croatia over 2,500 years ago. The Romans continued the practice, exporting Croatian wines around the empire. And the Middle Ages saw production expand even further, with towns and cities introducing strict rules to protect their vineyards. Today there are over one hundred indigenous grape varieties and at least 300 designated wine regions in Croatia that produce some of the best wines in Europe. And of those, the wines produced around Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian countryside regularly make wine lovers’ top ten lists. So whether you like a full-bodied red, a dry white or a fruity rosé, you can’t go wrong with a visit to one of the top wineries in Dubrovnik. Here are our favorite five.
Grgic Vina Winery in Trstenik
Nestled in the pine forests that carpet the hills above Trstenik, and with a stunning view out over the Adriatic Sea, the Grgic Vina Winery is one of Dalmatia’s most respected and prestigious vineyards. And it’s all down to its founder, Croatian-born Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, who has dedicated his vineyard to the art of Croatian wine making.
Miljenko, a legendary Napa Valley winemaker and native Croatian, established the winery 20 years ago in conjunction with his daughter, Violet. And since then the family has concentrated on producing the finest wines from the very best Dalmatian vines. Grapes used include the Plavac Mali variety that Grgich has proved is descended from the grape used to produce California’s Zinfandel, an old Croatian varietal called Crljenak Kaštelanski. The family also retains strong American links, owning the Grgich Hills Estate, a winery in California’s Napa Valley where renowned Fume Blanc, Chardonnay and Zinfandel wines are produced, however, if you fancy testing truly Croatian wines in their homeland to the north of Dubrovnik, then this has to top your wish list of wineries to visit in Dubrovnik!
Saints Hills Winery, Peljesac
Founded in 2006 by Ernest Tolj on the Pelješac peninsula to the north of Dubrovnik, the Saints Hills Winery produces highly individual, premium wines using indigenous Croatian grapes. Working with the help of French oenologist Michel Rolland, Saints Hills, the third of Tolj’s Croatian vineyards, is making a strong name for its wines, particularly its Saint Hills rosé made from the local Plavac Mali vine, its white, limited edition Nevina and the Saints Hills Dingač, aged in barrels for almost two years.
There is no question that this is one of the wineries in Dubrovnik that really knows how to combine passion with skill, ambition and a serious love of Croatia to produce classy wines with aplomb. Make sure you add Saints Hills to your bucket list since a visit to their barrel-filled cellars and the tasting room, overlooking the wonderful Pelješac countryside, is certainly something you’ll remember.
Korta Katarina Winery, Peljesac
The Korta Katarina winery is a wine lovers dream. Perched on the Peljesac peninsula, overlooking one of the most breath-taking coastlines in the Mediterranean, this Dalmatian treasure produces award-winning wines. And at just an hour outside Dubrovnik, it’s got to be worth a visit.
Americans Lee and Penny Anderson opened the winery in 2006 in the tiny coastal town of Orebic, where wine making traditions stretch back two millennia. The name links the Croatian kortas (gardens) with the Anderson’s family name of Katharine, and represents state-of-the-art wines made with a personal touch. Grapes are gently harvested by hand to avoid bruising before being fermented and then cellared in oak barrels. And the degree to which the barrel is used depends on the wine: for example, the Private Reserve Plavac Mali spends more time in new French oak barrels than the posip and rosé wines, giving each its own characteristically Croatian palate and style. And if you’re planning a visit, don’t miss the new wine bar and 10-suite Villa Katarina boutique hotel that opens in May 2017.
Miloš Winery, Peljesac
Staying on the long, narrow Peljesac peninsula, we turn to one of the oldest wineries in Dubrovnik: the Miloš winery, run by Frano Miloš and his sons. In truth it was quite probably the Miloš family who first introduced wine-making to the area around 500 years ago, capitalizing on the wonderful micro-climate and local Plavac Mali vine variety. And the tradition continues apace today, headed by the very modest head of the family.
The little, purple grapes of Peljesac lend their complex flavor to the Miloš’ Plavac Mali and their signature wine, Stagnum. Meanwhile Frano and his boys use only natural yeasts and Slavonian oak barrels to ferment and age the ruby-red wines, producing some extremely drinkable vintages and probably one of the most prestigious great wines in Croatia. Don’t miss these stellar wines produced by a gentle gentleman.
Grabovac Winery, Imotski
And finally, let’s head inland to the Grabovac Winery at Imotski in the heart of Dalmatia. Famous for two freshwater lakes – the Crveno Jezero (Red Lake) and Modro Jezero (Blue Lake) – set in two enormous natural sinkholes, the area is a popular destination for hikers and climbers. But in the world of wine, Imotski has generations of experience and tradition, especially in the Grabovac family who owns the biggest and most successful private winery in the area.
The family has been making wine here for over 200 years and the current father and son team, Ante and Milan, shows no signs of slowing down, having started a very successful festival dedicated to the local indigenous white wine and Grabovac favorite, Kujundžuša Sur Lie. The team clearly knows what they’re doing so don’t miss their Modro Jezero red that combines local Trnjak and Vranac grapes with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, or Dalmatia’s first sparkling wine, brought to the area in the Napoleonic era. And if you add this to your wish list of wineries in Dubrovnik, be sure to look out for their new, sparkling rosé coming soon!
Let’s raise a glass to the top 5 wineries in Dubrovnik!
As you can see, Dubrovnik and Dalmatia have plenty to offer the wine connoisseur. From centuries-old wineries that continue age-old traditions to new arrivals that blend local grapes with state-of-the-art techniques, you definitely won’t go thirsty! If you’d like to know more about Croatia’s great wines, our expert travel consultants are on hand to help you book a trip of a lifetime that will tickle your tastebuds with some tempting tipple. So raise your glasses and let’s get those corks popped!