A brief history
In recent years, Croatian wines have won numerous medals and amassed several awards at international renowned competitions. Many Croatian winemakers work passionately to communicate their expertise beyond the country borders.
If Croatia is a young state still, it has an ancient winemaking tradition that, although battered more than once in the history of the country, was able to continue to thrive.
The vine is grown there since ancient times on rocky slopes and cascading down steeply to the Adriatic Sea but also inland. The first vines were planted in the fourth century before Christ in the south, on the islands of Vis, Korcula and Hvar by the Greeks. Later, the Romans extended the culture of the vine to the mainland. Under Roman rule, the wine culture takes off and Croatian wines are marketed throughout the Empire and prosper until the Ottoman occupation. Under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Croatian wines suffer from the competition of Italian wines whose import is favored by former trade agreements. In Vienna, however, we find the Croatian white wine on the royal tables.
In 1874 an epidemic of phylloxera destroyed the vineyards. The tradition of the vine, deeply rooted in Croatia, gets reborn anyway and viticulture reaches its peak on the eve of the Second World War.
In communist Yugoslavia, the wine areas were brutally broken up and reduced.
In the 1990s, the war left deep wounds in the souls of men but also in the land moved by the bombs.
The Croatian vineyard now covers 33,000 hectares and produces 1.8 million hectoliters of wine per year. The wine-growing areas are divided into two areas (mainland and coastal), each of themselves divided into sub-regions and territories. The majority of wine surfaces consist of small vineyards. The country produces 70% white, 29% red wine and only 1% of rosé wine.
The Croatian vineyard shows one of the largest varieties of grapes grown in Europe, about 200 according to the official list of varieties. Besides the large number of indigenous grape varieties, almost all major global varieties were introduced and many show very good results. Zinfandel, mythical and original variety of Croatia belongs to these.
Croatian wines have three names: "table wine", "quality wine" and "wine of superior quality", the latter including "appellations d'origine contrôlée".
- In the mainland, the most common white grape is graševina, closely related to the Italian Riesling or Riesling Lasko. The graševina is grown in the vineyards of the Baranja region and the Ilok region to the extreme east of the country, in the vineyards of Kutjevo, around Đakovo in Central Slavonia and around Varaždin and around Zagreb.
The graševina gives fruity wines with abundant floral notes.
Other white grapes are Traminac and Pinot Blanc.
The most common in the inland areas are the red varieties Frankovka and Portugizac.
- In Istria, small peninsula in the northwest of the country, the most common varieties are the Malvasia for white wines and Teran for red wines.
- In Istria and northern Dalmatia, part of the vineyard was planted on red soil, which is rich in iron oxide. Vineyards planted outside these lands with read soil are called vineyards of the white land.
The Malvasia gives fine and elegant wines, with a pleasantly fruity fragrance with notes of fruits with white and yellow flesh and citrus.
- In the region of South Dalmatia along the Adriatic coast and islands, the Plavac Mali, indigenous grape variety, is considered the greatest in the country. Red wine produced from the Plavac Mali grape variety often bears the name of the locality where it is grown, such as Dingac or also Postup on the Pelješac peninsula.
The Plavac Mali gives intense wines with fruity sensations of small black fruits, fresh or in jam, supplemented by more herbaceous and spicy scents.
- On the island of Korcula and Hvar, also grow indigenous varieties like Pošip or Grk, white grapes.
- On the island of Krk, Žlahtina is the most famous white wine grape.