There are lots of good Croatian wines. Assuming you are new to Croatian wines, I would recommend the following when buying in local stores:
- Be adventurous – when you are in restaurants and villages, try the local wines.
- When selecting wines in a store, check the temperature and storage. Sometimes the transport is not great, the bottles could have been left sitting in the sun before they were shelved or they could have been on the shelf too long. You might even ask the store owner how long a good bottle of wine has been on the shelf before you buy it.
- If you are having a special event, order well in advance. Croatia is a small country and wine distribution is often limited. So most stores (even large ones) do not carry a big stock. And the good wines run out long before the tourist season ends. Specialty wine stores will order directly from the winery for you.
See our page on AE Wine Picks for more about wineries and our favorite wines.
READING THE LABELS
Croatian wine labels can be confusing, not only because they are in Croatian ;-). The main things to look for are the quality rating, the characteristic of the wine, the varietal and the producer of the wine (sometimes hard to see on the label as it can be obscured by the region).
Three quality ratings appear on Croatian wine labels:
- Stolno (ordinary table wine)
- Kvalitetno (quality wine)
- Vrhunsko (premium quality)
These are roughly equivalent to the Italian ratings, IGT, DOC, and DOCG. The ratings are helpful when in the store, but I have found no good explanation of the details of the rating and we have found some great international award winning wines, which are rated Stolno.
- Suho Dry
- Polusuho Semi-dry
- Slatko Sweet
- Bijelo White
- Crno Red (literally Black)
- Rosa Rose
- Vinogorje Vineyard/grape-growing region
Primary White Wine Grapes
Grapes Debit • Grasevina • Malvazija • Marastinat • Muškat • Pinot Sivi (Pinot Gris) • Pinot Bijelo (Pinot Blanc) • Posip • Bogdanusa
Beware the Chardonnays, the cheaper ones bear little resemblance to expectations, the better ones can be fabulous, but very different if you are used to buttery California wines.
Primary Red Wine Grapes
Babic • Plavac Mali (relative of Zinfandel) • Refosk • Teran.
SOME LEADING CROATIAN WINERIES & WINEMAKERS
- Marjan Arman, Western Istria Dordano Persuric, Porec, Istria
- Marino Markezic, Kremenje, Western Istria Agrolaguna, Porec, Istria
- Brtonigl Cooperative, Brtonigla, Istria
- Vrbnik (Zlahtina wines), Kvarner
- Katunar (Zlahtina wines), Kvarner, Krk island
- Toljanic (Zlahtina wines), Kvarner,
- Frajona, Kvarner, Krk island and Western Istria
- Alen Bibic, Skradin Vinoplod, Sibenik
- Miljenko (Mike) Grgic, Peljesac
- Zlatan Plenkovic, Hvar island
- Andre Tomic, Hvar island
- Ivo Dubokivic, Hvar island
- Magdalena & Sasa Senjkovic, Brac island
- Hervoje Bakovic, Brac island
- Frano Milos, Peljesac
- Vedran Kiridžija, Peljesac
- Dingac Agricultural Cooperative, Peljesac
- Postup Agricultural Coopertave, Peljesac
- Milicic Winery, Peljesac
- Ivan Dolac vineyard, Hvar island
- Svirce Winery, Hvar island
- Faros, Hvar island
- Niksa Roki, Vis island
- Ivo Skaramusa, Peljesac
- Cara Agricultral Cooperative, Korcula
- Mario Mandek, Dubrovnik area
- Vladimir Korak, Zagreb area
- Mladina Winery, Mladina
- Tomac Winery, Jastrebarsko
- Bobijar Family, Globocki, Medimurje
- Vlado Krauthaker
- Kutjevacki Podrumi,
- Ilocki Podrumi, Srijem
- Dakovacka Vina, Slavonia
- Zeljko Adzic, Slavonia
- Davor Zdjelarevic, Brodski Sutpik, Slavonia