Peljesac is the Napa Valley of Croatia.  We had a lot of fun and have been really impressed with some of the wineries we visited this winter.   Among those we visited are 3 distinctively different wineries:

Milos: Frano Miloš, master vintner, is one of the pioneers of the emerging boutique wineries, even though he produces less than 10,000 bottles a year. His family has been producing wine for over 500 years from the southern slopes of Peljesac – the perfect climate for Plavac Mali grape. A small winery just outside the medieval town of Mali Ston, he is producing only a few labels. His basic Miloš Plavac comes from grapes in the middle section of the hillsides while his Stagnum wines use only grapes from the top position of the vineyards. Frano Milos makes robust Plavac Mali reds, very drinkable summer Roses and a lovely sweet Stagnum.

One of Milos’ secrets is his use of large Slavonian wood barrels. He ages the wines first in the barrel then for a long period in the bottle, before he puts them on the market.

The 2006 Stegnum bottling has just been released. Wines: Plavac (P) and Stagnum (S).

Korta Katarina: Korta Katarina was started by an American family, who fell in love with the beauty of the vineyards, the sea and the islands of southern Dalmatia and especial of Peljesac. Korta Katarina is also a Grand Cro winery. Today the master winemaker and all the employees are Croatian. KK vineyards believes in environmental responsibility and is dedicated to natural farming techniques. They also adhere to traditional farming methods in the belief that the old Croatian ways will ensure optimum grape quality. And they must be right, because their Posip & Plavac Mali wines are some of the best in Croatia – winning awards around the world. The winery itself is large and modern, yet graceful with its indigenous architecture, local materials and design detail. Contrasted with the traditional wineries, Korta Katarina is more along the lines of what you might see in Sonoma Valley, California. The winery produces only a few labels (4 or 5) and less than 50,000 bottles a year. Wines: KK Plavac Mali, Posip, Rose Plavac,  Reuben’s Private Reserve.

Matusko: Mate Violic, owner and vintner, may be the bad boy of the Croatian wine industry, but his winery is one of the largest in the Peljesac area. Matusko bottles about 500,000 per year and produces nearly 20 labels of Dingac, Superior Cuvée Barrique, Plavac Mali, Posip, Rosé and Rukatac, including some really nice blends.

Matusko signature Donkey wines are great table wines – consistent and a good value.  Be sure to try the Royal Dingac – big flavor, strong, full bodied, and fruity – let it breath before tasting.