For some, Croatia might be flying a little below the radar as its wines aren’t always to get hold of outside the country. So, whether you’re planning a trip and what to prepare the question what to expect and what to drink or you’re simply curious, here is an overview on the wines of Croatia.
If you don’t want to listen into our deep dive with Bruno Trapan from the north-western part of the country, here is what you‘ll need to know about the wines of Croatia in general and Istria more specifically:
- Croatia neatly sits the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe with its coast entirely on the Adriatic Sea. The country borders Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Italy to the west and southwest.
- Wine is produced in three regions, Eastern Continental (Istočna kontinentalna), Western Continental (Zapadna kontinentalna) and Coastal (Primorska), where you also find Istria.
- In 2021, the vineyard surface area was 23,063 hectares.
- There are about 60,000 farmers working this area, but only a few have more than forty hectares.
- The country’s biggest producer is the Agrokor group accounting for more than 30% of Croatia’s total production.
- The total production in 2021 was 526,000 hl, making it the 34th biggest producer globally.
- The vast majority of production is consumed in the country itself with exports amounting only to 7,2%.
- Known for its diversity of varieties, across Croatia 200 are planted of which about 40 are autochthonous.
- The big three varieties make up almost 50% of the total area under vine.
- The most important white varieties are Graševina (Riesling Italico / Welschriesling), Malvazija Istarska, Rizling Rajnski (Riesling), Chardonnay, Debit, Pošip Bijeli, Malvasia Bianca Lunga, Kraljevina, Sauvignon Blanc und Gewürztraminer.
- The most important red varieties are Plavac Mali, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Plavina Frankovka (Blaufränkisch), Babić,Terrano/Refosco, Syrah, Pinot Crni (Pinot Noir), Vranac und Tribidrag (Zinfandel in California, also known locally as Crljenak Kaštelanski).
- Istria is the largest peninsula within the Adriatic Sea located in the north east between the Gulf of Trieste and the Kvarner Gulf. With most of it belonging to Croatia, but also shared by Slovenia and Italy.
- The wine making region of Istria is more precisely called Istra and Kvarner
- The climate is mild Mediterranean with cooling winds blowing down from the Alps
- Soil is rich in iron (terra rossa).
- The region mostly produces white wine made of Malvazija Istarska (
- Red wine is a little less important but the bold wines made of Teran (aka Terrano or Refošk should not be overlooked.
Do you want to know more about the wines of Istria? Listen to the episode with Bruno Trapan!