Croatia evokes visions of pebbly, windswept beaches and famous medieval towns like Dubrovnik and Split. Often called the Pearl of the Adriatic, shows like Game of Thrones have really put the nation on the map as a busy tourist destination. But despite the fact that tourism is booming, Croatian wine is relatively new to the international market. Many wine aficionados have never even had the chance to sample it — here’s why.

Some Croatian white wine varieties from the Peljesac Peninsula region. Photo by Lori Zaino.
Some Croatian white varieties from the Peljesac region. Photo by Lori Zaino.

Croatia doesn’t really export their wine

The country’s rocky soil is especially conducive to wine production, but harvests are small, so the country barely exports their wines. And while Croatian winemaking has a long history going back to Greek and Roman times, a combination of wars and Phylloxera (a grapevine pest) significantly reduced the amount of vineyards in the country’s four main regions (Uplands, Slavonia/Danube, Istria/Kvarner and the Dalmatia coastal region). This means there isn’t enough leftover wine to export once the country’s bars, restaurants and supermarkets have stocked their shelves.

A map of Croatia's wine regions. Photo by Lori Zaino.
A map of Croatia’s wine regions. Photo by Lori Zaino.

“We, here in Croatia don’t harvest a surplus of wine. Limited amounts are produced and we love our wine. We want to share it with the world, but there’s barely enough for us here inside the country, especially with the recent influx of tourists,” explained the bartender at Razonoda, a wine bar in Dubrovnik. There, I sampled some varieties from the nearby Peljesac Peninsula in Dalmatia, one of the most revered Croatian wine regions.

Vineyards in the Peljesac, part of the Dalmatian wine tasting region of Croatia. Photo by Lori Zaino.
Vineyards in the Peljesac, part of the Dalmatian wine tasting region. Photo by Lori Zaino.

You’ll have to visit Croatia to sample their wines

So what to do? You’ll just have to visit Croatia, try the wine there and take as many bottles home as possible – at least until their production levels and exports can keep up with international demand. With over 130 different grape varieties (40 of which are used for winemaking), you definitely won’t leave Croatia thirsty.


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For wine-obsessed travelers planning a trip to Dubrovnik, head out of the walled medieval city to wine taste and explore the Peljesac Peninsula. Many of the best wineries are a short drive away from the city itself. Wine tasting can easily be combined with a hilly hike, visit to a quaint village or an afternoon at a picturesque beach.

A Croatian sunset. Photo by Lori Zaino.
A Croatian sunset. Photo by Lori Zaino.

The Peljesac region is the perfect spot to wine taste

The seaside Peljesac region receives a unique amount of sunlight reflecting on the sea, land and clouds, with a sea breeze, contributing to the creation a dry micro-system. The dryness and heat helps the grapes grow in the stony soil. Some of the more famous wines like Dingac and Postup come from these seaside wineries with stonier soil. The wines themselves take their name after the places where they are found or the grapes they’re harvested from.

The sloping vineyards of the Peljesac. Photo by Lori Zaino.
The sloping vineyards of the Peljesac. Photo by Lori Zaino.

One of the most well-known grapes in Dalmatia’s Plejesac region is the Plavac Mali, which produces a deep red wine with a rather high alcohol content (13-15% ABV).  

Taste and tour around the walled village of Ston. Here, you can admire the steep vineyards built on a 45 degree incline overlooking the sea. The area is also famous for oysters, so you can sample some of those too. Make sure to visit Croatian wineries like Grgic, Milos and Marlais. Each have their own history and charm.

Posip wines. Photo by Lori Zaino.

Another interesting wine in the region is Pošip. These grapes were originally grown on the island of Korcula, but are now harvested all along the Dalmatian coast. Grk grapes are also indigenous to Korcula and are known as feminine grapes. This is due to their necessity to pollinate from other grape varieties in order to grow — and they have flowers. The resulting Grk wine, which is white, is typically tart or bitter to the taste.

Kormarna is a unique area in Peljesac where all the producers make organic wine. Stop to sip at Rizman Winery, which makes healthy and eco-friendly wine harvested from the Plavac Mali and Pošip grapes. 

Don’t forget to take some home

Since it’s much harder to buy the wines you’ve tasted outside of Croatia, plan to take some home. The best way to do so is using the Winetraveler-approved Vino Voyage TSA-Approved Wine Suitcase or the VinGardeValise Grande 12 Bottle Wine Travel Suitcase if you plan to bring home a full suitcase of bottles. For just a few, consider a Neoprene Bottle Protector, which holds two bottles and can fit in a suitcase. For just a bottle, try the Wine Skin, which lays flat in your suitcase until you blow it up to protect a bottle. 


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