A BC wine girl’s guide to drinking wine in Croatia. We at Foodietown.ca are so excited to bring you our newest contributor. She’s a must follow on Instagram for all things British Columbia (BC) wine! We first met Jenna at an Okanagan wine event called Battle of the Wines. We had been long time followers and watched as she discovered incredible Croatian wine and traveled to Spain and Portugal. Follow Jenna for more wine adventures throughout our province and beyond.
Be sure to check back as Jenna brings us to Portugal & Spain next time!
Prior to travelling Europe, I was aware that wine played a role in European culture but I had no idea just how significant and readily available wine is. There was a café, a bakery, and a wine bar around every single corner. My kind of place! Keep reading to find out the wines and the spots that were the most memorable during my time in Croatia!
The Croatian Wines
In Croatia, I stayed in the touristy towns of Dubrovnik, Korčula, Hvar, and Split. The Croatian wines I drank throughout my stay in Croatia actually reminded me a lot of BC wines, both in taste and in price—a 5oz wine near the top of the menu was costing around $10-18 CAD. Being in a touristy part of the country means paying a bit, or a lot, more for everything. But I heard that in northern parts of Croatia you can get a big glass of wine for around 50 cents!
Pošip, pronounced po-ship, is a popular Croatian white wine varietal that is widely grown around Dalmatia, the southern coast and islands of Croatia. Pošip typically has flavours of citrus, pear and apple with a hint of minerality. It is usually medium to full bodied with high acidity which makes it a super refreshing wine for the toasty weather of Croatia and an ideal summer patio pounder!
I had a number of different Pošips throughout my time in Croatia and they all reminded me so much of a Pinot Gris from BC with its heavy pear and citrus notes.
Grk, pronounced girk—unfortunately similar to needing to vomit—is a white Croatian varietal that is only grown on the island of Korčula. If you ask anyone in Korčula what wine to try, they will probably say Grk so it’s clearly a crowd favourite. Grk is typically dry, high in acidity and full of fruit flavours like stonefruit, passionfruit, lime, a little berry and sometimes a touch of salinity. It is DELICIOUS and kind of reminds me of a BC Bacchus!
When I say that Grk is only grown on Korčula, it is primarily only sold there too. This was devastating news as I got hooked and only brought one bottle of Grk off the island. But make sure to keep your eyes peeled because if you are lucky you might just find Grk on a restaurant wine list somewhere in the south west of Croatia.
Plavac Mali is the most planted and most well known red varietal grown in Croatia. Plavac Mali is named after it’s small (mali) blue (plavac) grapes. It is typically a dry, full bodied wine that is very high in tannins and high in alcohol—up to 17%! Does this sound familiar? Well Plavac Mali happens to share DNA with California Zinfandel. With flavours of dark cherry, plum, pepper, spice and herbs, people love it! But for me, it wasn’t my fave. I can definitely appreciate that there would be a time and place for this wine but not after drinking a glass of Grk on a sunny patio overlooking the vineyard on a 28-degree day. I will definitely give Plavac Mali another shot and I encourage you to as well because it was an experience and the locals seem to be really excited about this grape—but maybe not as excited as they are about Grk!
The Spots – Croatian wine bars and more!
Café Buza – Old Town, Dubrovnik
Quite possibly the best place that I have ever had a drink. After walking through an unmarked tunnel taking you through the outer walls of Old Town you are greeted with stunning views of the Adriatic Sea crashing into the rocks below the towering walls of Old Town. Small, uneven stone patios are carved from the cliffs where tables and chairs are perched overlooking the view. Order a drink then jump in the sea for a swim and return back to chair in your bikini because anything goes! It was the ideal way to spend an afternoon.
ARKA – Old Town, Dubrovnik
ARKA is a little restaurant near the bottom of the shame stairs IYKYK. They offer an impeccable ambiance, Croatian wine, a life changing burrata, delicious contemporary mediterranean cuisine that is plated to perfection and the people watching is prime. Being in such an ideal location, the restaurant is probably pretty overpriced but there are restaurants literally everywhere throughout Old Town and I stopped at ARKA twice in three days. I will let that speak for itself.
Vitis Winery – Lumbarda, Korčula
Vitis Winery was exactly as I imagined a tiny European winery to be. You slowly savour generous pours of wine on a little patio overlooking their vineyards and the Adriatic sea. Behind you is the vine covered stone-walled winery giving the perfect amount of shade on a warm early fall day. Directly in front is a garden where people are picking vegetables and herbs for the dinner they are serving later that day underneath the pomegranate tree on the edge of the terrace. It was divine.
Sabulum Winery – Lumbarda, Korčula
Sabulum was totally different than Vitis but equally good. Sitting up higher on the hillside Sabulum overlooks a different bay where the deep blue Adriatic Sea meets the jungly edges of the island. Opening it’s doors in July 2022, this winery had a much more modern flair with industrial light fixtures, stunning swooping fabric sunshades along the patio and the prettiest bathrooms you ever did see at a winery—seriously, the aesthetics of this place were on point. It may not have had that old world charm, but sipping wines while overlooking a bay peppered with sailboats is pretty darn memorable as well. Their Grk was the best we had and I was shocked to hear that it is the very first wine made by the winemaker! I imagine it’s only getting better from here.
LVXOR – Split
In a square inside of Diocletian’s Palace in Split, this outdoor bar was a highlight from the trip. Waiters are buzzing throughout the square taking orders and serving drinks while you sit on the stone steps enjoy the ambiance of live acoustic music as dim lights illuminate the ancient limestone brick buildings and marble columns surrounding the crowd. LVXOR is the most magical experience and I went all three nights for espresso martinis and amaretto sours. You can’t go to Split and not do this.
Have you been to Croatia? Have you tried Croatian wines? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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Born and raised in Langley, BC, I am the proud wine enthusiast That BC Wine Girl! While I am primarily focused on enjoying and promoting the amazing things that the local BC wine industry has to offer, my love of wine and travel collided in Europe where I was able to experience a lot of great food and fantastic old world wines. Just talking about wine gives me pure joy and I hope that I can impart some of that excitement with you!