NOTE: This is a guest post by Anna Maria Kambourakis of Unraveling Wine.
With its vast coastline and islands, incredible food, and picturesque cities it is no wonder Croatia is an obvious choice for travelers. However, what you might still don’t know is that Croatia is fast becoming the trendiest place for wine travel.
With three distinctive main wine regions, a mild, Mediterranean climate, and ancient history in wine production, there’s no way you leave the country without at least visiting one of the many amazing wineries in the country. Not sure where to start from? Then check this guide to the best Croatian wineries you should discover if you’re visiting!
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Where to Stay in Croatia
Here are our recommendations for where to stay in Dubrovnik. We’re in the process of creating comprehensive guides on where to stay in other Croatian cities, but for now, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible since this is a popular time to visit the city.
The Best Winery Experiences in Croatia
During the last years, Croatia has turned into a unique destination for wine experiences. Since its independence in 1991, Croatian winemakers have been hard at work to continue the winemaking tradition that was interrupted by the turmoil of the Yugoslav wars. Croatia has a long grape-growing history; the Ancient Greeks planted the area in the 5th Century BC.
Wine geeks have been fawning over Croatian wines for years. Croatia boasts over 400 indigenous grape varieties and 300 wine-producing areas.
The influx of tourism mixed with the interest in Croatian wines encouraged the wineries to renovate and open up their doors to wine lovers and wine newbies from around the world. Visiting a winery when you travel is a great way to get to know the local people, cultures, and cuisine. The Croatian wine experience is not to be missed.
Wineries near Zagreb
It’s my personal philosophy to start everything with bubbles! The cold continental climate near Zagreb makes it the perfect growing temperature for grapes to make sparkling wine.
The endless green of the hills as you make your way to Plešivica is magical. The grapes will be familiar to you as they use many international varieties for their wines. These wineries are located within minutes of each other, so you can easily visit all 4 in a day.
In the Plešivica region, you’ll find the family-owned Korak Winery. Their use of international varieties makes it a great place to start if you’re just dipping your toe into Croatian wine. The winery is known for its sparkling wines made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the same grapes they use in Champagne.
The winery also produces wines from Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. The newly renovated winery includes a luxurious tasting area and restaurant. They offer several different packages to enjoy their wines on the estate.
When visiting, you must have a romantic picnic for 2. They fill up a picnic basket with delicious pastries and local cheeses and, of course, wine. The view of the rolling hills of vineyards from the restaurant and tasting area is spectacular.
Tasting prices with snacks start from 200kn. Reservations can be made on their website or email them at email@example.com.
Location: Plešivica 34, 10450, Jaska, Croatia.
Want to spend an afternoon with a winemaker? Krešimir Ivančić of Griffin Winery will happily spend two hours showing you his winery and tasting his award-winning wines.
Ivančić is a champion for the neglected local varieties of Plešivica like Blauer Portugieser and Rizvanac. His most intriguing wine is the Coral Griffin which is a sparkling wine that is aged at the bottom of the Adriatic sea! The algae and coral decorate the bottle. It’s too cool to miss.
The winery does not have a website but Krešimir can be reached via their Facebook page. The visit is 300 kn per person, 2 hour minimum time, and it includes snacks.
Location: Plešivica 62, 10450, Plešivica, Croatia.
Sember Winery is truly a family affair. Husband and wife team, Zdenko and Ivanka, run all aspects of the winery together with their children, Nikola and Lucidja.
Their small tasting terrace is so intimate, you feel like you’re visiting friends. The Sember family makes sparkling and still wines. They also produce a wine that is fermented in qvevri, the ancient clay vessels used thousands of years ago in what is modern-day Georgia.
Their tasting package includes a guided tasting of 5 of their wines with homemade snacks. The price per person is 150 kn. There are group discounts available and reservations are required. If you want more info, check their website.
Location: Donji Pavlovčani 11b, 10450, Jastrebarsko.
This winery is one of the most instagrammable spots in Plešivica. You will feel instantly welcome at Winery Jagunić. The warm and hospitable Jagunić family has been making wine in Plešivica for generations.
They were one of the first in the region to begin bottling their wines. They have an array of sparkling and still wines to taste from local and international varieties. Their wine tasting package includes 6 wines plus meat and cheese platter and it’s 120 kn per person.
Location: Plešivica 25 10450 Jastrebarsko.
The Wineries of Istria
The Istria wine region is a shooting star for Croatian wine. Not only is the landscape stunning but the wines are fantastic. There are nearly a hundred wineries on this little peninsula! While you can throw a stone and hit a winery, I’ve highlighted the best wine experiences below.
Take in the gorgeous views and incredible architecture at Kozlovic Winery. Everything from your first communication with the winery until you say goodbye is professional and warm.
There are a number of different ways to experience Kozlovic Winery. You can casually taste their wines and take in the hillside or arrange a tour ahead of time (guided tours require a reservation). A five-course tasting menu by famous Croatian chef, Zdravko Tomišić, is an excellent choice to taste through all their wines. Tastings start at 190 kn. Reservations are required, so check their website.
Major plus: they are pet-friendly!
Location: Vale 78, Momjan, 52460 Buje, Istra – Hrvatska.
A haven for wine geeks, Kabola winery makes modern and quirky wines using ancient methods like aging the wines in underground amphora. Since 1891, they have had a hands-off approach to winemaking.
The wines let the land and the grapes speak for themselves. Kabola Winery offers 4 different tasting packages starting from 80 kn for the basic tasting, but I highly suggest upgrading to a private VIP experience for only 250 kn. More info in their site.
Location: Kanedolo 90, Momjan, 52460 Buje Hrvatska.
Roxanich Wine and Heritage Hotel
Wine tasting? Check. Restaurant? Check. Designer hotel? Check. Hammam? Check!
Roxanich Winery has a long winemaking tradition and has since added a boutique hotel and restaurant with a focus on local produce and Istrian cuisine. The emphasis remains on producing excellent wines though.
There are seasonal special offers and packages to choose from including off-road vineyard tours, elegant wine dinners, or even truffle hunting! This is a great place for a girls’ weekend or romantic getaway. You can also make a reservation for a simple wine tasting or book an unforgettable stay in one of their suites!
Location: Kanal 30, 52424 Motovun.
Meneghetti Wine Hotel & Winery
After a long day of sightseeing, cycling, or wine tasting, there is no better place to rest your head than Meneghetti Wine Hotel & Winery. This luxurious yet cozy winery hotel has a spa and restaurant as well.
They pay careful attention to their visitors’ needs and trends in the travel sector. For example, they’ve mapped out biking paths for their guests so this is a must-go spot for cyclists. The choice is yours! Indulge in all their offerings or simply have a glass of wine by the pool.
Location: Stancija Meneghetti 1, 52211 Bale, Istria.
Day Trips from Dubrovnik
Not too far from the city of Dubrovnik is the Peljesac peninsula. This is an ideal place for grape growing because the vineyards are situated on steep slopes with full exposure to the sun to ripen.
The famous grape of the region is Pavlac Mali. It makes a bold, rich red wine. There are many wineries in the area. Some winemakers even have small stalls set up along the roads to taste and sell their wines. Here are five options to spend the day wine tasting.
Grgić Vina was founded by world-famous winemaker, Mike Grgrich. It was the Chardonnay that Grgrich’s made at Chateau Montelena that stunned the world and won the Judgement of Paris in 1976. This was a pivotal moment for the Napa Valley wine industry.
Grgrich was born in Croatia and went to school for winemaking at the University of Zagreb. In 1996, after all his success and acclaim in California, Grgrich together with his daughter Violet and nephew, Ivo, founded Grgić Vina. It was important to Grgich to focus on the local white grape Pošip and local red grape Pavlac Mali.
Grgrich was convinced the Californian grape, Zinfandel, must be related to Pavlac Mali. Of course, he was right. Zinfandel is the parent grape to Pavlac Mali. The winery is perched on a peninsula with a 270-degree breathtaking view of the Adriatic Sea.
In their tasting room, they offer both of their wines plus a selection of wines from their sister winery in Napa. The winery is only a ten-minute walk from the port if you’re arriving at Pelješac by boat. Wine tasting starts at 50 kn, check more info at their website.
Location:Trstenik 78, 20 245 Trstenik, Poluotok Pelješac.
Milos Winery is a family-owned winery with a very long winemaking tradition. You’ll be greeted and served by the family members for an unforgettable wine tasting. It’s a unique experience to hear the family history from the 5th generation.
The winery is built into the rocky mountainside. The exposed rocks help to regulate the temperature for the ideal climate to age their wines.
Make sure to take some pictures in the cavernous wine cellar! There’s a short film in the tasting room so you’ll see the life of the vine throughout the year. There is not a food option at the winery, so make sure you have already eaten. Tasting starts at 50 kuna, check here for more information.
Location: Boljenovići 15, 20230, Ston.
Matuško Winery makes your wine experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. The road signs make it easy to find and their online reservation system makes it even easier to book. The wines are some of the best in the region with an emphasis on Pavlac Mali.
Matuško is famous for its cellar with wine barrels as far as the eyes can see. The rustic setting is wonderful for any of their 3 tasting options. Indulge in the full package which includes 4 wines and a generous portion of local meat and cheeses. Tastings start at 35 kuna,
Location: Potomje 5, 20244, Potomje.
Korta Katarina Winery
The best way to describe Korta Katarina is heaven on earth. If you want to feel like a king or queen, a stay at Korta Katarina will do the trick. The winery has luxurious accommodations, a gourmet restaurant, spa, and wine bar complete with a fire pit, all accompanied by a view of the Adriatic sea.
Their tasting packages are decadent and educational. You’re in luck, there are six to choose from. The Wine and Chocolate pairing is a must. If you’re hungry, check out the five-course tasting menu with paired wines.
If you really want the royal treatment, book their yacht for you and your friends!
Location: Ulica bana Josipa Jelačića 3, Orebić, 20250.
Staying on the Coast
Lastly on this wine tour of Croatia, are the wineries on the Dalmatian coast between Split and Zadar. This coastal wine region prides itself on the local grape varieties. Kaštelanski Crljenak, Plavac Mali, Dobričić, Debit, and Maraština are the ones to try.
Want to taste the wine that got Anthony Bourdain blackout drunk? Well, then you’ll need to visit Bibich Winery. Once you’ve tasted their gorgeous wines, you’ll understand why Bourdain got carried away.
They are famous for their white wine from the Debit grape. Very few wineries make wine exclusively from this local variety, so you’re in for a treat.
The winery has a small bistro where you can enjoy the wines with tapas or have a wine cocktail under the pergola. Reservations can be made by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Location: Zapadna Ulica 63, 22222, Plastovo.
A very short drive outside of Zadar, among the many trees and rolling hills, you’ll find Degarra Winery. The name Degarra is a tribute to the garagiste winemakers in France who literally made wine in their garages. The garagistes threw long-standing traditions out the window and began making wines they were passionate about.
Degarra Winery is as rebellious as it is passionate. The winery is built in an old military barrack and has a cool industrial feel. Every year they strive to bring “new and original” wines to the market. They serve a great charcuterie board along with their wine tasting. 160 kuna per person.
Location: Put Vrela bb, 23000, Zadar.
This family-owned winery is entering its 4th generation. The winery is quaint, intimate, and welcoming. Vina Sladić is located at the perfect altitude to create crisp and refreshing wines. They specialize in the local white grapes Debit and Maraština, and red grapes Plavina, and Lasina.
You can enjoy the wines along with some homemade cured meats, olives, breads, and chocolate cake!. Ante will take great care of you. Send him an email to let him know you’re on your way at email@example.com.
Location: Plastovo, Sladići 29, 22222, Skradin.
Location: Frane Franića 14, 21214, Kaštel Kambelovac.
Enjoy the breathtaking views from the tasting area of Bedalov Winery. You can see the Adriatic sea, the Dalmatian islands, and the city of Split while sipping on their elegant organic red wines from the local grapes Kaštelanski Crljenak, Pavlac Mali, and Dobričić.
Enjoy a wine tasting led by one of the family members in their vineyards. The family is always cooking up something delicious to pair with their wines. Reservations are required. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you can see, there’s a lot going on in the Croatian wine scenario that you shouldn’t miss when visiting the country. No matter whether you’re a wine aficionado or not, this guide to the best wineries in Croatia is a useful resource to plan your wine tasting experiences in one of the most exciting places in the Balkans.
More Croatia Travel Resources
Headed to Croatia? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Croatia, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Croatia packing list with a detailed season-by-season tips. If you’re feeling adventurous, instead, read about the best hikes in Croatia.
If you’re still putting together your itinerary, here’s a great list of places to visit in Croatia, our Croatia national parks guide, and Croatian waterfalls guide to help you choose. We also have a day trip guide for Dubrovnik and Split if you’re to be visiting these cities as well.
Next, check out our Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Croatia and local tipping customs.
If this will be one of your first trips in the Balkans, check out our massive list of things to know before traveling the Balkans as well as our Balkan bus, road trip, and itinerary guides.
5 Things you Shouldn’t Forget to Pack for Croatia
We have a full list of what to pack for Croatia, but here are five things you want to bring with you!
The Lonely Planet Croatia: a good guidebook can help you with the kinds of tips you need if you’re out exploring Croatia and feel a bit lost, especially if you don’t have internet or a cell signal. These also have recommendations for the major sites in Croatia, which will come in handy if you’ll be visiting more than one Croatian city or island.
Unlocked Cell Phone: Allison and I both have unlocked cell phones that we bought in Europe (I use a Samsung and she uses an iPhone). This allows up to get sim cards when we travel so that we always have the internet.
Being able to pick up a Croatian sim card is a great way to stay in touch while on the road. If you don’t have an unlocked cell phone that can use a Croatian sim card, you can buy a cheaper unlocked phone online and bring it with you! Note that Croatia is part of the EU so if you have an EU phone plan, your phone should work in Croatia
Pacsafe Citysafe or Other Anti-Theft Bag: This is the bag both Allison and I use. It has a pouch with RFID technology so our credit cards can’t get scanned from afar, interlocking zippers to make it harder to pickpocket, and it’s roomy enough to be a perfect sightseeing day bag. If you’d rather bring something smaller, you can pack a money belt instead.
This is especially handy in Dubrovnik and Split where tourist sites are crammed and anyone who looks like an obvious tourist is a potential target.
Grayl Water Filter: Being on the road means staying hydrated. If you want to avoid having to buy lots of single-use plastic water bottles, bring a reusable one with you. If you’re concerned about drinking the local tap water (or you don’t love the taste) grab one with a reusable water filter built right in. While water in Croatia is drinkable in general, there may be small islands where it’s not recommended, so it can come in handy. I always ask a local about the tap water conditions and what they recommend.
Sea bands: If you get seasick easily, pack some Sea bands or seasickness pills so you can go island hopping without getting sick. A trip to Croatia isn’t complete without at least one day spent in the islands, so make sure you’re prepared to enjoy it to the fullest!
Headed to Croatia? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Croatia (or really, any part of the world) — especially if you’re hiking! We have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe.
About the Author
Anna Maria is a Certified Sommelier and owner of Chania Wine Tours. She recently started a useful wine blog called Unraveling Wine. For Anna Maria, travel is all about eating and drinking. She loves exploring famous wine regions as well as up-and-coming wine destinations.
Pin this Guide to the Top Croatian Wineries for Your Trip!
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.