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Feb 26, 2008 11:41 AM

Croatian wine producer?

I'm going to be in Split/Hvar this spring. I want to do a wine tasting but time may not allow for it. Even if I can't do a tasting, I would still like to bring home a couple of bottles of Croatian wine. I have heard good things about wines made with the Plavac Mali grape (supposed to be a relative of Zinfandel). Assuming I can't try any to taste for myself before buying, can anyone tell me the names of a few good producers to look for in a wine shop? I am posting it here instead of in the International board since from what I've read, CHOW winos really know their stuff about wines from all parts of the globe!
Thanks in advance!

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  1. Grgic Vina is a winery that is owned by Miljenko "Mike" Grgich of Napa Valley fame. Originally from Croatia, he has a new winery there as well as Grgich Hills in California. He makes a white wine from Posip, and the red is Plavac Mali -- a cousi of Zinfandel.

    If you can't visit the winery, I'd pick up a bottle of his wine -- or at least feel confident in ordering it in a restaurant while you're there.


    3 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      I had a feeling it would be you or Maria Lorraine that would answer my question ;)
      Thank you!

      1. re: jcoz23

        Checking in...but not much to add. Yes, Mike Grgich is doing his thing in his native Croatia. The genetic precursor to Zin is from Croatia as Jason says, so those are two options to pursue. You may receive a fair education just from the bistro places where you dine -- observe what the locals are drinking and try those wines. Take notes. There's a wine school there somewhere -- that might be a good source of info. Finally, here's a good website that describes the wine regions and grapes:

      2. re: zin1953

        You stole my "thunder." However, I have had "Mike" serve me his best Coatian wines, and they were sill lacking. However, this was some years back, so things might have changed in the interim.


      3. Hm... you might have problems actually doing tastings unless you go to a winery. You will find some of the wines in stores in neighbourhood stores in major Croatian cities.

        As well, you can also buy Croatian wines in major US cities. I know that there is an excellent little wine store in Astoria in NYC as well as this random wine store in Washington, DC (just southeast of the Capitol) where I found some excellent wines.

        I am also attaching links from a Croatian website that you can check out for specific wines. However, only look for these wines in the stores.

        Look for Plavac Mali from Hvar:
        Major winery is Plenkovic.

        Also, try the Plancic winery.
        Plančić Desertni Parč. This is a dessert wine made from grape varietal Parč which is indigenous to the Dalmatian coast and I believe the island of Hvar.

        Also try Plenković Prošek. This is another dessert wine (name is similar to the Italian Prosecco) but the taste is definitely a lot different. This is most definitely a dessert wine, not sparkly at all... it is difficult to compare to anything North American because it is not produced the same way as ice wines for example. Also the sweetness is perhaps not as subtle.

        I have also heard great things about Bastijana Tomić but I have not tried any of their wines.

        There are several other wineries from Hvar that I have come across, but have not tried their wines. It is definitely worth taking a risk and trying their wines.

        Also, as far as other Croatian varietals are concerned, definitely pick up an Istrian Malvasia (white).

        From the island of Vis, you should probably try Lipanović Vugava.

        From the island of Mljet or the Peljesac peninsula you should try Dingač (red). This is generally a very flavourful and full bodied red. No specific wineries to recommend. Mike Grgich of Napa Valley has a winery on Peljesac that is referred to in the following message. You should be able to find some of those vintages in stores in the USA.

        Also, in Hvar, definitely try some really good local wines. If you end up on Pakleni Otoci (Hell's Islands) find the Tartaja family. They make some really good wine on the island of Marinkovac.

        Greetings from Canada. Let me know how it pans out.

        1 Reply
        1. re: crazycroat

          Thank you SO much! I will definitely bring this information with me and check some of these wines out.

        2. I wish i had more to offer than this, but a buddy of mine conducts monthly tastings in Philadelphia and, within the last 12 months, included Ziahtina Katumar White 2003 ... he loved it.


          1. Bastijana is a bit overrated. The wines are good, but not worth the press nor the price.

            On Hvar your best bets are the top of the line Plenković and Svirče wines. They're cheap compared to Napa prices, but relatively affordable in the region as a whole.

            On Brač and also on the mainland, keep an eye out for wines by Baković. He's a hidden gem.

            Further down the coast, most anything from the Dingač region is going to be good if it's Vrhunsko level wine. Kunjašić is a great local producer in Potomje on the Pelješac Peninsula.

            Avoid the Vino Rakija guys. Avoid the Stolno level wines as well. There are some good bargains to be found at that level, but you really need to know the years and regions for the grapes to get something good.

            Drink as much Prošek as you can. That's very hard to find outside of Croatia and it's very good dessert wine. Just don't be cheap about it. Good Prošek is expensive since it's about seven times the grapes to make it than regular wine.

            Also, don't haul back wines. I dragged half a case out of Croatia in a suitcase once and it just isn't worth it. You can find them imported in the US in great abundance:


            2 Replies
            1. re: bdwine

              Oh well, too late for that... I was in Croatia last week & now I'm back. Thank you for the link to that website, it looks great! I only brought back two bottles though from Croatia, so it was not a big deal to transport (I also went to the Valpolicella region in Italy so I wanted to save room in my luggage for a couple of bottles of Amarone, too). One of the bottles I brought back from Croatia was a Plenkovic Plavac Mali, I did not get the opportunity to taste it first, but from what I've read from you and others it will be good :)

              1. re: jcoz23

                Yes, it will undoubtedly be good at the very least. If it will be excellent depends on which level it is as there are three of them for this wine. They are all Vrhunsko (top level by Croatian ratings) and while the basic level is good, when you move up in to the second, which is usually called the Barrique you start getting something quite good and if you managed to pick up the Grand Cru, then you've got yourself a real gem. That's one of the best wines in all of the Balkans right now. While it will age for probably another 3-5 years, drink it whenever you get the chance.

            2. I'll be visiting Croatia this summer and wondering if there have been any noteworthy developments on the Croatian wine front in the two years since this thread was last active.

              Although interested in trying some of the better Plavac Mali wines, I'm especially keen on Prozec, dry whites and fine sweet whites. Local varieties and styles are more interesting to me than international varieties and styles unless truly exceptional.

              I'll likely be in Split, possibly Zagreb. Is it safe to assume that wines from all regions are available throughout the country, or do merchants tend to specialize in their own region?

              Note that I'm in a part of Canada where precisely zero Croatian wines are available.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Mr F

                Contact Damir by Email,
                He is a wine advocate in Croatia, and I have had good results from him in the past.

                1. re: Aishling

                  Thank you. Based on that I found his website (, which is helpful in itself even though my Croatian is limited to a few bits of wine vocabulary.

                  1. re: Mr F

                    If I can suggest, in USA you can buy wines from winery owned American family Anderson. Name of the winery is KORTA KATARINA. Since 2006, when they start they first production they become one of the most important wineries in Croatia. Top production only. Their wines are available in USA by Kathrine's gardens company in MN. Excellent Plavac mali and Posip.