Best Croatian Wines & The Wineries That Produce Them

Croatia’s coastline and gem-like islands not only provide a setting for a memorable trip with spectacular scenery and fascinating history, but the ideal backdrop for a wine-soaked getaway. While those outside of the region may not be familiar with Croatian wines, viticulture holds a long legacy here. One of the reasons may be that their names are difficult to pronounce, with characters like č or ž, but once you sample them, they’re likely to be at the forefront of your mind long after your visit.

You’ll find many wineries for tasting the country’s fantastic wines, whether you’ll be visiting independently, embarking on an excursion that’s part of a small ship cruise, or any other way you’d like to explore. One of our favorite ways, other than chatting with winemakers directly, is to sample them on a home-hosted visit that includes the chance to help a family matriarch prepare a multi-course meal complemented with local wine. But no matter what your itinerary, before you embark on your escape, you’ll want to know about these top Croatian wines and the wineries that produce them to make the most of your time.

All About the Grapes

White Grapes, Croatia
Red Grapes, Croatia

The grapes grown in Croatia change with the climate and culture. The main wines on the Istria Peninsula are red Teran and Borgonja, and white Malvazija Istarska. Further south, the red grape Babić is common along with versatile white Pošip which was originally grown in Korčula. Zinfandel, which may be called Crljenak Kaštelanski or Tribidrag depending on the specific location, tends to be spicy. The area around Dubrovnik is dominated by Plavac Mali with a savory, fig-flavored profile.

Croatian Wines to Get Familiar With

Red wine, Dubrovnik
Local wine

There are more than five dozen distinct grape varieties, over 800 wineries, and nearly 20,000 registered winemakers in Croatia. While you may not have the time to learn about them all, you’ll want to put these on your must-sample list.

Babić
Babić is a full-bodied red wine made from blue/red grapes grown in the Šibenik region. It has a distinct taste and strong density with aromatic spices and traces of plums, figs, and berries.

Bogdanuša
Translating to “gift from God,” Bogdanuša is a white wine produced on Hvar Island with a light, refreshing taste and floral aroma.

Borgonja
A dry, medium-bodied red from Istria made from the purple-colored Gamay grape.

Debit
A golden wine made from yellow grapes grown along the north and central coasts of Croatia, Debit has a wonderful citrus herbal taste. As it matures, it starts to resemble vermouth.

Dingač
A robust red wine from the Pelješac Peninsula, Dingač is a high-quality dark red to purple wine often selected for special occasions. Made from the Plavac Mali grape, it has a nice fruity flavor.

Malvazija
Malvazija is another favorite, a dry white wine grown in the Istria region. The flavor is intense and the citrus aroma enticing. As it pairs with just about anything, it’s one of the most popular Dalmatian wines.

Plavac
Plavac Mali can be found on menus throughout Croatia as another one of the top red wines with a rich flavor of ripe cherries, pepper, and spice notes. It matures well and has a high percentage of both tannins and alcohol.

Pošip
Pošip is a white wine produced on Hvar and Korcula islands known for its strong notes and aroma. Fresh and fruity, it’s surprisingly refreshing.

Teran
A native grape from Istria, Teran is a powerful red with red fruit flavors, pleasant acidity, and soft tannins.

Top Wineries to Visit

Winery, southern Brac, Croatia
Korcula, Cruise Croatia

Tomic Winery, Hvar
One of the most popular family-run wineries, the picturesque Tomic vineyard is located in the small coastal town of Jelsa. It produces wines made from indigenous grapes, including Plavac Mali, Posip, and Bogdanusa, along with internationally known wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Its signature wine is Prosek, the original Dalmatian dessert wine. Vintner Andro Tomic is one of the most innovative and highly acclaimed in Croatia.

Bibich Winery, Skradin
Boasting a beautiful setting in the Skradin wine region near Sibenik, it’s worth visiting Bibich for the scenic drive alone. The vineyards date back some 500 years and are processed traditionally with minimal intervention. Owner Alen Bibich enjoys chatting with visitors about the traditional wines he makes from indigenous grapes while pouring 100 percent local, red- and white-focused options.

Kozlovic Winery, Istria
Located in the Tuscan-like Istrian Peninsula, Kozlovic Winery has been run by the same family for generations. From the winery building, visitors can enjoy a view of the vineyards where grapes like Teran, Muskat Momjanski, and Malvazija Istarska are grown. Gianfranco Kozlovic likes to give tours through the winery while revealing the challenges of the process and how such tasty wines result.

Fakin Winery, Istria
Fakin is an intimate winery for enjoying an authentic personal experience, with the winemaker or a family member often greeting visitors before pouring a glass of Teran or Malvazija.

Rizman Winery, Peljesac
Rizman is owned by the Stimac family, a famous name in Croatia as football (soccer) player Igor Stimac owns it. The Stimac’s winemaking roots date back to the grandfather, Mihovil Mijo Popich, who was called Rizman. The tasting room, where one can try Posip, Plavac Mali Primus, Tempranillo, and more, offers epic views of the sea from a fabulous terrace.

You may be interested in