Five wineries in the Istria region of Croatia
In recent years, you may have begun hearing more about Europe’s burgeoning Istria wine region. It’s interesting to note that the Istrian peninsula – made up of Slovenia, Italy, and mostly (about 90%) Croatia – is one of the oldest winemaking regions in Europe, the first grapes having been introduced by the Greeks as early as the 6th century BC. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that the political climate changed, making serious quality wine production a viable undertaking.
Located less than 60 miles west across the Adriatic Sea from Venice, Istria benefits from a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers, short mild winters. Paired with centuries of experience and passion, a deep-rooted wine culture, and an increasing interest in travel to Croatia, Istria is poised to reclaim and build upon its winemaking heritage.
Unlike the wines of Italy with countless local grape varieties, Istria wineries tend to concentrate primarily on two indigenous grapes – Malvasia Istriana (white) and Teran (red). But Malvasia is the standout, representing at least 70% of production and Croatia’s favorite white wine, bar none.
As the world wakes up to Istria’s notable and fascinating wines, there is no better time to visit this stunning area that’s sometimes referred to as the “Tuscany of Croatia” – with the added allure of being nearly surrounded by the sea.
Also known as an idyllic yacht charter destination, Croatia is the perfect place to combine the romance of sailing with wine country touring. You’ll enjoy Istria wines paired with the freshest of seafood, among lush vine-covered terraces and ancient settings of staggering beauty, to leave even the most seasoned traveler in awe.
Read on to learn about our picks for the top five, must-try Istria wineries.
1. Kozlovi – An Istria Wine Region Powerhouse
While far north on the Istrian peninsula and well off the beaten path, Kozlovi? Winery is one of the most well-known and well-loved in the region. This fourth generation winemaker is also one of the oldest in Istria, and its fascinating wine tour begins in a cellar built in 1904. But the winery isn’t dated by any means, with modern architectural details that blend perfectly with ancient stone buildings and lush countryside. If you’re lucky, the charming owners, Franco and Antonella, may even make an appearance during your visit.
2. Kabola Winery – Traditional Family Winery
The Kabola Winery grounds feature classic stone buildings reminiscent of romantic Tuscany. The winegrowing Markeži? family dates back to 1891, and they clearly have a great respect for tradition. The stone buildings house a retail area, tasting room and even a small museum dedicated to winemaking production. You’ll learn about owner Marino Markeži?’s unique methods, include aging his wine in terra cotta vases buried under a lavender garden.
3. Trapan Wine Station – A Fresh Take on Istria Wines
Trapan Wine Station rarely gets left off an Istria wineries tour list, if only for a possible sighting of the young, charismatic and unorthodox winemaker, Bruno Trapan. He’s created a splash on the Croatian wine scene very quickly, having only introduced his first vintage in 2005. But his wines are not to be underestimated and include the area’s traditional Malvasia and Teran, as well as excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Enjoy tastings in a new, modern winery that Trapan designed to look like a train station, with rich dark woods and cozy fireplace.
4. Benazic Winery – Popular In-Town Wine Tasting
Epicureans will delight in a visit to the family-owned Benazic winery, conveniently located less than two miles from Pula city center. Here, you can get a taste of Istrian history through your palate with excellent local wines, brandy, cheeses, truffles, olive oil and more. Enjoy their award-winning wines in a gorgeous setting – all at a very affordable price. Come for the wines, but stay a while for lunch in this perfectly-designed relaxed atmosphere that has earned this winery top ratings from their visitors.
5. Roxanich – Natural Wines in an Idyllic Setting
If you’re ready for a full-immersion Istria wine region experience, Roxanich just might be your dream wine destination. At Wine & Heritage Hotel Roxanich in Motovun, Istria, you’ll find an impressive stone-walled boutique hotel with a bar, spa and wellness center and even saunas overlooking the vineyards. Just when you think the beautiful grounds are the best part, you learn that winemaker Mladen Rožani? uses “biodynamic” production methods with a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to farming. And his wines are known as some of the best in Istria.
To quote the Roxanich website, “Sights, scents, sounds and echoes of the past, all meet here in perfect harmony. All shall be well.”
Begin planning your own incredibly unique Istria vacation today, and get a taste of history in every bottle. Choose to start your charter in Pula, Croatia for easy access to the Istria wineries. Touring Croatia’s coast by yacht charter is easier than you think. Regardless of your sailing experience, we have a charter that’s custom-made for you. If all-inclusive luxury is calling, you’ll want to learn about a crewed yacht with captain and personal chef – perfect Croatian wine pairings included!
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