When you moor in harbors on the island of Brač, Hvar, and Vis, take some time to get to know their winemakers and taste some top quality wines. Here, we would like to mention some of the most famous ones.
If you are sailing around the island of middle Dalmatia, you are also sailing in an area which was the cradle of winegrowing and winemaking on the Adriatic. This is immediately clear as you sail along the south shores oh Hvar and Brač, and notice the vineyards which are spread from the sea to the rocky summits, taking up almost all workable soil. Since ancient times grapes ripened here on sandy soil, bathed in sunshine. These grapes are used to produce some of the best Mediterranean wines. Even the old Illyrians knew how to grow grapevines, ferment fruit and produce wine, long before the Greek colonization. The arrival of Phoenicians and especially Ancient Greeks to the Adriatic Sea raised the winegrowing and winemaking technology to a new level.
This winemaking tradition has been preserved until today, and winemakers of Hvar, Brač, and Vis are considered to be true masters of this ancient art. This area is the origin of many autochthonous grape varieties: plavac mali crni, maraština, vugava, bogdanuša, prč, and many others.
Keep that in mind when you sail these waters, and when you moor in some picturesque bay or an island waterfront, be sure to visit some of the islands´famous winemakers, take a peek in their wine cellars and try their wines. If you like them, replenish your ship´s supplies with a bottle of top-quality wine, which will keep your heart warm long after you have left these parts.
WINEMAKERS OF BRAČ
Although many consider Brač to be an island of olive growers, winegrowing and winemaking have a centuries-old tradition on this island. Grapevines were grown and wine produced on the island way back in the times of the Roman Empire, and legend has it that the first grapevine plants were brought to the island by the refugees from Troy. For centuries, peasants from Bol used to grow grapevines on the southern slopes of the island of Brač, at the foot of Vidova Gora. It turned out that plavac mali was the only grape variety that was able to grow and bear fruit in these conditions, with little humidity, and plenty of warmth and sunshine. The need to produce and sell wine encouraged the residents of Bol to form the First Dalmatian Winemakers Cooperative in 1900.
The construction of the wine cellar, which was at that time an example of top-notch winemaking technology, was finished three years later. Their wine was sold to buyers throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Europe, and the Cooperative managed to survive despite all the crises which rattled winegrowing and winemaking and is still, along with tourism, on of the pillars of life in Bol. Vineyards were mostly planted on the south shore of the island and on the inland slopes, but sometimes also on the north shore, for example, near Postira.
Jako Vino, Bol
The wine cellars owned by the Agricultural Cooperative of Bol were acquired by Jako Andabak a few years ago. Although they are part of a large company, the wine cellars and production lines are organized separately, overseen by leading oenologists. The wine cellars have been completely renovated and furnished with modern equipment. The winery, located on the Bol waterfront, includes a nicely decorated wine shop where you can taste the wines produced by this manufacturer.
Pošip Stina is a wine of rich and complex taste, with a pronounced freshness. Its color is intensely yellow with green reflections. Vugava Stina is also greenish-yellow in color. It is a rich wine with an excellent balance between freshness and strength. Plavac mali wine is produced in two different versions: Majstor Stina and Barrique Stina. Majstor Stina is a wine of great potential, expected to improve further. Barrique Stina has the structure of classic plavac wines and is, at the same time, very drinkable. Opol Stina is a wine of full and strong flavor, deliciously refreshing character, and steady warmth.
The wine cellars and wine shop owned by Jako Vino are located in the center of Bol, so you can easily reach them wherever you moor or anchor in Bol.
Baković Wines, Murvica
The family of Hrvoje Baković planted their vineyards around 25 years ago and had their first harvest in 1996. Their vineyards are in Murvica, the most famous winegrowing location of Brač, where the grapes archive a high level of quality, thanks to the stony soil, poor in nutrients, and a large amount of sun exposure. He produces wines that are expensive and aromatic, with a distinct southern note. Previously, he only grew grapes of the plavac mali variety but plans to plant new vineyards next year, which will also include cabernet sauvignon and syrah grape varieties.
Baković produces Plavac Murvica, a top-quality wine made by classic vinification methods and aged in barrique barrels. The release of the wine onto the market is not hurried. This is an excellent wine of a full, refined, and luxurious flavor. Its color is dark ruby red, and its bouquet is rich, with a pronounced, specific aroma. As with other plavac mali wines, it is usually recommended with all roasted and spicy dishes, as well as spicy and fatty fish.
The Baković wine cellar is located in Murvica, around five kilometers from Bol, so you can reach it either on foot or rent a bicycle or scooter.
Senjković Wines, Nerežišća
The enthusiasm of Tonči Senjković, his sons Lari and Saša, and their families helped transform a small grandfather’s vineyard in the vicinity of Nerežišće into a big vineyard spread over an area of 8 hectares. The combination of modern knowledge and tradition results in the production of top quality wines: Bosso and Bročko rič (plavac mali wines) and Spoža (rosé of plavac Mali wine). Bročko rič is a wine made from plavac mali grapes, adorned by the harmony between a strong and elegant wine, with good tannins and a pleasant aftertaste. The nose is characterized by aromas of vanilla, caramel, and spices, followed by the aromas of plum and cherry.
The palate is fruity. Bosso is a plavac mali wine of almost opaque dark red/purple color with blue reflections. It is an elegant and drinkable plavac wine, with well-developed tannins and pleasant acids. It is characterized by ripe and sweet aromas of plum jam supplemented by vanilla and smoke. Spoža has the reputation of one of the best Croatian rosé wines and is produced by bleeding off the juice of plavac mali grapes (used to make Bosso wine).
The Senjković family wine cellar in Nerežišće is a bit harder to reach for sailors. It is six kilometers away from the nearest ports, Supetar and Splitska, and even a bit further from Milna and Bobovišće, so you will need to organize transportation.
WINEMAKERS OF HVAR
When the Ancient Greeks from the island of Paros founded Faros in 385/4 BC, they divided the great field into smaller parcels. The borders of the parcels are still visible today, making the Stari Grad Plain, or Hora, the best-preserved Greek Hora in the Mediterranean. This is where the Ancient Greeks grew their vines and produced wine, the same as the Romans and Croats after them. Nowadays, the vineyards on Hvar are divided across three different regions: the southern slopes of the island, the northern side of the island, including the former Hora, and the Hvar Plain.
The most impressive areas are the very steep slopes in the southern part of the island, where plavac mali grapes, used to produce top-quality Hvar plavac wine, grow on breccia soils, on slopes with optimal inclination and eternal exposure to the Sun. In this area, the vineyards are spread from the sea to around 500 m above sea level.
I would also like to mention drnekuša, a red grape variety that the islanders most often used to produce the dessert wine prošek. Lately, the cabernet sauvignon grape variety is also successfully grown on the island, especially on Pakleni Island. Of white grape varieties, the autochthonous varieties bogdanuša and prč must be mentioned here, as well as pošip, which has lately been planted on larger areas.
Along with wineries in Stari Grad, Jelsa, and the Agricultural Cooperative Svirče, private winemakers also built their own wine cellars and bottling lines on the island, which gave winegrowing and winemaking a great stimulus.
Tomić Wines, Bastijana, Jelsa
Andro Tomić has a magnetic attraction for all of those who want to hear a nice (and scientific) talk about the history of wine and the remarkable wines of Hvar, as well as to taste some top quality products. He produces top-quality wine using grapes of the plavac mali variety (Ivan Dolac, Sv. Nedilja, and Jagodna). The wine is distinguished by the natural intensity of the varietal aroma of the dark and ripe fruit, rounded up by aging the wine for 8 to 12 months in barrique barrels.
The final special quality of Plavac mali lies in its ˝French˝ type of elegance, and the classic aromas of plavac mali grape varieties. Opolo Nobile is a dry rosé wine made from plavac mali grapes.
The top quality Caplar wine is a coupage of plavac mali and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties. After blending, the wine is aged for six months in barrique barrels. The result is a wine of softer tannins. In which the intensity and varietal aromas of the Plavac are refined by the elegance and freshness of the Cabernet. Andro Tomić also produced wine from grapes grown on Pakleni islands: Sv. Klement Bijeli, a dry white wine made from pošip grapes, and Sv. Klement Bijeli, a dry red wine made from an autochthonous grape variety of the island of Hvar, and Beleca, made from pošip and bogdanuša grapes.
Prošek Hektorović is a sweet dessert wine produced the traditional way, using grapes of bogdanuša, maraština, prč, and muškat varieties. The resulting wine is irresistibly sweet, with the ripe aromas of raisins, dried fruit, and jam. The Tomić Winery, with its remarkable wine cellar, decorated in the traditional Ancient Roman fashion, is located in the eastern part of Jelsa, near Mina Cove. Excellent wine tasting is organized in the wine cellar.
If you are moored on the waterfront in Jelsa, it is a twenty-minute walk to Tomić wine cellar. If you just want to buy or taste their wines, you can do so in their ˝Wine studio˝located in the old part of Jelsa.
Duboković Wines, Jelsa
Ivo Duboković is another winemaker from Jelsa, who managed to become quite famous in the last few years, mostly owing to his own ambition and the desire to produce top quality wines, which would manage to achieve an appropriate (high) price on the market. He managed to do just that, thanks first and foremost to two excellent wines, Medvid and Medvjedica, which mere named after vineyards on the Medvid Bad winegrowing location, and which helped him reach winemaking heights. It is a wine which ages in barriques, has a rich and powerful flavor (Medvid), and a luxurious, spicy, and fruity character (Medvjedica).
Apart from these, Duboković also produces other wines, such as Don Petar, Prvi Poljubac, Prije 6009 Godina, 2718 Sati Sunca U Boci (made using grapes grown in vineyards on the northern side of Hvar), Moja B and Moj Otok. Some of them are available at a much more acceptable price.
The Duboković Winery is located in Jelsa. It includes a wine shop with a tasting room and just the right place for those who want to learn more about wine.
Zlatan Otok, Sv. Nedjelja
The agricultural estate owned by the family of Zlatan Plenković has received many awards in the last few years, among others the regional trophy Decantera awarded to their 2010 Zlatan Pošip wine. Their vineyards are on the winegrowing locations on the southern slopes of Hvar and in the vicinity of Makarska, and the winery is located in Sv. Nedjelja. Their assortment includes the following grape varieties: plavac mali, crljenak, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, pošip, žilavka, dubrovačka malvasia, and yellow muscat. Their most famous wines are Zlatan Plavac and Zlatan Plavac Barique.
These are wines made from plavac mali grape variety, aged in big wooden and inox barrels for a year, or a barrique barrels, and then another 4 to 6 months in bottles. Both wines are a dark ruby red color, with a rich and pleasant structure, and a lengthy aftertaste. Zlatan Plavac Barrique has a rich and complex nose with a light animal note and aromas of dried plums, cherry, and chocolate.
Zlatan Plavac Grand Cru is made from carefully selected grapes grown in the oldest vineyards, located on premium sites on the southern slopes of Hvar Island. The wine ages in new barrique barrels, followed by another half a year of aging in bottles. It has a rich and strong tannin structure, with a fiery, persistent aftertaste. Zlatan Pošip is a wine made of grapes grown in the vineyards Bast – Baška Voda, on the winegrowing locations near Makarska.
This wine is a bright golden – yellow color of hay, with a thick and heavy body, with a heavy film that coats the glass. It has a rich and peculiar flavor with a characteristic aroma of dried apricots and figs. Plenković also produced Zlatan Plavac Makarska, Zlatan Crljenak, Zlatan Ostatak Bure, Opol Rose, Zavalu, Zlatan Porat, Zlatan Porat Reserva, and Zlatan Prošek wines.
Sailors will easily reach the Plenković Winery. They built a real little marina in Sv. Nedjelja, where boats with a length of up to 20m and draught of up to 4m can moor.
The marina also includes an excellent restaurant run by the family and a remarkable wine cellar located underwater.
Luviji Wines, Hvar
The Bracanović-Luviji family grows grapes of the pošip grape variety in vineyards located in the vicinity of Hvar, in a fertile south-facing called the Hvar Plains, and they also produce top quality dry white wine Pošip-Luviji. Vjekoslav Bracanović-Luviji used his knowledge and experience in grafting to save the autochthonous Hvar grape variety (ecotype) pošip from extinction. This grape variety has adapted to climate and pedological conditions of this area through centuries, which is why its greenish-yellow drops embody the essence of the climate, soil, and family efforts. The wine has a strong flavor, balanced acids, greenish-yellow color, and a recognizable bouquet.
This wine has that special warmth, acquired by aging in the traditional wine cellar owned by the Bracanović-Luviji family. In the Velo Polje area on the island of Sv. Klement, the Bracanović-Luviji family, grows red grape varieties Cabernet and merlot used to produce the dry red wine Pakleno vino-Luviji.
The vineyards are located directly next to the sea in the vicinity of the remains of a Roman villa Rustica. The wine has a deep black color and a strong flavor, it is aged in oak barrels for 12 months, and its names becomes it perfectly (˝Pakleno vino˝means ˝Hell wine˝).
Any sailor who moors or anchors in Hvar or the nearby Palmižana marina will easily find Luviji wines. They are offered in the family-owned tavern in the vicinity of Hvar Cathedral, while the family’s wine cellar is only a bit further away.
Carić Wines, Svirče
Their assortment includes top-quality red wines Plovac Ploški and Plovac Ploški Barrique, produced from the plavac mali grape variety grown in the Plaže (Beaches) area of Hvar. Maceration is conducted in inox vinification and is stopped after five days. The wine is fermented with natural yeast, without the presence of grape skins or seeds. Plavac Ploški Barrique in barrique barrels. Both versions of Plovac wine are aged for at least two years before they are released onto the market. Also on offer is a quality young wine Plavac Ploški, made from grapes grown in a young vineyard in Zavala, on the southern side of the island of Hvar.
Maceration and fermentation occur in closed containers, and the wine is fermented with inoculated yeast. It is put on sale on St. Catherine’s Day the 24 November, on the day that caroling (kolendanje) starts on the island of Hvar.
It is a favorite wine during Advent, Christmas, and New Year season. Quality white wines are represented by Bogdanjuša and Cesarica. Bogdanjuša is a varietal wine made from the autochthonous grape variety of the same name, while Cesarica is a combination of maraština and kuč grapes. The wines ferment and age in inox tanks to preserve their freshness and aroma. The assortment is rounded off by table wines: rosé wine Rosé Marino, red wine Jubo`v, and red and white wines Carić.
The Carić Winery is located in Svirče, in the inland part of the island, at a distance of around 5 km from Jelsa and Vrboska, and a bit further from Stari Grad.
Since you can moor safely in these places, you can leave your boat there and take a walk to Svirče. The Carić Winery also owns a wine shop in Hvar.
Agricultural Cooperative Svirče, Svirče, island of Hvar
The Agricultural Cooperative Svirče is known for its top quality, ecologically produced wines, and a uniquely late harvest. The Cooperative produces top-quality dry red wine Ivan Dolac with a ˝Controlled origin denomination˝label, made from plavac mali grapes. It has a dark ruby red color, and is light, with a tart flavor, luxurious bouquet and varietal aroma. It carries the ˝eco product˝label. Ivan Dolac Barrique, another bearer of the ˝eco product˝label, as well as the semi-sweet Ivan Dolac Selection wine, made using selected dried berries and aged in barrique barrels, are also produced from plavac mali grapes.
Standout red wines produced by the Agricultural Cooperative Svirče include Maditeraneo plavac, Plavac Hvar, Plavac barrique, Plavac, and Opolo, all made from plavac mali grapes grown on various localities.
The assortment is rounded off by white wines Pošip, Bogdanuša (Controlled origin denomination), made from the grape variety of the same name, and Svirče, a blend of bogdanuša, trebljan, parč, toscano and other grape varieties. The Agricultural Cooperative Svirče also produces for, a dessert wine of sweet flavor and rich aroma, made from the autochthonous bogdanuša grape variety. The winery is located in Svirče.
WINEMAKERS OF VIS
The entire history of Vis is connected to wine since the island’s climate is favorable to winegrowing. Ever since Ancient Roman and Greek times, grapevines were planted on the smaller and larger fields and terraces that the peasants built on tony slopes, and the cellars were filled with excellent wine.
This practice continued in the periods when the island’s estates were owned by aristocratic families from Hvar, through the times of associations and cooperatives from the beginning of the last century, and up to now. Winegrowing and winemaking has been through some heavy crises.
They were destroyed by powdery mildew and phylloxera, as well as socialist collectivism, but they managed to survive and are nowadays enjoying their renaissance. It is led by private winegrowers, some of whom are far-famed.
The two most famous wines from Vis are Vugava and Plavac. Vugava is produced from a grape variety of the same name, grown exclusively on the winegrowing locations of Vis – Podšpilje, Podhumlje, Dračevo polje, and Komiža. Today it is a famous dry wine of a wonderful, natural golden yellow color, with a specific, discreet varietal bouquet.
Plavac and plavac mali are grown on the sandy valley bottoms of Vis and Biševo.
The grapes yield thick wine of rich color and full flavor and bouquet. There are still some vineyards where the old autochthonous Vis varieties such as karstičevica, beretinjonka, palagružonka, palaruša, etc. are grown.
Senjanović Wines, Tihobraće, Milna
The vineyard and wine cellar owned by the Senjanović family is located in Tihobraće Polje, a location where grapevines were grown for centuries. The name of the field comes from the name that the locals used to call friars of the Order of Cistercians, which stems from their wow of silence. The friars used this field to grow grapevines and produce wine. The deep sandy soil profile and the south-facing field create an ideal terroir to grow high-quality plavac grapes.
The Senjanović family produces top-quality red and rosé wines made from grapes of the plavac mali variety grown in their own vineyard. Plavac mali Tihe Braće is a top-quality dry wine with a ˝Controlled origin denomination˝ label. It has an intense color and a multi-layered aroma, and it is well balanced, with the potential to age longer.
Rosé wine is produced from the same grape variety, but as a one-year-old fresh wine with a pronounced fruity aroma. It is slightly darker red in color and more similar to standard Dalmatians Opolos. Cooled down, it tastes excellent when paired with dessert.
If you want to visit the Senjanović family wine cellar, you should moor in Stiniva Cove and take a walk to Tihobraće Polje, barely two kilometers away. You can also start from Vis, but in that case, you will require transportation, since the distance from the waterfront in Kut to Tihobraće Polje is around six kilometers.
Vitis Wines, Lipanović
Like many of their fellow islanders, father and son Petar and Antonijo Lipanović inherited both their vineyard and their winemaking profession. Until 1993, when they started with professional wine production, they only produced wine for their own consumption.
They managed to get a lease of the former military power plant, where they built an ideal wine cellar. The wine cellar is dug into the ground, and with a constant temperature of 18 C, irrespective of the season has the ideal conditions for wine maturation.
Depending on the year, they produce between 20,000 and 40,000 of wine from plavac mali and vugava grapes. Under the Lipanović label, they place on the market plavac and vugava wines, classified as ˝top quality˝and ˝barrique˝. Depending on the harvest, vugava is sometimes bottled with the label of ˝late harvest˝. Additionally, Rose, Mezot, and Sv. Juraj wines, as well as 12 different kinds of natural fruit brandies, are produced in their wine cellar. The Lipanović family owned a wine shop in the center of Vis. Vugava is characterized by natural golden-yellow color, and its aroma is specific, varietal, nonintrusive, and full.
If you anchor or moor in Vis Harbour, take a walk from the Luka area towards Komiža, and you will happen upon the Lipanović Winery on your right. It is well worth seeing and experiencing.
Roki’s Wines, Plisko Polje
In 1973 Nikša Roki returned from Australia to his home island, where he bought some land. He was one of the first private winegrowers who started to bottle his own wine, back in the mid-70s. Today he owns 4 hectares of vineyards. He bottles significant amounts of wine made from vugava, plavac mali, kurtelaška, and kuč grapes under around ten different labels. Along with vugava, his most famous top-quality wine is the white Muškardin wine, made from kuč grapes.
He is famous for producing young plavac wines and is the only winemaker on the island that produces champagne. He owns a wine cellar with a tasting room and a small restaurant on his estate in Plisko Polje and also has wine shops in Vis and Komiža. If you want to reach Roki’s estate, you will need transportation, which can easily be found in Vis. It is almost 9 km away from the waterfront in Kut. If you rent bicycles, you can have a nice excursion, complete with a meal and wine tasting.
Just be careful not to overdo it since you also have to get back to town.
Agricultural Cooperative Podšpilje, Podšpilje
The agricultural Cooperative, led by the agronomist and well-known oenologist Srećko Roki, has become one of the most important wine producers on the island. Each year a few private winegrowers recognize it as a reliable partner and become new members of the Cooperative. The wine cellar is mostly used to age wines produced from plavac mali and vugava grape varieties, as well as small quantities of kuč wines. Vugava and plavac are labeled as ˝quality˝wines. Grapes from 60 hectares of vineyards from all wine-growing locations on the island are delivered to the Cooperative’s wine cellar.
Except for being in charge of aging and bottling wine, the cooperative is also the main distributor of vine seedlings on the island. The Cooperative’s wine cellar includes a wine shop. Vugava Podšpilje is a wine of dark yellow color, with a thick mouthfeel and a basic note of sage. Plavac Podšpilje is a wine of dark red color, simple, full-bodied, and flavored, with peasant aromas and a lasting aftertaste.
The distance to the agricultural Cooperative in Podšpilje is almost the same whether you start from the waterfront in Vis or the one in Komiža. You will either need transportation or should be really fit.