Many wines from the island of Hvar are only available within Croatia — if you ask travelers, that’s part of their appeal.
Although the mental image of Hvar for many travelers stops at turquoise waters and intricate marble buildings, the island holds many unexpected treasures for those willing to explore beyond the leisurely seaside atmosphere. (Although we understand why some travelers prefer to do just that!)
The winding hills in the center of Hvar tell a generations-old story of agriculture. In the midst of clusters of stone structures marking communities of centuries past, piles of rock neatly stratify the sloping landscape, revealing how the island become known for its olive oil and fine wine. (Some of the best wine in the world, if you ask Anthony Bourdain.)
Yet many Croatian wines aren’t available outside the country, making a trip to Hvar (and, indeed, many other regions in Croatia, including the Istrian Peninsula and the famed Pelješac Peninsula) an unexpected treat for wine lovers. One of our favorite experiences to arrange for guests is the chance to taste authentic local wines right in the winemaker’s cellar. Starting in the narrow streets of Hvar’s city center, Babo, the family nickname of a trusted guide with deep family roots to the island (and its wine making), stops at a stone corner building with green shutters — his grandfather’s house on his mother’s side. Higher upon the hill above the city, a little closer to the ruins of an ancient fort, you’ll find his grandmother’s house from his father’s side. An energetic storyteller, Babo will take you to the heart of Hvar, showing you not only the origins of the island’s wine, but the communities of centuries past that started the industry.
Fewer than 10 residents keep some of these communities alive, but winding through the fields of inner Hvar, flush with lavender when in season, it’s not hard to see what makes mainstays want to remain where they are. At Hvar’s highest point, where Babo will stop to show you the view (see above), you can look out on the islands of Vic, Brač and Korčula from a single vantage point. An ancient fortress marks the summit, now serving as an observatory, although you won’t need a telescope to make out the stars from the hilltops.
After showing you the roots of Hvar’s wine, Babo will take you to the cellar of a respected winemaker Adding a little fresh bread, cheese, and olive oil, you’ll try a full flight of wines, from the rich Dubokovic Medvid to the mellow Laganini — meaning, “take it easy.”
We combine this and of our other favorite wine experiences throughout Croatia in the Small Group Tour In Vino Veritas, which will take you through Istria, Pelješac, Split and Zagreb (among many other areas) to experience the full range of Croatia’s wine.
We hope you’ll join us!
Explore more of our favorite journeys for food & wine lovers:
If you want to explore Croatia’s wine country, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800.908.7108 for more suggestions, activities and events!