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14 May 2016, 11:49 AM

You don’t have to be a travel expert to know that Dubrovnik is one of the best travel destinations in Europe, and this beautiful holiday hotspot has put Croatia firmly on the tourist map. Despite that, it would be wrong to just label Dubrovnik and the surrounding region as simply a summer holiday destination, because there is so much more to this part of the country than meets the eye.

14 May 2016, 11:48 AM

Located in central Croatia and only an hours drive from Zagreb is Bjelovar-Bilogora County. This county is full of natural beauty and encompasses the Papuk Mountain Nature Park, hot springs which have been in use for thousands of years, charming towns, and a rich cultural heritage.

13 May 2016, 10:53 AM

Šibenik-Knin County located in the north-central part of Dalmatia and has a staggering 242 islands, two national parks, and the UNESCO-listed Cathedral of St James which is located in its largest city, Šibenik.

12 May 2016, 19:09 PM

Croatia's largest peninsula, Istria is a place where food, olive oil and wine are just as important to the locals as the air they breathe. This is Croatia's foodie capital, and was declared the best olive oil region in the world by Flos Olei in 2016, is the land of the elusive white truffle, and home of many of Croatia's leading winemakers. Istrians holy trinity, food, wine and oil lies at the heart of everyday life.

12 May 2016, 10:52 AM

The beautiful Primorje-Gorski Kotar County is located in western Croatia and encompasses the Kvarner Bay and the islands of Krk, Cres, Rab and Lošinj, the coastal area down to Senj as well as the mountainous region of Gorski Kotar.

06 May 2016, 11:52 AM

Just below the Drava River, bordering Slovenia, lies Varaždin County. One of the most developed counties in Croatia, it’s a perfect location to explore by bikes.

06 May 2016, 11:52 AM

One of Croatia's most exciting and fastest growing tourist destinations, Central Dalmatia has a wine story to match, a tale of indigenous grapes, centuries of history, and the birthplace of one of the most grape varieties of all. Add to the mix the rise of a sophisticated wine bar culture in recent years, and increasingly innovative tours, including island hopping with bike and wine, and sail and wine, and there really is a comprehensive programme for the wine lover. So exciting is the wine scene here that a Master of Wine decided to up roots from London to make her own wine on Hvar - from Hvar indigenous grapes of course. 

Where to begin? Perhaps on the islands, for there is much wine heritage to explore and a wealth of indigenous grape varieties to try. When the Ancient Greeks sailed into modern-day Stari Grad on Hvar exactly 2400 years ago, they brought with them olive trees and grape vines from their native island of Paros.  Those grapes continue to grow today, and Hvar has seen grape cultivation through Greek, Roman, Venetian, Communist and democratic times. There is a fascinating wine story where that rich heritage is reflected through the modern-day growers. 

The steep southern slopes of Hvar's south side produce some of the finest Plavac Mali in the world, including one of Croatia's most famous bottles, the Zlatan Otok Grand Cru. Zlatan is just one of a number of Hvar winemakers who have unified under the umbrella of the Hvar Wine Association, and other key players include Andro Tomic, Ivo Dubokovic, PZ Svirce and Ivo Caric. Tasting facilities are increasingly available, and the Hvar wine tour scene is very developed - Tomic, Zlatan, Caric and Dubokovic are the key players. Don't miss some of the grape varieties only grown on Hvar - bogdanusa, mekuja, kuc and prc (white), darnekusa (red), the variety chosen by Jo Ahearne Master of Wine as she produced her first island rose in 2016. 

Brac is another important wine destination as well, and although there are only three official winemakers, two of them are not to be missed. The Dalmatian wine revolution is perhaps best exemplified by the Stina winery in Bol, housed in the waterfront's most impressive building, the 1903 first wine cooperative in Dalmatia. Don't let the age deceive you - inside is the most modern equipment and outstanding tasting room, where one can try internationally award-winning wines, including my favourite, the white Posip. Further inland is Senjkovic, a lovely couple who are stamping their mark on the Croatian wine scene. From professional footballer to the first island sparkling wine, the Senjkovic experience is all about island tradition and youthful enthusiasm and innovation. Not to be missed. Solta and Vis also have their wine stories, but perhaps not so much in the spotlight as their more fashionable island neighbours, but both have their indigenous varieties - the white vugava on Vis, and Dobricic on Solta, a parent of Plavac Mali and Zinfandel. 

Zinfandel? Yes, you heard it right, for here is Central Dalmatia's greatest wine asset, something which was proved by researchers at the University of Davis in 2001, when it was proved that an indigenous Dalmatian variety called Crljenak Kastelanski, from the Kastela region between Split and its airport, had 100% matching DNA with the powerful American red. And so the world came to know that the Original Zinfandel comes from Central Dalmatia. Serious planting of Crljenak has ensued, and Kastela's winemakers are getting organised with a nascent wine tourism offer, one which will only improve. 

Spare a thought too for the Imotski region, which is slowly coming in from the cold, both due to improved infrastructure (the motorway and tunnel to the coast at Makarska) and the innovative winemaking efforts of winemakers such as Grabovac. The tongue-twisting white kujundzuja is king here, and indeed the Imota winery used to be the second biggest in former Yugoslavia with 20 million litres a year, but the planting of other native and international varieties has yielded excellent results. 

As the winemakers of the region make progress, so too does the general wine scene. The first wine bar opened a decade ago in Hvar Town (3Prsuta), but the real revolution has been happening in Split after the opening of the excellent Paradox Wine and Cheese Bar. Others followed, and now Split has a very vibrant wine bar scene, an excellent opportunity to get to know Croatian wine better. And so too with wine tourism, and now a growing number of agencies are offering wine tours of varying quality - two of the best are www.secretdalmatia.com and www.hvarwinetours.com

Central Dalmatia is an outstanding region to visit - don't forget to sample a glass or two along the way. 

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02 Mar 2016, 09:14 AM

With 130 indigenous grape varieties. Croatian wine is a voyage of dicovery. TCN's Damien Cullen Druzak takes us into one of its lesser-known regions on March 2, 2016. 

22 Dec 2015, 08:28 AM

A visit to a small winemaker in the backstreets of Dalmatian town on December 21, 2015 reveals a passionate project to celebrate Hvar's considerable indigenous grape heritage.

28 Nov 2014, 00:00 AM

One thing I have learned in Dalmatia is not to be surprised by anything.

Coming out of the hotel with some 30 international wine journalists near Imotksi a couple of years ago, many of my international colleagues looked on with incredulity, as the neighbour was making short work of a freshly slaughtered pig, but the sight of the day for me was something altogether more incredible, as spectacular for its workmanship as it was for its unexpectedness. 

"Do you think this place is abandoned," asked the Danish journalist, as we pulled up outside the vast Imota winery, once the second largest in all former Yugoslavia, churning out some 20 million litres a year. Looking at the numerous smashed window panes and general sense of decay, I could understanding his question. As for me, I was back in the Soviet Union in my mind - I have visted a million such places.

But then... 


Along a nondescript corridor and with vast production facilities seemingly unused through the internal windows below, we came across the presentation room, where a range of 21 wines from the Imotski Wine Association were to be presented. But as impressive as the wines were, I could not keep my eyes of the walls, for three of them were covered in the most fabulously detailed small tiles I think I had ever seen. Together they represented an overview of Imostki - the town, the nature, the tradion. A simply fascinating piece of work. 

As our host, Zoran Pejovic from Paradox Hospitality in Split explained, the tiles all have their original natural colour, and the huge mosaic - which consists of 450,000 pieces - includes tiles from all five continents and took some four years to put together. It is the work of Slobodana Matić, who was born in Proložac in 1947, studied in Belgrade at the academy of fine arts, and whose late husband was one of the most important writers of Ex-YU of the second part of the 20th century, Mirko Kovač.

Together with her students, the mosaic took four years to contstruct, from 1976-1980.

Even more incredibly, when I went to search for information about it on the web (ostensibly to get better photos), I found that there was almost no mention of it all, apart from this article (with much better pics), which went live two days ago (and so was probably inspired by the press trip).  Quite incredible.

 
 
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