Central Dalmatian Islands, Each with Their Own Grape Varieties

 (Source Hvar Otok Vina)

Authentic experiences are at the very heart of the best travel experiences, and nowhere is that more true than in Central Dalmatia. 

Wine loves are often surprised about the quality of Dalmatian wine on their first visit, as they struggle to pronounce some unknown grape varieties. Not all the wines are unfamiliar to international palates, however – did you know that the original Zinfandel comes from vineyards in Kastela, just outside Split?

But it is the sheer variety of indigenous varieties that makes Croatian wine so exciting. It is said that there are 130 indigenous varieties in Croatia, and Central Dalmatia – and its islands – play an important part in this story.

Can you imagine that three of the islands – Hvar, Solta and Vis – each have grape varieties specific to their own individual island? How authentic is that for a wine tasting experience. 

The island of Solta has its links to the original Zinfandel as well. Dalmatia’s most famous red, Plavac Mali, is the most famous relative of Crljenak Kastelanski, as the original Zinfandel was known. But Soltans also raise a glass to another relative, which only grows on Solta – Dobricic. 

Sail a little further south to the island of Vis, and swap your red wine tasting for white. For here, on the island which gave birth to cricket in mainland Europe over 200 years ago, a white grape called Vugava is the popular local refreshment. 

But king of the indigenous varieties is undoubtedly Hvar. It most famous variety, a white called Bogdanusa, translates literally as ‘a gift from God’, but there are several others. Among them is a read called Darnekusa, which typically grows only above 400m sea level (leaving few planting options on an island whose peak is 621m) and a white called Prc. Other, almost extinct varieties such as Palaruza and Mekuja, can still be found among a handful of island winemakers. 

Each Central Dalmatian island has its own identity and flavours – and its wines are no exception. 

To learn more about the winemakers of Central Dalmatia, click here