Aerial view of the southern vineyard slopes of Hvar island, source:Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
Hvar history of wine culture
Hvar island is the sunniest island in the Mediterranean with an average of 2,726 sunny hours a year, and the sea temperature exceeds 20°C for more than five months of the year. Only in January and February does the air temperature drop below 10°C. With a length of 68 km, the island of Hvar is the longest Croatian island.
View of Sveta Nedilja and vineyards from the sea, source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
Winemaking has been cultivated on Hvar for more than two thousand years. And even though the native Illyrians already cultivated vines on Hvar, as confirmed by scientific research, winemaking became one of the dominant economic branches of the island of Hvar with the arrival of the Greeks from the island of Paros and the founding of the city of Pharos in 384 BC.
Sunny vineyards with a sea view, source: TZ Hvar
With this, we can say that the Hvar wine story began with the foundation of the ancient Pharos, 24 centuries ago, in Starigrad field (Faroska hora), a large fertile plain in the central part of the island, which is today under the protection of UNESCO.
Stari Grad plain, source:TZ Hvar
In ancient times, the field was the granary of the island, and today it is the largest vineyard on the island.
Harvest of the Plavac mali variety, Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
Although some vineyards are next to each other and even the bottles are lying close to each other, each wine is different and has its own story, which is where the luxury and richness of this unique island are hidden.
Some of the top wineries on Hvar island
1. Zlatan Otok winery
The founder of the Zlatan Otok winery, Zlatan Plenković, a humble fisherman born in Sveta Nedjelja, filled the first bottle in 1986 when he founded a small family business, and today he is remembered as one of the first private winemakers and the initiator of modern winemaking in this area.
Enjoy a glass of Zlatan Cuvee in the shade of the Bilo Idro restaurant, source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
The Plenković family owns about 7 ha of its own vineyards on Hvar, 50 ha in the area of Baška Voda, and about 65 ha of vineyards near the town of Šibenik and buys grapes from another 50 ha of vineyards on Hvar.
Hvar vineyards are located on the unique southern slopes of the island of Hvar. They stretch in the area of Hvar's beaches, from Milna, through Sveta Nedjelja to Zavala.
Panoramic view from Zlatan Otok vineyards in Sveta Nedilja,source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
These vineyards are special because they grow on slopes of up to 40% slope, where they are very well exposed to the sun, but also to the stabilizing influence of the sea, which does not allow excessive temperature jumps.
Being open to the sea ensures a regular flow of air necessary for the health of the grapes.
Sveta Nedilja golden hour at sunset, source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
The vineyards are surrounded by untouched nature, and the vines grow in an area where there is no industry and where synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are not used. All work in the vineyard, including harvesting, is done by hand.
Magnificent views during the harvest,source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
The first Grand Cru in Croatia - Zlatan Plavac Grand Cru is a consistent international medal winner, while his Posip won the prestigious Decanter Best Regional White Wine.
The awarded Zlatan Plavac Grand Cru, source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
In the Hvar vineyard, the Plavac Mali variety predominates, followed by the white variety Pošip, Bogdanuša, Maraschino, and Yellow Muscat.
Zlatan Otok Posip is ideal with fish and shellfish dishes, white meat dishes, hard cheeses, and dried fruits, source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
One glass a day keeps the doctor away, source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
A fascinating fact about the Zlatan Otok winery is that the wine is stored under the sea, while the other part of the wine ages in a unique cellar located 70 m underground, where you can enjoy a wonderful view while tasting some of the best wines in Croatia.
Incredible view from the underground cellar, source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
As one of the best winemakers, Zlatan has received more than 100 awards, medals, and championship Croatian and international titles for his wines.
Some of the medals from the International meeting of winemakers and winegrowers Sabatina, source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
Always at the very top and among the best winemakers, in 2008 Zlatan received the title of wine knight and entered the ranks of the greats of winemaking.
One of the greatest awards for the Zlatan Otok was received at the Alliances du Monde International Wine & Barrel Competition 2015, organized in France by the Forum of French Oenologists, where the "Golden Plavac Grand Cru" of the 2010 vintage is pronounced as one of the 10 best wines in the world aged in oak barrels.
"Golden Plavac Grand Cru" earned the title of one of the 10 best wines in the world, source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
After Zlatan's sudden passing in 2016, the Zlatan Otok winery honored his life with a special, very limited edition called Zlatan Aurum. Zlatan's first name means 'gold' in Croatian, hence the Latin name for gold in the special wine, which has 23 carat-gold leaves inside.
Pošip, an autochthonous Croatian variety that Zlatan extremely appreciated and loved, source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
Regardless of whether you arrive by car or boat, don't miss visiting their marina and restaurant "Bilo idro", enjoying fresh seafood and top-quality wine with the most beautiful sunsets.
Marina and Restaurant Bilo Idro in Sveta Nedilja,source: Zlatan Otok winery Facebook
2. Hvar Hills winery
Hvar Hills Winery is the owner of one of the largest island vineyards in the Mediterranean. The winery dates back to 1991, and in the past 10 years, 150,000 vines have been planted through karst melioration, of which the autochthonous Plavac mali varieties account for the largest part - 80% and the remaining 20% for Bogdanuša.
Plavac Mali grape in Hvar Hills vineyard, source: TZ Hvar
The main part of the production consists of the wines Maior Rizerva and Pharos Maximvs, red wines that received bronze awards at the Decanter World Wine Awards in London in 2020 and in 2018.
Plavac Mali ''Pharos Maximvs'', source: TZ Hvar
In addition, a good part of the production consists of the autochthonous white variety of the island of Hvar - bogdanuša, as well as pošip and Rosé Pius.
Hvar Hills Bogdanusa, white wine best paired with lighter cheeses or grilled white fish,source: TZ Hvar
Pink wine Hvar Hills Rosé Piusis best paired with pasta carbonara, risotto, and pasta with prawns and seafood, crabs, oysters, battered fish, and salmon.
A finely balanced light wine with a delicate Provencal color, and a pleasant aroma of red fruits and citrus fruits, source: TZ Hvar
The Hvar Hills vineyards are located on the southern slope of the island of Hvar in the locality of Poljica, where due to the pronounced inclination and the stone from which the vines grow deeply, it has triple insolation: sun, stone, and sea.
Young vines on the steep slopes of the southern side of Hvar, source: TZ Hvar
From pruning to harvesting, all procedures in the vineyard are done by hand because it is not possible otherwise.
Also, the traditional way of growing without reinforcement, where the forked shape of the Plavac vine ensures sufficient ventilation and utilization of light, has been retained.
The soil is dry and poor with a rocky surface 20 cm deep, where the root of the plant is laid 80 cm from the surface, which protects it from excessive sunlight.
Hvar Hills grape harvest at sunset,source: TZ Hvar
3. Carić winery
The Carić winery is located in the beautiful town of Vrboska, called the Venice of Hvar.
The Carić family has vineyards in different locations on Hvar, from the steep vineyards near the town of Ivan Dolac, which produce the highest quality grapes from which they produce the wines Plovac Ploški and Plovac Ploški barrique, to terraced vineyards of very small areas, surrounded by dry walls.
Vineyards with the best conditions for growing grapes, source: TZ Hvar
Vineyards in the field require less human work because the application of mechanization is possible, but they are somewhat more demanding in terms of protecting the vines from diseases due to a wetter microclimate.
All work in the vineyards is done by hand, source:Vina Carić website
Carić vineyards in Starigrad field date back centuries to Greek and Roman days. The parcelization has been preserved thanks to the centuries-long effort of Hvar farmers, who preserved and restored the Greek dry-stone walls. The original plots measuring 900 x 180 m, within which smaller ones were created over the centuries, are clearly visible from the air.
Remains of dry stone walls on Hvar, source: TZ Hvar
The Carić family grows mostly white grape varieties such as bogdanjuša, kuča, maraština, and pošip, from which wines Bogdanjuša, Cesarica, and Stolno white Carić are made.
Carić winery Bogdanjuša white wine, source: Vina Carić website
They are the only winemakers who have made an excellent Danica sparkling wine from the bogdanjuša variety.
The beautiful labels of the Carić winery were painted by the famous painter Edo Murtić, who presented the real Hvar wine story with symbolic motifs.
Beautiful labels of Carić wines are pained by famous Edo Murtić,source: Vina Carić website
One interesting thing is that the top red wine of the Carić winery "Plovac Ploški" is offered in the best restaurant in the Netherlands.
The restaurant De Librije with three Michelin stars even designed a special menu that best matches this superb red wine!
Plovac Ploški is on the wine list of a Michelin restaurant in the Netherlands, source: Vina Carić website
At The Balkans International Wine Competition 2019 IN SOFIA, Vinarija Carić won 4 awards: Bogdanjuša 2018 - Best of show trophy on behalf of Croatia, Plovac Ploški barrique 2012 - Silver medal, Cesarica 2018 - Bronze medal, Pošip 2018 - Bronze medal.
Award-winning premium red wine Plovac Ploški barrique,source: Vina Carić website
We hope that with this blog we have ignited in you the desire to visit the island of Hvar and explore the ancient wine trails that date back centuries. Visit Hvar and create unforgettable memories for a lifetime!