The country has a very old wine culture, because along the Dalmatian Adriatic coast the Illyrians were already cultivating wine in 1000 BC. The Greeks founded several colonies from 600 BC. From this time comes the writing "The Feast of the Scholars", in which wine making in the colony of Issa (today's island of Vis) is reported. A wine from here was even considered the best of the ancient wines of the time. The Roman Emperor Probus (232-282) promoted viticulture in the third century AD and the Slavs who settled here in the seventh century continued to cultivate it. After settling in Dalmatia, the Croats developed viticulture as an important economic sector alongside olive growing and fishing. Around 1000 AD, the Republic of Venice conquered the regions of Dalmatia and parts of Istria and retained rule for over 300 years.
From the beginning of the 12th century, a personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary developed. In 1232, Cistercian monks founded a wine cellar in Kutjevo that still exists. In the middle of the 15th century, Hungary and Croatia suffered heavy territorial losses due to the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. After many battles against the Ottomans, a large part of Croatia came under Habsburg administration in the 18th century. As a result, there was a mutual influence on viticulture. The privileged import of Italian wines at the end of the 19th century made viticulture more difficult. After the Second World War, Croatia became a constituent republic of Yugoslavia and became independent as "Hrvatska" in 1991.
In 2012, vineyards covered 29,000 hectares of vines, from which 1.293 million hectolitres of wine were produced. The area under vines has thus halved in only 12 years since 2000. Well-known producers are Enjini Ivan, Katunar, Frano Milos, Grgich Miljenko (cellar master of Grgich Hills in Napa Valley), Milos Frano, Krauthaker Vlado, Skaramuca, Zdjelarevic, Zlatan Otok (Zlatan Plenkovic). There are two clearly separated wine-growing regions. These are divided into sub-regions and these into growing regions. Northern Continental Croatia (Kontinentalna Hrvatska) stretches from Slovenia in the west to the border of Serbia in the east. The climate here is continental. The region consists of the seven sub-regions Moslavina, Plesivica, Podunavlje (Danube), Pokuplje (Kupa), Prigorje-Bilogora, Slavonija (Slavonia) and Zagorje-Medjimurje. Two thirds of the wines produced here are white.
The Croatian Coastal Region (Primorska Hrvatska) in the south is best known for Dalmatia, where the vineyards stretch from Rijeka to Dubrovnik. The climate here is Mediterranean. The region is divided into five sub-regions, which are Dalmatinska Zagora (Dalmatian hinterland), Hrvatsko Primorje (coastal area with many islands such as Hvar, Korčula, Krk, Lastovo and Vis), Istra (Istria), Sjeverna Dalmacija (northern Dalmatia) and Srednja/Juzna Dalmacija (central and southern Dalmatia). It is mainly red wines that grow here; the best-known Croatian brand wines include Dingac, Faros, Peljesac, Postup, Prošek and Teran. The 2010 grape variety list shows that many autochthonous varieties are cultivated:
Wine categories: In August 2009, the EU wine market regulation became valid for all member countries with fundamental changes to the wine designations and quality levels. There are the following new designations or quality levels (see also in detail under Quality System):