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 Issa (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 3rd century and the Slavs who settled here in the 7th century continued to cultivate it. The Croats developed viticulture in Dalmatia as an important economic sector alongside olive growing and fishing. Around 1000 AD, the Republic of Venice conquered Dalmatia and parts of Istria and retained its 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, much of Croatia came under Habsburg administration in the 18th century. After the Second World War Croatia became a constituent republic of Yugoslavia and in 1991 became independent as "Hrvatska".
The country is characterised by a very varied topography. The large plain in the interior (part of the Pannonian Plain) is separated by the Dinaric Alps (Dinarides) from the almost 1,800 kilometre long Adriatic coast. There are over 1,200 islands along the coast, which is why Croatia is also called the "land of 1,000 islands". The coastal strip consists of Dalmatia in the south and the large peninsula of Istria in the north. The vineyards here slope steeply down to the sea, so there is optimal sunlight (exposure) for the vineyards. There are two clearly separated wine-growing regions. These are divided into a number of sub-regions and these into growing areas.
Continental Croatia (Kontinentalna Hrvatska)
Located in the north, this region stretches from Slovenia in the west to the border of Serbia in the east. In the south it borders Bosnia-Herzegovina. It has a continental climate with cool summers and sometimes very harsh winters. 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.
Croatian Coastal Region (Primorska Hrvatska)
The southern region is best known for Dalmatia, where vineyards stretch from Rijeka to Dubrovnik. In the very south, there is a border with Montenegro that is only 25 kilometres long. Here the climate is much more humid and 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, and the best-known Croatian brand wines include Dingac, Faros, Peljesac, Postup, Prošek and Teran.
Grape variety list
In 2020, the area under vines covered 21,454 hectares and the wine production volume 800,000 hectolitres (Statistics Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Agriculture). There are very many autochthonous grape varieties, which are often cultivated on only one or a few islands in very small quantities. The grape variety index in 2010 (Statistics Kym Anderson):
In August 2009, the EU wine market regulation came into force with fundamental changes to the wine designations and quality levels. There are the following new designations or quality levels (see Quality System):