Croatian Wine History
Wine is at the heart of everyday life in Croatia and grown in almost every region of the country.Â Although many Croatian wines remain undiscovered internationally, wine production is not new in this part of the world. Croatian wine dates back 2,500 years to the ancient Greeks and possibly earlier with the Illyrians.
The plains of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar are a listed UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the oldest continuously cultivated vinicultural site in the world dating back to the 4thcentury BC.
Croatian wine is not as well known here in the UK, mostly because of their recent history. Under the communist system of Yugoslavia, many famous vineyards were nationalised and wine production centred on large cooperatives. Private ownership of the vineyards was discouraged. Quantity rather than quality became the main focus. The Croatian War of Independence in the early 1990âs saw many vineyards and wineries once again destroyed.
In recent years, the Croatian wine industry has returned to the tradition of independent producers.
Climate and location are everything when it comes to growing good grapes and Croatia has both.
Have you looked at the map of Croatia and thought it looks a bit like a horseshoe?
A small country of 56,594 sq km (21,851 sq miles) and population of 4.4 million, Croatia boasts an unusual and unique geography, characterised by a mixture of mountains, plains, forests and a long coastline.
Croatia has two very different climatic regions, Continental and Mediterranean.
The Croatian interior, which includes the cities of Zagreb and Osijek, is separated from the coast by the Dinaric Mountains.
Here, summers are warm with the average temperature in July at about 22Â°C although strong heat waves have become more frequent with temperatures reaching 40Â°C.
Winters get cold, with the average temperature in January ranging from 0Â°C to -2Â°C. However, the temperature can drop as low to -27Â°C. The Velebit and Medvednica (near Zagreb) mountain ranges of Croatia are cooler and get more rainfall. Snow is common at the higher elevations, hence skiing is a very popular sport.
The Croatian Adriatic coast stretches for 1,880 km and includes 1,244 islands which add a further 4,398km of coastline. It enjoys a Mediterranean climate, although it is usually several degrees cooler in the northern Adriatic than in the south.
In the summer, the average temperature is between 24Â°C and 26Â°C along the coast with a maximum temperature recorded at 39Â°C. In winter, the coast has a mean temperature of 2Â°C in the north and 9Â°C in the south.
Croatian islands can be very dry. For example, the island of Vis averages only 557 mm of rainfall per year while the island of BraÄ averages 952 mm. The sunniest island in Croatia is Hvar, with over 2,700 hours of sun per year. Snow is a rare occurrence anywhere along the coast.