The Dalmation Coast: Or, where those spotted dogs hail from

I have wanted to go to Croatia for quite a while. We skipped over the more popular ports of Dubrovnik and Split on this itinerary, instead heading to Korcula and Rovinj.

In Korcula, we took a tour offered by the ship to three wineries. We started taking a boat across to the mainland, the getting in a bus and driving along the beautiful Croatian highway. “Highway” may be a bit of an overstatement. It is a two lane road that is so narrow when buses pass each other everyone on the bus holds their collective breath. Our bus driver was excellent, and our tour guide, Ivana, was wonderful. She shared her thoughts on Croatia and the war in the early 1990s – definitely interesting to get a local perspective.

We went to our first winery – Vina Vukas, a small family owned operation, where we tasted through many flavors of liquors, as well as both white and red wines. The reds are made from Plavic Maki, a clone of zinfandel. Nothing says “Good morning, glad you survived the road” like a shot of fruit flavored liquor. The wine, however, was surprisingly good. I have had wines from Bulgaria (some awful, some better) and wines from Georgia (the place with the Cyrillic alphabet, not the Atlanta airport) which were truly horrible. Yes, that means I have had multiple Georgian wines, and did not enjoy any of them. The Croatian wines were surprisingly tasty.

During the war, we were told, all wines were made and sold in the local cooperative and government controlled. Now, these families are free to grow, produce and sell their own product.

We stopped at Matusko wines next, which was a much larger operation. We toured their wine cellar, complete with tasting room and tasted through some of their wines as well. I even bought a couple of bottles there.

Next up was Vinarija Bartulovic, another family owned winery, where we were also stopping for a “light lunch”. I’m not exactly sure how breads, cheese, olives and sardines, followed by grilled meats and ratatouille, followed by cake is considered “light”, but nonetheless, it was very nice, and our host for the tour, Bartol (presumably, junior) was gracious and entertaining.

I’m a wine geek, so any opportunity to explore new wineries and regions is welcome, especially when the wine is good. Next stop: Rovinj.