Sheral Schowe on Wine



 

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The Event
The Vineyards of Croatia
© by Sheral Schowe
Many wine lovers feel deep ties and associations with major wine producing countries of the world. Wine is one way in which we can discover a common language and a common bond with people.

Croatia is a little country, bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the west, Bosnia to the south, Hungary to the north, and Slovenia, Italy and Austria to the northwest. The art of winemaking has existed here since the Roman invasion. They gained their independence from the Republic of Yugoslavia in June of 1991. Since the Balkan War, Croatia’s economy has suffered greatly. In some parts of the country, winemaking had become the only source of income for the people of Croatia.

There are two major wine growing regions of Croatia: the Continental region and the Coastal region. Each are divided into vine growing sub-regions. The sub-regions are divided into smaller districts, which often consist of only two or three square miles of vineyards.

In the Continental region, the most common varietals grown are Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay. Their most important red wine is the Frankova. In the Coastal region, the most common varietal is Malvasia. In the past few years, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon have been planted, with plans for additional vineyard sites designated to these popular varietals.

Based on new statistical data from the official Ministry of Agriculture, there are currently 240 square miles of vineyard sites in Croatia. 140 of these vineyards are producing wine with protected geographical origin, similar to the AOC in France. These 140 vineyards produce 300 wines, half of which are from small, private vineyards.

A total of 50 million bottles of wine have protected geographical origin. 8 percent are superior wines, 70 percent are quality wines, and 22 percent are table wines. White wines dominate the continental part of the country representing 67 percent, and 32 percent red with only 1 percent rose. In the coastal region over 70 percent of the wines are red.

There are close to two million Croats living outside Croatia who have carried their winemaking tradition to their new country of residence. You may be familiar with one of them, Grgich of California, who also owns his own vineyard in Croatia. Croatians are now making wine in almost every wine producing region of the world. Hopefully, we will soon see an increase of wines from smaller countries such as Croatia available in the Utah wine stores.

May 6, 1999

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