If you’re a wine enthusiast planning to travel to Croatia soon, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit some of the best wineries in Istria during your trip.
Often called the Tuscany of Croatia, Istria is a region known not only for its charm but also for its rich wine-making history. Much like Tuscany, Istria’s geographical position, climate, and soil have had a significant impact on grape production throughout the centuries, making it a top producer of world-renowned wines. As further proof of the long history of wine in this part of the globe, the Kalavojna Bay near Pula got its name from the Greeks, who named it the Bay of Good Wine.
Nowadays, Istria remains one of the largest wine regions in Croatia, with its terroir facilitating the growth of vintage grape varieties. Among the many grape varieties grown here are two local specialties – Malvazija and Teran. Without further ado, let’s drive along scenic wine roads, past dreamy rolling hills, and visit some of the best wineries in Istria!
The Best Wineries in Istria
Located in Momjan, Kozlović is one of the best wineries in Istria. Wine production in this family started in 1904 and today the fourth generation runs the winery. The family’s goal is to never stop innovating while preserving the heritage and traditions of their ancestors. This has resulted in one of the most modern wineries in Istria.
Using the natural inclination of the rolling hills, the side walls are covered in Mediterranean vegetation, giving a natural cooling effect. The Kozlović wines have been recognized around the globe, can be found in Michelin-star restaurants, and are distributed to several countries, including the US.
Kozlović Winery has a variety of premium-label wines, from Malvazija and Teran to Rosé and Muscat. If you visit the winery, which is available on our Croatia and Slovenia wine itinerary, you will enjoy fresh Malvazija combined with amazing views of the Valle Valley. They also produce award-winning olive oil there and you will have the chance to try some of it as well.
Clai is located in the village of Krasice, close to Buje. Originally from Istria, the owner, Giorgio, had a small osteria in Trieste, where he lived and worked, but also a small vineyard in Istria for personal purposes. During his days in the osteria, he tried many different wines, and one day while having a glass, he started thinking that maybe he could produce his own wine. So he did.
The best word to describe Giorgio’s wines would be organic, in every sense of the word. He doesn’t use any chemicals, pesticides, yeast, or sugar. Just organic fertilizers and some biodynamic principles. He always says that he doesn’t make wine. Wine is made in the vineyard and he just waits for his efforts to turn into wine.
Giorgio’s favorite wines are blends, but besides those, you can try some Cabernets, Pinots, Sauvignons, and of course Malvazija and Refošk at the winery’s small tasting room, where Giorgio’s wife and daughter assist him and also prepare some delicacies. His daughter is also a big fan of fruit brandies and liqueurs, which means that you can also taste some of her homemade creations while there.
Dobravac is located in the beautiful Istrian city of Rovinj. Damir, the owner, originally started his career as a vegetable farmer. His production of wine came later, as a response to big supermarket chains that were dictating the prices of his vegetables. Damir thought: Why not make wine and set my own prices instead?
His family had always made wine, but like many Croatian families, it was for personal consumption rather than a business. Damir wanted something different, which was not easy, considering the number of wineries in Istria already. His stubbornness was the key. Today he can be proud of his wine collection and the awards he has won throughout the years.
He produces a variety of wines, from Malvazija and Teran to orange wines. The family hasn’t stopped the production of vegetables either, and most of the exclusive hotels in Rovinj buy their vegetables from them. If you add Rovinj as a stop to your Croatia itinerary, we can arrange for you to stay at the family’s villa, complete with the cutest little wine bar in the lobby area. You might even get the chance to meet Damir and have a chat with him over a glass of excellent wine.
Located in Krunčići, the northernmost part of the Mediterranean, Matosević differs from most of the best wineries in Istria on this list. The story of this winery doesn’t start a few generations earlier as a family tradition. Ivica, the owner, literally started from scratch.
He spent some time working in Italy where he fell in love with wine, and decided he wanted to create a perfect vineyard that would reflect in the glass. He started in his cousin’s vineyard while he was looking for his own spot, which is now in Krunčići.
Ivica often says that he did a salto mortale, a deadly spin, that changed his life completely. But it turned out to be a very successful one. From the classic and most basic wines to wine blends and aged wine, every wine lover will find their perfect glass at Matosević.
Another amateur on this list of the best wineries in Istria, the owner of Roxanich is an engineer who spent time at vineyards in France, near famous winemakers. He decided to leave engineering and follow his passion by finding the perfect place for his dream vineyard. During this search, he met a man with a similar vision, today his business partner. Together they created their vineyard in the area of Višnjan.
Some call the Roxanich wines extreme due to long macerations and maturation times. It takes seven years for the wines to move from barrels to bottles. That extreme way of winemaking has paid off, though, as those wines are globally recognized and can be found all over the world. At the winery, there’s an interesting selection that should not be missed.
In 2019, Roxanich Winery opened a hotel in the hilltop town of Motovun with huge wine cellars and tasting rooms. An interesting place to spend a few nights, don’t you think? If you agree, we can include a stay at Roxanich in your custom Croatia itinerary.
Although the Fakin family has been growing grapes for years, they had been selling them to other Istrian wineries, who in turn were winning medals for wines made from their grapes. But Marko, the owner, decided to change this policy and start producing their own wines instead. This turned out to be a great decision, as Marko started winning not just one medal at a time, but up to nine in one competition as a young Malvazija champion.
Locally, Marko is known as the garage winemaker, as everything started in his garage. Some grapes for sweet wines they even dried in their house. Marko’s philosophy is that you have to love the vineyards and vines if you want to make good wine. You need to know your grapes from beginning to end.
The Fakin wines have reasonable prices, as the family wants to stay fair towards their customers. The wine tasting room is situated at the foothills of beautiful Motovun, close to Rovinj. Get ready to try some Fakin good wines here!
Located near Umag, the Coronica team says they make wine in the vineyard and try not to ruin it in the cellar. They are unique in trying to emphasize the importance of vineyards, not cellars.
The Coronica family has been growing grapes for four generations. About 10 or 15 years ago, they started with a bit of a modern approach to winemaking.
Among their wines, you can find some great Malvazija, mineral and young, but as Moreno says, his wine of the future is Teran. Their Teran redefined the term Teran in Istria, and with his persistence, Teran is now known in the wine world as a complex wine with big potential.
In Brtonigla, you’ll find one of the biggest private winemakers in Istria, Cattunar. Winemaking started here in the ’80s. Before Malvazija came into vogue, the Cattunar team realized that it was their future, and started perfecting their production techniques right away.
They researched the four types of soil on their property (grey, red, white, and black) and planted Malvazija on each. Therefore, their offer includes Malvazija wine coming from all four different types of soil.
Besides Malvazija, they also produce Teran and Muscat, which are typical of this area, but also some of the big global names, like Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Merlot.
Trapan is located in Šišan, near the seaside city of Pula. Bruno, the owner, is yet another winemaker who started from scratch when he was just 25 years old. His attitude, energy, and confidence were very much-needed for success.
For Bruno, wine is a medium that connects people. He wants to create wines that bring joy and pleasure to people’s lives. With typical Croatian wine varieties traditionally coming from this area, he did something that people thought would be impossible. He made Syrah wines and soon he started winning prestigious awards.
At the Trapan Wine Station, besides wine, you can sample a wide gastronomic offer based on local and seasonal ingredients.
Taste The Best Istrian Wine With Us
This list of the best wineries in Istria isn’t exhaustive as there are so many quality wineries in the area that we couldn’t possibly mention them all in just one sitting. Other wineries to consider are Piquentum, Franković, Degrassi, Ipša, Meneghetti, Verlada, Tomaz, Medea, Kabola, Arman, Damjanic, Benvenut, and the list goes on.
If you’re keen on savoring the best Istrian wine during your trip to Croatia, rest assured that we will sprinkle your itinerary with visits to some of the best wineries in Istria.
Ivana came to JayWay with plenty of experience in tourism, alongside a degree in Tourism and Marketing. Although she worked with several big British tour operators over the years, Ivana found that working with big group tours wasn’t for her, since she preferred to get to know the people she was working for, and devote time to them, so JayWay was a perfect fit. Ivana naturally loves to travel, and is a big foodie, but she especially loves to read a good book, and enjoy excellent Croatian wine.
1 thought on “The Best Wineries in Istria”
Oh my goodness. We’re lovers of big red wines and just reading about touring wines in Istria is making me excited for our upcoming trip in May 2023. Hope we can work out some private touring with you to experience some of these special places! This is our first trip to Croatia and Slovenia but I’m pretty sure we’re going to want to come back for more!