Change language

5 unmissable wine stops in Southern Dalmatia

There’s an old Dalmatian proverb that says a fish swims three times: the first time in the sea; the second time in olive oil; and the third time in wine. So it’s no surprise that this sun-drenched region of Croatia really loves its wine. Dalmatians have been perfecting the art of vinification since 2200 BCE, using limestone-laden fields to produce wines that are deceptively easy to drink, yet revelatory. It’s as if you can taste the salty Adriatic, the chalky karst-filled earth, and the Mediterranean sun all in one sip.

These destinations have been recommended by Booking.com travellers for wine. The wine is unique to the region, and most of it is minimally exported – all the more reason to travel to this land of pine, sun, and sea.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik glitters from head to toe. Orange rooftops and white limestone streets shine under a blue sky, and the Adriatic shimmers seductively up to the rocky slabs of the harbour. But this ancient city doesn’t just look good – its food and drink are heavenly, with specialities like buzara (a rich shellfish scampi) served alongside glasses of juicy wine.
One of the best vintages is Malvasia. A dry white from the nearby Konavle Valley, it has a bright, grapey flavour that’s perfect with freshly caught fish – or just on its own. Grab a chilled bottle and take it to the rocks east of the harbour, where you can watch the sun set over the Old Town.

Where to stay?
Wine-lovers often stay at Hotel Neptun Dubrovnik, a beachside property with a clifftop pool about 10 minutes’ drive from the Old Town.

Orebić, Pelješac Peninsula

This pine-covered peninsula stretches out to sea just an hour and a half’s drive north of Dubrovnik – but with a sparse population and pristine scenery, it seems worlds away. Wineries tumble down the hillsides from the oyster-rich town of Stonn all the way to Orebić, creating a natural tasting route for road-trippers.
The crowning glory is undoubtedly Dingač and Postup. These two varieties of the Plavac Mali grape are deep red and velvety, with a full-bodied and fruity finish. Grown along the stony southern coastline, both wines were granted special appellations in the 1960s – the first Croatian wines to have the honour.

Where to stay?
Aminess Grand Azur Hotel is situated directly on Orebić’s white-pebble beach, which is fringed with pine trees and looks out over Korcula Island.

Lumbarda, Korcula Island

Just a quick ferry ride across from Orebić lies the tiny island of Korcula. The Old Town walls are encircled by idyllic beaches, fanning out towards the mountains of Pelješac. Locals serve Posip, a fresh white that’s endlessly drinkable – despite being a hefty 14%.
A 6-km drive through olive groves and pine forests gets you to Lumbarda, a peaceful village in the limestone hills that’s world-renowned for its unique white wine – Grk. This lemony, herbaceous wine is grown exclusively from female vines, meaning it has to be pollinated by Plavac Mali planted nearby. As a result, only around 30,000 bottles are made each year.

Where to stay?
Lumbarda’s Pension Lovrić has spacious terraces that are ideal for wining and dining. Don’t miss the traditional feasts cooked on site, which pair effortlessly with a glass of Grk.

Hvar Island

Another short ferry ride from Korcula gets you to the glamorous island of Hvar, known for its delicious coastline and even more delicious wine. The absolute best is Bogdanuša, an early drinking white that’s often green-yellow or golden in colour. Many fans say it tastes a bit like lavender – probably not a coincidence given that Hvar is covered in fields of the stuff.
To get close to the source, head to the Stari Grad plain at the centre of the island. This fertile landscape has remained intact since the 4th century BCE, when the Greeks colonised Dalmatia and planted grape and olive groves. The Bogdanuša grape can only be grown in this rich, moist soil, which is quite unique to the island given that most of Dalmatia is covered in dry karst. The wine is translated as 'a gift from God' – take a sip and you’ll probably agree.

Where to stay?
Hotel Fortuna is an idyllic, family-run hotel in the village of Milna, set on a quiet pebble beach with its own restaurant.

Vis Island

Vis is the farthest Dalmatian island from the mainland. It was once used as a military outpost for the Yugoslav army and only recently as a getaway for tourists, lending it an air of mystery and isolation. Wine has been produced here for over 6,000 years, with a fishing tradition right alongside it.
The white grape Vugava was probably brought to the island by the Roman army. It's thought by some to be the ancestor of Viognier, due to its similar palette and delicate cultivation. The result is a sweet, fruit-heavy wine best paired with rich seafood and poultry dishes, or blended with Chardonnay, Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc for a more modern flavour.

Where to stay?
Studio Apartments Kuljiš is in the historic centre of Vis Town – as lively as it gets on this sleepy island. The studios have sea views, and are walking distance from bars and restaurants.

** These properties were chosen due to their popularity with Booking.com guests who endorsed the destinations for ‘wine’, or because their reviews mentioned the local wine.