Promoting 2400 Years of Wine Culture
Of the many sectors of tourism on the island in recent years, the work of the Hvar Wine Assocation has been particularly impressive.
Many tourists leave the island without realizing that Hvar is an island with a rich tradition in wine, dating back some 2400 years to the arrival of the Ancient Greeks in 384 BC.
It is fair to say that Hvar was a much more important wine producer in the 19th century, when some 5700 hectares of land were under cultivation compared to vineyards of just 280 hectares today, but what the present-day winemakers lack in quantity is more than made up in quality.
To give but a few examples, Ivo Carić from Svirče has started exports to Chicago, California and Italy in the last 18 months; Ivo Duboković in Jelsa is regarded as Croatia's leading boutique winemaker, with exports as far away as Singapore; Zlatan Otok, winner of Decanter Gold for his Pošip at the London Wine Trade Fair includes Russia and China in his export markets; and PZ Svirče, producer of Croatia's first certified organic Plavac Mali in 2003, won organic gold in Germany for their Ivan Dolac Barrique.
Of particular interest to wine experts are the indigenous grape varieties on Hvar. While Plavac Mali, a relative of Zinfandel, is grown elsehwere in Dalmatia, the fabled steep slopes on Hvar's southern side make are among the best conditions for its cultivation in the world. Indigenous white varieties such as Bogdanuša and the vowel-starved Prč are indigenous only to Hvar, and they are slowly attracting international attention, with Carić winning silver at BIWC in Sofia with his Bogdanuša.
In order to better promote and to brand the wines, 13 of the island's winemakers came together in 2010 to form the Hvar Wine Association. The winemakers present their wines under a unified umbrella, and by working together, they can better promote the island and its wines.
The energetic leadership of current president Ivana Krstulović Carić, who has just been reelected for another two-year term, has coincided to a visible increase in the winemakers' presence in the tourist calendar, and the tastings with music that they have put on in pretty Dalmatian stone squares around the island are growing in popularity.
An example of a charming wine tasting on the beautiful Škor square in the town of Stari Grad you can see in the next short video -
Not been to a Hvar Wine Association tasting yet? There are four scheduled for the first half of this month - Vrbanj (August 3), Hvar Town (August 5) and Stari Grad (August 9 and 12).
*Author - Paul Bradbury
*Photo Credit - Antonio Rossetti / Rossetti PHOTO