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article imageHvar Wine Association hosts major regional press trip in Croatia Special

By Paul Bradbury     May 6, 2013 in Travel
Hvar - A group of influential regional journalists spend a day on Hvar discovering one of Croatia's most exciting wine regions.
After another successful presentation of Croatian wines at Dalmacija Wine Expo, a group of 17 regional wine journalists headed to the island of Hvar on May 5, 2013 at the invitation of the Hvar Wine Association to discover more about the exciting developments in the wines of an island currently better known for its sunshine and beaches, an event attended by Digital Journal.
As previously reported on Digital Journal, the association recently announced a new concept in wine tourism for the island - Hvar Wine Time Traveller - which allows tourists to discover the wines of Hvar in the context of its rich wine history and heritage dating back to the Ancient Greeks in 384 BC.
The 17 journalists arrived by boat from Makarska
The 17 journalists arrived by boat from Makarska
The group sailed into Jelsa, where they were met by Hvar Wine Association president Ivana Krstulovic Caric and guide Sinisa Mikulcic-Matkovic from Secret Hvar, before being taken on a tour of the Bastijana winery owned by Andro Tomic. Tomic has been in the news recently at the centre of the prosek v prosecco debate which has so enraged the country's winemakers, and an interview he gave to Associated Press on the subject also appeared online yesterday.
The Romanesque tasting rooms of Andro Tomic were the first stop in Jelsa
The Romanesque tasting rooms of Andro Tomic were the first stop in Jelsa
A drive through the wine village of Svirce and brief stop at the vineyards of Vrisnik were followed by a visit to the fabled sloping southern slopes of Ivan Dolac, which has some of the best conditions for the growing of Croatia's most famous grape variety, Plavac Mali, which is a relative of the more internationally recognised Zinfandel.
The southern  sloping vineyards down to the sea in Ivan Dolac  belonging to Vina Caric
The southern, sloping vineyards down to the sea in Ivan Dolac, belonging to Vina Caric
After a tour of the church in Ivan Dolac, where the story of the devastating effects of phylloxera were explained, it was time for lunch with a sea view, and a tasting of the wines of the village of Svirce's two premier producers, Caric and the Svirce Cooperative. Included in the tasting was the early summer drinking wine of Bogdanusa, a grape indigenous to Hvar and literally translating as a 'gift from God'. The Hvar Wine Association is organising a Month of Bogdanusa in Split and on Hvar in June, in a major promotion of indigenous grape varieties.
Tasting the wines of Caric and the Svirce Cooperative over lunch and sea view in Ivan Dolac
Tasting the wines of Caric and the Svirce Cooperative over lunch and sea view in Ivan Dolac
A short drive along Hvar's stunning southern coast brought the group to Sveta Nedjelja and the winery of Hvar's most famous producer, Zlatan Otok, where owner Zlatan Plenkovic - whose growing list of exports will soon include Russia and China - was on hand to lead the journalists through the Zlatan wines and story. The tasting included his Posip white wine, which won a gold medal at the Decanter awards at the London Wine Trade Fair last year.
Hvar s leading winemaker Zlatan Plenkovic posing with journalists at his Zlatan Otok winery in Sveta...
Hvar's leading winemaker Zlatan Plenkovic posing with journalists at his Zlatan Otok winery in Sveta Nedjelja
Dalmatia is Dalmatia, and there were plenty of moments to savour the reality of life and the relaxed pace. How many other major wineries in the world play host to Sunday afternoon 'balote' in the middle of the complex?
This being Dalmatia  a spot of Sunday afternoon  balote  next to the huge Zlatan Otok storage tanks
This being Dalmatia, a spot of Sunday afternoon 'balote' next to the huge Zlatan Otok storage tanks
One of the most eagerly-awaited aspects of the 8-hour trip was a visit to the oldest certified surviving Plavac Mali vineyard in the world, dating back to the 1860s. It survived the attack of phylloxera due to its sandy soil, and owner Ivo Surjak was on hand to answer questions, as well as offer some light refreshment from the grapes of the oldest vines. To watch an explanation of the oldest Plavac Mali vineyard from his son Sime, watch the video below. A planned trip to the UNESCO-protected Stari Grad Plain, under constant olive and grape cultivation since the arrival of the Ancient Greeks in 384 BC had to be cut short on account of time.
Ivo Surjak  owner of the oldest plavac mali vineyard in the world  with a sample of the fruits of hi...
Ivo Surjak, owner of the oldest plavac mali vineyard in the world, with a sample of the fruits of his vines
Stasa Cafuta Trcek
The final port of call was back in the wine town of Jelsa, where Croatia's leading garage winemaker Ivo Dubokovic - who exports as far away as Singapore - welcomed the group into his konoba and took them through his range of 11 wines.
The final tasting  with Croatia s leading garage winemaker  Ivo Dubokovic in Jelsa
The final tasting, with Croatia's leading garage winemaker, Ivo Dubokovic in Jelsa
A successful day, and influential wine journalists such as Poland's leading wine writer, Wojciech Bońkowski, boarded the boat back to Makarska in good heart and an intense and very diverse introduction to the wines and vineyards of Hvar.
The trip included some of the region s most influential wine writers  including Wojciech Bońkowski ...
The trip included some of the region's most influential wine writers, including Wojciech Bońkowski from the Polish Wine Guide
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