The place of the only river delta in Croatia, fertile colourful grounds, exquisite gastronomy and the place of the largest vineyard in Croatia. But that is not even close to what the Neretva valley has to offer. Unique rich history in Narona, sports events with a long tradition like the marathon of authentic vessels and finally, the perfect place for one of the fastest growing sport in the world – kiteboarding. Never the less, today’s is a story about the Neretva valley and its special connection with wine.
There are about 130 autochthonous varieties of vine existing in Croatia. Among them, the most significant in Dalmatia and Croatia, in general, is Plavac Mali out of which Dingač is produced. Further, Pošip is an indigenous wine variety of the Dubrovnik- Neretva county.
The Neretva vineyards were planted back in the 18th century by the river Neretva and its rivulets. In Croatia vines had been grown by native settlers since they the beginning. After the Greeks took possession of some parts of the today’s country they continued with the cultivating and developing of different vine varieties. In the ruling times of Duke Mutimir, there was an officer of the court, a cupbearer, in charge of storing and dispensing of wine. The period of flourishing continued until around the late second half of the 19th century when a vine disease occurred. After the phylloxera infection of the roots, one of the old vine varieties “plavka” died out.
The Neretva wine district includes Metković, Ploče, Opuzen, Kula Norinska, Pojezerje, Slivno, and Zažablje. The Meditteranean climate which rules these grounds makes the perfect surrounding for vine cultivation. During one year this area has an average of 2700 hours of sunshine.
Today, acres of underbrush and karst on the hill slopes near Komarna have been transformed into vineyards. The vineyard in Pojezerje is the largest in Croatia.
There are over 40 varieties of vine recommended for cultivation for this area. Among them, one can find Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Chardonnay, Bratkovina, Muškat ruža crni, Muškat žuti, Ninčuša, Plavac mali crni, Plavac mali sivi, Plavina, Vlaška, Vranac, Vugava, Zlatarica, Žilavka and many others.
Bratkovina is a white autochthonous variety and different from others from this area. Its main characteristic is the ability to accumulate acid.
Vranac has been cultivated for ages and is a very a distinctive wine. This vine has the ability to accumulate a high percentage of sugar and the produced wine is of valued dark red to velvet blue-violet colour and has a high alcohol content.
Zlatarica is a sort of white grape also recommended for cultivation in the particular area of the Dalmatian hinterland. This variety, in general, gives a lot of grapes and has a good ability to accumulate sugar.
Mike Grgich or Miljenko Grgić was born in the town Desne, near Kula Norinska in the Neretva valley and comes from a long line of winegrowers. His fame began back in 1976, when he, working as the lead enologist for the Chateau Montelena in Calistoga, Napa, produced a soon to be epic Chardonnay. To the surprise of the whole world, his Chardonnay was proclaimed the best at a blind tasting in Paris. The wine beat so French Chardonnays, then considered to be the best in the world; as they are also considered to be today. Grgić studied viticulture at the University of Zagreb.
Today, at 93, Grgich owns his own winery in California, the Grgich Hills Estate, and a vineyard and winery in Trstenik near Pelješac. A movie titled “Judgement in Paris” is beeing filmed about Grgić’s life.
There are a number of wineries in the Neretva valley who offer a wide range of activities and have a rich gastronomic and wine offer.
The Rizman winery started their production 10 years ago, in 2006. New locations were found, new vineyards were created and all the necessary new equipment was obtained to be able to produce the highest quality wine possible. The tasting room of the winery offers, aside from wine tasting, a breathtaking view, and extra virgin olive oil from their own organic olive farms.
The Prović winery and cellar is a family run one and the part of the hotel Merlot in Opuzen. The winery tells a story of a wine with character, of tastes and smells of the Neretva valley and of a personal touch this family of winemakers gives to their wines. Visitors are introduced to a world of wine that combines tradition and modernity but is able to remain unique and personal on every level.
In the traditionally renovated house, the Antunović winery offers wine tastings and local dishes. As an addition, it is possible to arrange a tour through the largest Croatian vineyard. In the season of grape harvesting, guests can also participate in the winemaking process. The winery produces Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay and Zlatarica.
The winery Veraja in Metković is a bit of a special one. This family who started producing a few years back in their own wine cellars broke the myth about the lower Neretva valley being unsuitable for vine growing. Because of them, beside mandarines, quality grapes are being grown in that particular area. The cellars are modernized and the wine is being produced by the most recent technologies. Wine tastings are organized per request.
Neretva will offer you an unforgettable experience. Take your time in exploring everything from the history, gastronomy and culture – you will not be disappointed.