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Wine Wednesday: Kabola Winery’s Terracotta Techniques

Vineyards of grapes dot the hillsides in the completely unspoiled countryside of Croatia’s Istrian peninsula. Near Momjan, a charming farmhouse with blue shutters practically beckoned us to visit. With a view of the Dolomites on one side and the lush green leading to the Adriatic Sea on the other, you just get a feeling that Kabola Winery is something special.

Kabola WineryThe Markežić family has been growing grapes here since 1891 when they planted the first vineyard of Momjan Muscat, a variety of grapes only grown in the Momjan area of Istria. Of course, Istrian Malvasia, the most common grape variety of Istria, is also grown here in the soil rich in clay and marl.

Kabola Winery

Terracotta pots buried in the vineyard

Kabola Winery does something special with their Istrian Malvasia grapes. Buried in their vineyard are 8 terracotta clay pots and only the very best grapes begin their vinification process here. Fermentation begins with the grapes in their skins for 6 – 7 months inside the terracotta pots (called amphora), fermenting in their own yeasts. The ground keeps the pots at 10-12°C. After maceration in the pots, the grapes are pressed and then aged in Slavonian oak barrels for 1 – 1.5 years. After bottling, the wine is further aged in the bottle for another 1 – 1.5 years.

Kabola Winery

A terracotta pot like those buried in the vineyard sits outside the winery

The amber colored 2007 Malvasia Amphora, of which the name comes from the ancient vinification process, has aromas of sweet caramel. It’s a rich white wine with tastes of raisins, dried figs and hints of honey and cognac. It would pair wonderfully with red meats, dishes with truffles (especially the famous white truffles of the region), and hard cheeses. It is best served at 16°C.

Kabola WineryMalvasia Amphora was our favorite of the Kabola Winery wines, but they produce other wines to note as well. Their red Terran has won awards as the best Terran and the 2007 is spicy with aromas of pepper. It was a particularly hot day when we visited, so the Malvasia 2009, which is aged in oak for 18 months, was refreshing and smooth with a tingling finish from the acidity. Of course, also be sure to try the Momjan Muscat, which is indigenous to this area of Istria. It is a sweet wine, so should be drank as an apertif or with a light dessert.

Kabola Winery Kabola WineryA tour of the wine cellar and small wine museum and tasting can be arranged in advance. Tastings can be paired with with Istrian delicacies like Istrian ham, extra-virgin olive oil, and truffles from the local area. The tasting room is cozy and a fantastic place to enjoy Kabola Winery wines!

Know Before You Go

  • Kabola Winery is located at Kanedolo 90 in Momjan. The wine shop hours are 8am – 8pm. Tasting and tours should be arranged in advance.
  • For some other wineries to also visit in the area, check out Scenes from Istria’s Wine Roads.

Jennifer Dombrowski

Jennifer Dombrowski is a location independent globe trotter who is based in Prata di Pordenone, Italy. She works as a freelance social media strategist and is an award-winning travel writer. She is also a travel correspondent on Traveling on the American Forces Radio Network. Luxe Adventure Traveler was named one of the top travel blogs to watch by the Huffington Post and has been featured by top publications such as CNN, Buzzfeed , and The Telegraph. Her iPhoneograpy has also been featured on publications such as USA Today and Travel + Leisure and on the Travel Channel.

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  1. Savi of Bruised Passports

    Those terracotta pots look stunning. We couldn’t visit the Istrian Peninsula while driving through Croatia, but this has persuaded me to go back sooner rather than later


    Jennifer Reply:

    The Istrian peninsula is a gorgeous part of Croatia! You have the wine country more inland, but also beautiful beach towns like Rovinj, Novigrad, and Pula. Lucky for us, Istria is the closest part of Croatia to us and we can easily reach it in about 2-3 hours.


  2. Travel Scamming

    Wow, I've never had Croatian wine! Makes me want to visit….


  3. Renuka

    Wow..I loved the pictures! Although I am not a wine lover, this description entices me to discover the winery!


    Jennifer Reply:

    Thanks, Renuka! We actually didn’t really like wine until about 4 years ago. We started drinking sweet wines, but our tastes have matured and we enjoy many types of wine. I bet you could find at least one type that you like!


  4. Jdomb's Travels

    Croatian wines aren't produced in huge quantities so are not exported much. You can find them, but they are often overlooked.


  1. 14 Places to Go in 2014 - Jdomb's Travels

    […] to drink: In Istria, visit Kabola Winery to try their Malvasia Amphora. This white wine still uses ancient vinification processes and is […]

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