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Wine Wednesday: Scenes from Istria’s Wine Roads

Mention Croatia even just a few years ago and you’d be met with questions like “Where’s that?” and “Is it safe?” But as happens when celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay-Z are spotted frolicking on the beaches or a mega-popular hit TV series like Games of Thrones films there, Croatia has burst onto the scene as the new It European destination. And why not? The boomerang shaped country boasts some of the most beautiful coastline Europe has to offer and many of its town and cities have a fascinating history. But Croatia has something else not-to-be-missed and that is traveling the wine roads of Istria where vineyards seemingly roll out from tiny, crumbling hilltop towns.

Wine Roads of IstriaBefore 1992, when Croatia was still part of Yugoslavia, there were no private wineries. There were maybe five or six state owned wineries in the entire country. So when we were planning our visit, we were shocked to find 30 or more wineries to choose from. With generous tasting glasses, it’s really only feasible to tour and taste at 2 – 3 per day. An easy 2-hour drive from our home in Northern Italy, we chose to take a day trip. Over the next few Wine Wednesdays, we’ll take a more detailed look at the three wineries we visited and what to taste, but for now, enjoy these scenes from the wine roads of Istria.

Kozlović Vina

Kozlović Vina

Kozlović Vina

As we wound our way through a crumbling village and along a road barely wide enough to be one lane, let alone two, Kozlović came in to view. Perched atop a hill opposite the nearly 1,000 year old castle of Momjan, Kozlović is run by 3rd-generation winemaker Gianfranco Kozlović. The tasting room, opened just a little more than one year ago, is like a marriage of modern architecture with the natural surroundings. Wine tasting can be enjoyed inside the modern tasting room or outside on the glass enclosed deck looking out over the vineyards.

Kabola Vina

Kabola Vina

Kabola Vina

Just a few minutes drive from Kozlović Vina, Kabola is just the opposite of modern. Sitting on a hill that looks over its vineyards and all the way out to the Adriatic Sea, the Croatian farmhouse is simply charming with its blue shutters and red geraniums. Our visit to Kabola was unplanned in advance, yet Maya was welcoming with both a tour and tasting. And completely new to us, Kabola produces a wine that spends part of its vinification process in terracotta pots buried in their vineyard. More on that next week!

Benvenuti Vina

Benvenuti Vina

Benvenuti Vina

Benvenuti Vina is located in the village of Kaldir, overlooking nearby Motovun, a little further away from Momojan. It’s family run winery where they grow three grape varieties. The village was quiet and we felt like old friends sitting around the big, oblong table in the tasting room with some other locals who were just out enjoying an evening glass of wine.

Wine Roads of IstriaKnow Before You Go

  • It’s best to rent a car to travel the wine roads of Istria. The seaside towns of Porec or Novograd are easily to reach after wine tasting.
  • Kozlović Vina is located in the countryside of Momjan. Use the GPS coordinates N 45° 26′ 35.94″, E 13° 42′ 36.13 to easily find it. The tasting room is open 8am – 5pm.
  • Kabola is located just a few minutes from Kozlović Vina at Kanedolo 90 in Momjan. The wine shop hours are 8am – 8pm. Tasting and tours should be arranged in advance.
  • Benvenuti Vina is located in the town of Motovun. Use the GPS coordinates N 45° 18′ 53”, E 13° 50′ 57” to easily find it.

  • View Larger Map

Jennifer Dombrowski

Jennifer Dombrowski is a location independent globe trotter who is based in Prata di Pordenone, Italy. She works as a social media and communications strategist and is an award-winning travel writer. She is also a travel correspondent on Traveling on the American Forces Radio Network. Jdomb's Travels 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. Google+

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  1. Frank

    Great post Jen! Love wine, didn’t know they produce it in Croatia.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    We didn’t get to visit any of the more southern wineries when we road tripped the coast last year. Just reason to go back!

    [Reply]

  2. Marina K. Villatoro

    You guys find all the fun wineries! I too didn’t know they had wine in Croatia.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    It’s like the Field of Dreams – if they build a winery, we will come. ;)

    [Reply]

  3. T.W. Anderson @ Marginal Boundaries

    Croatia’s been on my radar for a long time, but I also happened to have a lot of friends from back when I was living in Bulgaria who were always ranting about what a great place it was. Absolutely a star of Eastern Europe, and I, for one, am happy that it’s getting a better reputation with travelers these days.

    Great overview and phenomenal shots!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Thanks, T.W.! I’d never considered traveling in Croatia until we moved to Italy, but we’ve enjoyed every part that we’ve been to. Truly a beautiful country with a lot of diversity.

    [Reply]

  4. Vicki

    awesome, I always think of Croatia as drinking wine on the coast, I’d never thought about where the wine comes from -now I have a list for when I visit, those vineyards look great.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    I think when we mostly see photos of Croatia, they are of coastal cities and the islands. Croatia’s inland is beautiful though too and worth a visit!

    [Reply]

  5. Brandon Elijah Scott

    Real nice :)

    [Reply]

  6. Jessica J. Hill

    Gorgeous! I visited Croatia several years ago, but only for a week and we didn’t do any wine tasting. I’m dying to go back, and I’ll be sure to taste the grapes next time!

    I’ve just nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Check it out your award here: http://www.missadventuretravel.com/inspiring-blogger-award/

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Thanks so much for your kind words and nominating us, Jessica!

    [Reply]

  7. Carol B

    Croatia is on our list of places to go to. Love the idea of adding in some wine to our trip too! What do you think of taking kids there? Our boys are currently 9 and 15, though most likely wouldn’t be until at the earliest next summer, when they will be 10 and 16.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    The great thing about Croatia is that there is a lot of diversity. You could spend a few hours wine tasting and then head to the beach to let the kiddos play.

    [Reply]

  8. Sand In My Suitcase

    Croatia is one of our favorite European countries! We luved Hvar (for its lavender), Mali Losinj (for swimming in gin-clear coves) and Dubrovnik (for walking atop the wall).

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Dubrovnik is just incredible! We did the entire coast last year from top to bottom. We definitely want to explore more of the islands.

    [Reply]

  9. Renuka

    I have always found Croatia very fascinating (maybe because it is close to Italy). I loved your pictures!

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Croatia is definitely easily reached from Italy, lucky for us!

    [Reply]

  10. istria-apartments

    Be sure to taste wines made from the domestic varieties Muskat Momjanski, Malvasia Istriana and Teran. If you’re looking for international varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, the region’s modern wine cellars will not disappoint you. The ideal date for a trip to the north-western Istria is the Day of Open Wine Cellars that has been traditionally held in the last summer in May throughout the world.

    [Reply]

  1. Wine Wednesday: Kabola Winery's Terracotta Techinques - Jdomb's Travels

    […] For some other wineries to also visit in the area, check out Scenes from Istria’s Wine Roads. […]

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