Even if you know your demi-secs from your cuvées, wineries in Split have some surprises for you. It’s not a stretch to say that you’ll try wines in Croatia the like of which you’ve never tasted before. Ancient grape varietals and thousands of years of wine making have largely been kept in country – until recently. So approach wine tours in Split with a palate ready for something new. And, if you’re only a casual wine drinker, you’ll be happy to know, not every wine experience comes fully loaded with a full rundown of barrel ageing, vine growing and vineyard history.
A little bit of backstory…
Before you scamper off on a wine tour, taste a few glasses in a wine bar or stock up on your Croatian vintages, we’ll drop some Split wine intel. It was the Ancient Greeks who brought viticulture to these shores. And, in the 2,500 years since, the wine scene has flourished to establish Split, and Croatia, as an old–world wine producer. Though, that doesn’t stop them getting up to some arguably controversial shenanigans with their reds and whites. Here, wine is often mixed with sparkling or still water to make bevanda (red) or gemišt (white). All above board, of course. But if diluted wine is firmly on your ‘no’ list, be sure to avoid those menu items.
Perhaps the Roman’s left their biggest wine stamp on Split’s city streets. The basement of Diocletian’s Palace still holds parts of the original wine press, and the cellars that once stored the Emperor’s wine are still explorable today. Outside the city, growers are producing wine from around 130 different grape varieties, some of which potentially date back to those early Greek settlers. So, should you plump for one of the many wine tours in Split, expect to have your wine palate wowed with unique wines that bear little resemblance to the Med-style reds and fruity Italian vintages we know so well.
Once a day, Putalj Winery opens its doors to Split visitors eager to taste their wine, provided there’s space in their busy reservations calendar. The good news is, if you do get a spot on their tour, they’ll pick you up and drop you off in central Split. The bad news? This isn’t the cheapest wine tour you’ll ever take. The €80 fee affords you a skip around the vineyard and barrel room, tastings from bottled vintages – and a crack at some wine fresh from the fermentation tanks. You’ll also get some light bites – think bread, cheese and charcuterie, along with an olive oil tasting. You are hosted by the owners and there’s a lift thrown in too, but you may not be too concerned if they happen to be booked up on your chosen day.
If the €80 fee for Putalj Winery has you looking for other options, consider a trip to the Vučica Winery. Here, the most expensive wine tasting comes in at around €42. For that, they’ll pour out 5 wines and pair them with a slightly more appealing snack platter. Homemade cheeses, black olives, smoked prosciutto and homemade bread and olive oil will certainly get your tastebuds dancing. This is perhaps more of a gastronomic experience, though, with price levels dropping down as low as €13.30 for a taste of just three wines, there are options for all. Few frills here but that might be just what you’re looking for.
There’s something undeniably charming about wineries that dabble in the more rustic end of the market. And, pleasingly, Bedalov Winery is no exception. Their organic vineyard in the Kaštela hills focusses on indigenous vine varieties that love the elevated and blustery conditions you find 400 metres above sea level. Slightly nearer the coast, they’ve commandeered a traditional Dalmatian home to host wine tastings in. Around a 20 minute drive from Split, the house is the kind of place where you can drop in any time (during working hours) for a tasting, or to pick up a bottle or two. The best way to experience this winery? Book in for one of their seasonal, home cooked meals that, naturally, pair well with their wines.
Walking Tour - with Food & Wine Tasting
If you’re only planning on spending two days in Split, this nice little all-rounder from Split Walking Tours is the answer. €40 buys you over two hours in which to tick off all the main sights – Diocletian’s Palace, the Riva, People’s Square, along with a taste of three wines and some classic Split snacks. A local guide gives you the rundown on Split’s history, before handing over to a sommeliere who’ll take you through Croatia’s wine story. Very much an overview of everything – but sometimes that’s the perfect intro to a city you’re only in for a short while.
Hvar Island Vineyard Tour
For a more in depth peek into the world of wineries in Split, the full day Vineyard Tour from Ilirio’s Hvar Tours is just the ticket. You’ll hop on the ferry to Hvar, where you’ll learn about wines, vineyards and their connection to the church at the Hvar Holy Vineyard. With a little more time at your disposal, there’s a chance to enjoy a typical Dalmatian lunch. Of course, there’s plenty of wine tasting afoot as well. Expect to peer into the wine cellar, hear tales from the vineyard and discover why Zinfandel shouldn’t be thought of as a Californian wine. The island scenery and the relaxed but knowledgeable vibe makes this one a must for wine connoisseurs looking to indulge in their favourite hobby for a day.
Paradox Wine and Cheese Bar
Ask anyone in Split for a wine bar recommendation, and they’ll point you firmly in the direction of Paradox. Pleasingly, the focus here is fully on Croatian produce. 15 different cheeses take your tastebuds on a tour of the country’s dairy producers, while an ever growing wine list pairs perfectly with the bold, ripe flavours. Yes, this spot can get busy – and we’re certainly not helping by adding another recommendation to the list, but do drop in if you spy an empty stool at the bar. Just… well, do try and forgive them for making them look like wine corks. A questionable move in an otherwise flawless execution of a wine bar.
Marvlvs Library Jazz Bar
Ok, this isn’t strictly a wine bar – and you may well have to endure some jazz if you step through the doors. But, Marvlvs Library Jazz Bar does have an extensive drinks list – and chilled ambience. So, if you’re in Split with travel companions who just aren’t that into their wine, this is the place to be. It’s a little quirky, but we’ll allow them that. The literary references – including the book-styled drinks menus – all come down to the fact that the building was once home to the Father of Croatian Literature, Marko Marulić. We’re yet to find an explanation for the jazz… No matter, you’re here for the cosy atmosphere, book nooks and a chat with the barman on recommendations for local tipples.