Did you know that Istria’s history of wine pre-dates the Roman occupation? And when the Romans did move in, one of their emperors lost his head over the lovely Istrian wine? Or that Istria has more than 100 small wineries, nestled among its green hills?
So you can undo worries and do some great wine tasting!
Thanks to the perfect climate and at least four types of soil, Istria is indeed home to a diverse range of exciting wines, as Decanter claims. Our suggestion is to go winery hopping. Visit the most renowned Istrian winemakers, but also stop by the smaller and charming wineries.
If you’re interested in visiting some of the best Istrian vineyards, combined with lunching on the superb Istrian gastronomy at a local restaurant (konoba), our staff can help you plan a perfect winery day trip. You can drive yourself or, if you’d like to be driven, book with us for a relaxed day out.
You can check out some of our favourites in the recommended itineraries below. Wines from all of these vineyards are stocked in Bar Melegran as well as the cellar of our hilltop villa close to the jazz town of Groszjan. Please do ask us if you’d like information about staying in the villa.
1. A Little Tipple
Rovinj – Kabola Vineyard – Kozlovic Vineyard – Lunch (at either Konoba Rino or Konoba Stari Podrum) – Franc Arman Vineyard – Return to Rovinj.
Drive time is approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. Total trip is approximately 4 – 5 hours depending on how long you may want to spend at the vineyards and lunch.
Kabola: One of the most picturesque vineyards
Kozlovic: A larger and renowned vineyard, with modern setting
Franc Arman: Quaint family business with grassy area overlooking vineyard to enjoy a tipple.
The Restaurants: Both restaurants are close to the vineyards and at either restaurant you’ll often see vehicles with Italian license plates, regularly on a Sunday, and not in holiday season. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to assume that’s a good sign.
Stari Podrum’s glass walls which can be opened to its cute garden give it an airy feel and its cuisine, although typically Istrian, also borrows from its neighbour, (and once owner of Istria), Italy. Particularly good are the pasta dishes with truffles or the Istrian ox, boškarin.
Rino is your classic Istrian konoba with sturdy wooden beams spanning the ceiling, lovely hilltop views and a welcoming (even in summer) fireplace which is also used for cooking. Start with the excellent bean soups, fresh salads and then dive into the meat specialty dishes.
2. “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” (Oscar Wilde)
This experience follows the Little Tipple but adds in a couple of vineyards on the way home, to arrive merrily back into Rovinj. The extra drive time is around 30 minutes.
Rovinj – Kabola Vineyard – Kozlovic Vineyard – Lunch (at either Konoba Rino or Konoba Stari Podrum) – Franc Arman Vineyard – Benvenuti Vineyard – Radovan Vineyard – Return to Rovinj
Benvenuti Vineyard: Situated in the quiet Istrian village of Kaldir, overlooking the nearby oft visited town of Motovun, the Melegran’s owners have always enjoyed the Malvasia wine from Benvenuti ever since it was served as the white wine at their wedding in Rovinj. Livio, the father, and his two sons, Albert and Nikola Benvenuti always provide a warm welcome to novices and wine aficionados alike.
Radovan Vineyard: Not as picturesque as some of the other vineyards, what it lacks in views over the vines it makes up for in hospitality. Radovan wines are found on most wine menus in Croatia, especially the merlot (another wedding wine of the owners). As the merlot is quite popular, it’s worth trying to grab a bottle from the source!