The island of Korčula is to Croatia what Bordeaux is to France. Located in Lumbarda, the country’s largest wine-making region, it’s home to the indigenous varieties of grapes used to produce Croatia’s famous wines. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or enjoy a glass of wine occasionally, wine tasting in Korčula is a must for your Croatia bucket list. This guide breaks down everything you need to know about wine tasting in Korčula, from the types of wines that await you to the best vineyards.
Want to read more about Croatia? You’re in luck! This post is a part of the Croatia series. Here is the complete 15-part series:
Krka National Park – The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Krka National Park, Croatia
Plitvice National Park – The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Plitvice National Park, Croatia
Plitvice vs Krka – Krka vs Plitvice National Park: Which One Should You Visit?
Mljet National Park – The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Mljet National Park, Croatia
Where is Korčula?
Korčula (pronounced Kor-chu-lah) is an island located on the Southern Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, bordering the Adriatic Sea. It’s a 2-hour ferry ride from Dubrovnik. A ferry ride from Split will be about 3 hours and 45 minutes.
On the island, there’s a medieval Old Town shaped like a fishbone, with narrow alleys, cobblestone streets, and a bell tower at the centre that seems to take every few minutes. The Old Town is absolutely breathtaking and worth exploring for a few hours. I meandered through the streets for a while, snapping photos and marvelling at how picturesque the place was. To go wine tasting, you’ll have to leave the historic centre and head inland.
How do you get to Lumbarda?
Lumbarda is a small village on the eastern coast of Korčula with sandy vineyards, fisheries, and secluded beaches. There are dozens of family-owned vineyards and wineries here that have been producing a local variety of wine, Grk, for generations. The best way to get to Lumbarda is to take a taxi from the Old Town. It’s about a 15-minute drive through winding roads to get to this somewhat-remote part of the island. Warning: you might not want to leave. The area looks like a scene straight out of a Renaissance painting.
Do you need a car on Korčula Island?
You definitely don’t need to rent a car to navigate Korčula Island. Most of the Old Town and the Lumbarda region attractions can be accessed on foot. Taxis are abundant if you need a ride because tourists flock here in droves, especially during the summer. Once you arrive in the Lumbarda region, you can walk to the vineyards easily because they are close.
How long do you need in Korčula?
Korčula is such a small island that one day is sufficient to experience the main attractions. You can explore the Old Town and go wine tasting on the same day. I spent a total of 24 hours on the island on my sailing trip in Croatia, docking at around 6 am and leaving the next morning at about the same time. If you’d like to take things more leisurely, I would recommend spending two days – one day to explore the Old Town and one day to go wine tasting.
What types of wines will you find in Korčula?
The island of Korčula is well-known for its white wines, especially a variety called Grk. Other wine-growing regions on the Dalmatian Coast tend to produce red wines due to their soil content. Lumbarda is different because of its topography and proximity to the Adriatic Sea. In Lumbarda, Grk is the main speciality and the dominant wine in production. That said, you’ll also find some reds on the wine-tasting menu, particularly a variety called Plavac Mali. There are local varieties of wines and those that have been transported from other parts of Dalmatia. Let’s dive into all the different types of wines awaiting you in Lumbarda.
The word Grk (rhymes with jerk) means bitter in Croatian, possibly a reference to the dryness of this wine variety. It is acidic with a slight hint of fruit flavour – like a distant cousin of Riesling. The green grapes used to produce Grk are grown in deep sandy soil in the lower altitudes of the Lumbarda region, close to sea level. The grapes need a lot of sunlight to flourish, hence the proximity to the sea. Grk can be considered an ‘ ‘endangered wine” because not much of it is produced yearly due to low yield and a decline in plant availability. Still, you can buy a bottle or two at the vineyards in Lumbarda or any airport in Croatia…for now.
The name of this deep red wine rolls off the tongue. Pronounced Plah-vatz Mah-li, it’s grown in rocky soil along the Dalmatian Coast and in the rocky mountains of Lumbarda. This allows the red grapes to soak up the rich nutrients of the dense, rocky soil, giving the wine a dark blackberry flavour. You’ll almost taste hints of spice and figs. Plavac Mali has a higher alcohol content than Grk and less acidity.
I enjoyed my glass of Plavac Mali so much that I bought a bottle to go. It’s by far my favourite of all the wines I tried in Croatia. But I’ll let you be the judge.
Pošip, pronounced Paw-sheep, is another wine variety that is native to the island of Korčula. Like Grk, it is a white wine grown on the Korčula island for generations. However, it is not native to Lumbarda. Rather, this type of wine hails from the villages of Smokvica and Cara in the central part of the island. Pošip is a fruity and refreshing wine with hints of orange. It is just as acidic as Grk but a tad sweeter.
Croatia produces a variety of rosé made from Babić grapes, an indigenous blue grape grown in the northern part of the Dalmatian Coast. Babić grapes are grown in sandy soil near sea level like Grk grapes. This gives the rose a deep pink colour with a deep taste of black fruits and a savoury aroma. Croatian rosé may also be produced from Plavac Mali grapes, giving it an even deeper colour and a darker flavour.
Where can you go wine tasting in Korčula?
There are dozens of family-owned wineries in Korčula, in the Lumbarda region as well as in the central part of the island. For the purposes of this post, we’re sticking to the Lumbarda region, given that it is widely regarded as the place to go wine tasting in Croatia. The wineries have almost identical menus, so you only need to visit one. That said, I spent a couple of hours at two of these vineyards because they were right next to each other. I also wanted to compare the experiences. I found the other wineries on the list by doing some research and added them to my list of wineries to visit when I return to the island of Korčula.
Vitis Winery was my first stop in Lumbarda when I arrived for an afternoon of wine tasting. Instantly, I was mesmerized by the scenery – the sprawling vineyards overlooking the Adriatic Sea with Old Town in the distance.
The sommelier was a friendly Croatian woman who welcomed our group and gave us a brief lesson on wine-making in Lumbarda. She then proceeded to help us wine for three rounds of wine tasting. We tasted Grk, Plavac Mali, and Rosé. The vote among our group of over 20 women was almost unanimous: the Plavac Mali was the best. A few people ordered charcuterie boards to nibble on with the wine for an extra fee.
Price: 50 kuna per person for the standard wine-tasting experience
Located a stone’s throw away from Vitis Winery, Popić Winery is another family-owned vineyard that offers an exceptional wine-tasting experience. I personally preferred this vineyard to Vitis for two superficial reasons:
- A row of sunflowers led to the vineyard, providing a gorgeous backdrop for photos.
- There was a better selection of items on the menu to pair with the wines. The olives, in particular, were delicious.
The wine-tasting menu here is identical to that of Vitis – three rounds of Plavac Mali, Grk, and Rose. You can’t go wrong with either location, but I’m biased toward Popić. The sommelier here also talked more in-depth about how the grapes are grown, down to the type of soil. I could say this location was just livelier.
Price: 40 kuna per person for the standard wine-tasting experience
This family-run winery with a guest house offers a wine-tasting experience and a vineyard tour. You’ll taste the same three wines – Grk, Plavac Mali, and Rose – and learn about wine-making. Their speciality, though, is Grk. People rave about the hospitality of the owner and guide, Ante, and the quality of the Grk. At the time of writing this post, this winery is temporarily closed and scheduled to reopen in May 2023. You can check the Lovrić website to see when they open back up.
Price: 60 kuna per person for the standard wine-tasting experience
Bire Winery offers a tasting menu with four wines, including the staple Grk and Plavac Mali. It is a small winery tucked away in a scenic walkway with lemon trees. Based on the reviews, it seems like quite a few people found the customer service subpar. I wouldn’t rush to conclusions if I hadn’t experienced a place by myself. Note that this establishment doesn’t accept credit cards, so be sure to bring cash.
Price: 90 kuna for the standard wine-tasting experience and snack
This is one of the newest wineries in Lumbarda, located on a cove right next to the Adriatic Sea. The photos alone make me want to book a flight back to Croatia right away and head to Korčula. Like the other wineries on this list, Sabulum is a family-run establishment. They have a Grk, Plavac Mali, and Rose selection that you can order with Caprese Salad or a charcuterie board.
Price: ~ 50 kuna per person for the standard wine-tasting experience
What’s the best wine-tasting experience in Lumbarda?
You can go to each of these vineyards separately or book a wine-tasting tour of Lumbarda that will give you a taste of all of them. When I return to Korčula, that’s exactly what I’d do. I would love to return to Vitis and Popic (partly to get better photos), but I also want to experience a couple more wineries in the region. The go-to tour company I’ve used consistently since 2015 is Get Your Guide. They have a half-day wine-tasting experience that will take you.
There you have everything you need to know to have an amazing wine-tasting experience in Korčula. Use this as a general guide, and feel free to mix things up to create the experience that’s perfect for you. Happy wine tasting!
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