It has been well over a year since I’ve visited a commercial winery. Mrs. Chasing the Donkey and I would often take short trips away to see the various wine regions of Australia so that I could get my fix of quality wine and, of course, restock the depleted wine rack.
Since arriving in Croatia, the only wine cellars I’ve been to have been those of my family. Don’t get me wrong, I love our homemade wine and drink it daily, but clearly, there is a difference between the stuff we make and what’s produced by winemakers.
As you can appreciate, I’ve tried many good commercial wines in Croatia, but I’m yet to visit any of the commercial vineyards and wineries. I was delighted to find out we had a planned visit to the Stina Winery when we visited the town of Bol on Brač Island.
The Stina wine project began in 2009 when the company Jako vino leased a cellar from the Agricultural Cooperative of Bol in a town bearing the same name. The Stina winery now employs locals to purchase the grapes from vineyards owned and maintained by locals and work together to make wine on Brač Island.
The Stina Winery Vineyards
While Stina is a relatively new player in the vino market, winemaking on the island of Brač is a centuries-old tradition.
We visited the vineyard on a warm May day, taking the drive up the side of the mountain with a Stina Viticulturist who kindly took some time out of his day to take us to the vineyards perched above the settlement of Murvica. The road is set on very steep terrain, which made for a white-knuckle ride for Mrs. Ctd.
The original vineyards have been completely reconstructed with new access roads, retaining walls, and other vines planted. As we turn off the main road onto the graveled access road into the vineyard, it’s clear that this is very steep terrain. So steep, in fact, that in areas it exceeds 45 degrees.
The baby donkey was strapped into his car seat and would shout ‘wow’ from the backseat as we went over each big bump and turn. High up on the mountain ahead of our vehicle, the rows and rows of grapevines can be seen as far as the eye can see. It becomes clear that significant investment has been made and that a lot of the work in this vineyard must be done by hand.
Our guide tells us that this vineyard before us is the King of Dalmatian red wine, Plavac Mali . We complete the hair-raising ride to the relief of Mrs. CtD and stop for photos to soak in the impressive scenery.
The view from the vineyard out to the Adriatic Sea with the island of Hvar in the background is just stunning. We make a pit stop at the old Stipancic convent on our way back down from the vineyard.
Our guide takes us on a tour of the local Dragons Cave set amongst the vines. It’s at the Dragon Cave where mysteries have yet to be answered, but that’s a story for another time. Cave tour complete, we make our way back to the town of Bol and head over to the cellar.
The Stina Winery Cellar
As I mentioned previously, the Island of Brač has a long history of wine production. A local cooperative was established around 110 years ago, and a winemaking facility was built in the town center.
In 2009 Jako wines, the parent company of Stina leased the existing facility and renovated it, including a modern upgrade of all the winemaking equipment. As we arrive at the cellar, we are met by Jeri, Stina’s head sommelier, who takes us into the bar and wine tasting room.
The room is beautifully decorated with the Brač Stone that the island is so famous for. We are then whisked away and taken on a tour of the winery by the head winemaker.
Tasting The Stina Wines
Walking around vineyards and hiking to dragons’ caves in the blazing sun, especially when carrying the baby donkey, is hard work! Top that off with a cellar tour, and a man gets very thirsty!
I mean, looking at all these vines and winemaking equipment can make you go crazy. Fortunately for me, the time came for the Sommelier to show me why it is they grow grapes on the Southside of a mountain above Murvica. Time to taste wine!
The Stina company produces wine from four grape varieties, Plavac Mali, Pošip, Crljenak, and Vugava, all native Croatian grape varieties. Fun Fact: Interestingly, you may know the Crljenak as the Californian Zinfandel . It’s now been proven that the Zinfandel originates from the Crljenak in Croatia!
Being so thirsty, we tried all of the wines, but the real standouts for me were:
- Opol. A rose made from Plavac Mali. Let us just say this will be this summer’s wine in our house after we purchased many bottles. It is delightful and refreshing.
- Pošip Majstor. Those outside of Croatia may not be familiar with Pošip. Since arriving in Croatia, I have fallen in love with this white grape variety, and if you get a chance, you should give this wine a go.
- Plavac Mali Majstor Barrique. The king of the red wine in Croatia and Stina have hit the nail on the head with this Plavac Mali.
- Crljenak. Zinfandel’s daddy is growing on its home turf.
- Prosek. A dessert wine primarily made in Dalmatia. Prosek is made from Plavac Mali and Posip and is something special.
It was all so beautiful; I picked up a few cases to take home for the collection…
Visit The Stina Winery on the Island of Brač, Croatia
Clearly, I’m no wine connoisseur, so you should try the Stina wines with Jeri yourself. They are open in the afternoon as a bar and makes for a relaxing place to start your evening in Bol.
Accommodation In Bol Croatia
There are several accommodation options in Bol Croatia. Including private apartments, but your choice should be the Bluesun Hotel Elaphusa, where we enjoyed four-star luxury with views to Zlatni Rat and the Stina Winery is just a casual ten-minute stroll along the shaded promenade. Hotel Elaphusa is modern and provides exceptional service. It also has one of the largest wellness centers in Croatia, offering unique olive oil treatments.
Have You Ever Seen Such A Label?
When you buy a bottle of Stina wines, you will notice that the labels are all white. The word Stina means stone, for which Brač is world-famous. The decision was made to make the labels on the Stina bottles representative of the Brač Stone.
Further, the labels are made from a special drawing paper that closely resembles the stone, so it looks and feels like a stone; Jeri from Stina told us they encourage people to take inspiration from the wine and draw on the label. Jeri said, “the more people drink, the more creative they get.” They even have a collection of label drawings in the bar.
What do you think, have we tempted you to visit Stina or Bol?
We want you to know: My stay at Bluesun & winery tour was part of a partnered trip. All thoughts and opinions are given honestly and without bias.