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An innovative approach to life
When Dražan Krolo started his company, wine was not in the equation. An engineer by trade, entrepreneur by heart, Dražan entered the construction business and made a name for himself as one of the most innovative and creative people in the industry. Soon, his other patented inventions such as custom spit roasts for lamb and pork and handmade fireplaces where up and running and selling worldwide.
Wine came into the equation years later, when his core businesses where stable enough, Dražan and his wife Karolina turned their attention to a new labor of love. A family estate and a winery in a small village just outside of Trilj called Strmen Dolac combines the most important things in their lives; innovations, hard work, love and family.
A small vineyard in a foggy and secluded part of Dalmatian hinterland, successfully grows Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay and of course Zinfandel (Crljenak Kaštelanski). In the cellar, Dražan has successfully continued his innovative ways with new technologies and projects. And results are outstanding; their Zinfandel is one of the most sought after wines in Dalmatia and their powerful Cabernet-Merlot blends and lively and fresh Chardonnay are not far behind.
Dražan and his family created a small paradise for themselves away from the stress of urban lifestyle and are more than willing to welcome all people with open minds into their winery, vineyards, house and their hearts.
Contact us to set up a visit to this secluded family estate, or visit it as a part of our tour of Dalmatian Hinterland. Private tastings, lunches, production and vineyard visits all are options; you just have to open your mind to a different kind of Dalmatia, an innovative one.
Hedonism through centuries
Located in Kaštel Kambelovac, the third of seven historic cities of Kaštela, Jakša Bedalov is continuing the tradition of hospitality and winemaking that has been present in his family for over 400 years. Bedalov family prides itself on organically growing only indigenous, to the world unknown varietals, such as Ninčuša, Babica, Ljutun and Dobričić. The staples of the house are Zinfandel (or Crljenak as they call it in Kaštela) and Plavac Mali, the famous and powerful offspring of Zinfandel. Jakša is planning to reunite the whole family of grapes in one majestic cuvee where mother and father, Crljenak and Dobričić will be blended with their famed son Plavac Mail creating a reunion for the ages.
Other than making wine and liquors Jakša grows Mediterranean spices in his garden and uses them extensively in his cooking. He is known as one best chefs among winemakers and he is also a trained sommelier. Watch out for the incredibly special and unique Zinfandel risotto.
View for the tasting room terrace, at approx. 400 m altitude, is the most complete panoramic view of Kaštela, Split and the surrounding area, all the way to the islands, that you can get without getting into a helicopter and flying over the bay.
If you want to set up a visit to the winery, taste wine at the 400m high tasting room and learn more about the true origins of Zinfandel join us on our “The Birthplace of Zinfandel” tour or contact us for a separate winery visit. As mentioned, Jakša is an amazing chef, and can prepare a delicate tasting menu to accompany his wines, or guide you through a whole four course meal or original and fresh Croatian food paired with unique and interesting wine from his vineyards.
Investing in a passion
The story of Anton Kovač and Putalj winery is a story of passion. Only a few people in the world have a true love in something as simple as wine. Anton does. Upon selling a large chunk of land to a supermarket chain Anton decided, that rather than retiring, he will invest in something he adores. Fast forward a few years and Anton is sitting in a modern cellar, with a newly planted Zinfandel vineyard. Located in Kaštel Sućurac, the first of seven towns of Kaštela, Anton works his own vineyard at 400 m altitude by hand, and year after year produces better and better wines. Anton has also planted Plavac Mali (the widely popular Zinfandel offspring) and has started to experiment with a rose wine made from Zinfandel (dry, not connected to Franzia’s White Zinfandel “style” in any shape or form).
If you want to set up a tasting at the winery, go see the 400m high vineyard and learn more about the true origins of Zinfandel join us on our “The Birthplace of Zinfandel” tour or contact us for a separate winery visit. Anton is always glad to meet wine enthusiasts from around the world and will welcome you with a selection of his wines and incredible cheese, oil and bread.
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Kaštela & Split Wine Tour
The Kaštela & Split wine tour includes:
- Visit to historical Biblical Garden with short tasting and regions winemaking history introduction
- Tasting at Putalj Winery, cellar visit, production area visit, vineyard visit
- Tasting at Vuina Cellar with production and barrell room tour (approx. 3 wines paired with local delicacies)
- Private sommelier guide throughout the tour
- Transport to wineries and back to Split
- Note: tour features mostly red wine, to incorporate more white wines please contact usMeeting point: Accommodation or other upon request
Departure time: Flexible, upon request
Duration: approx. 5 hours
120 euros per person (shared up to 6 people)
170 euros per person (private)
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The birthplace of Zinfandel
Widely considered an American original, Zinfandel has found its way to become a Thanksgiving Day classic. However, a series of events in recent years shine a new light on the true origins of Zinfandel. Team of enthusiasts led by Croatian born Californian winemaker Mike Grgich traced back the origins of Zinfandel to hillside of Split specifically the town of Kaštela.
Original name for Zinfandel was and still is Crljenak Kaštelanski, and it is experiencing a rebirth in Kaštela and the surrounding area. Small family plots are becoming serious vineyards, improvised wineries are getting upgraded with technology and serious Zinfandel wine is starting to be produced after hundreds of year’s absence.
The Art of Wine project puts strong emphasis on helping new winemakers in Kaštela get their story heard and getting people all around the world introduced to the story of Crljenak Kaštelanski and his long road back home. The tour starts at The Art of Wine store where you will get the whole history behind Zinfandels journey to USA and back, taste some interesting wines and feast on special homemade delicacies.
Next stop on the tour is Putalj winery in Kaštel Sućurac where our host will be Anton Kovač, long time vineyard owner who after selling his family land to a big supermarket decided to invest all of the money back in the family vineyard and build a new modern wine cellar. Anton produces a fresh and lively Zinfandel witch pairs perfectly with sheep’s milk cheese and Anton’s homemade olive oil and fresh baguettes.
A real feast waits at our next stop in Bedalov winery, where the winemaker himself will cook a four course meal that pairs perfectly with his wines (think Zinfandel risotto). Jakša Bedalov and his family are producing wine for over 700 years so you now some serious history lessons await at his Vagabundo tasting room. After a long day of good food and wine experiences we will take you to the Biblical Garden in Kaštel Novi, one of twenty in the world.
Short stroll through the garden will be refreshing and educational as you will get to know a lot of medicinal and aromatic herbs used in Croatian cuisine. At the very end of the garden, you will get the chance to take your picture next to the original Zinfandel vines. A small 12-vine vineyard was planted by former mayor of Yountville, Mary Lou Hunt and Mike Grgich himself in honor of the discovery about Zinfandels origins.
Imotski Wine Tour
The Imotski wine tour includes:
- Tasting at Grabovac winery, vineyards visits, tour of the cellar, barrel tasting (approx. 8-10 wines paired with local delicacies)
- Wine paired lunch/dinner at Krolo vinery, vineyard visit, cellar tour, barrel tasting (three course meal with paired wines)
- Private sommelier guide throughout the tour
- Transport to vineries and back to Split
180 euros per person (shared up to 6 people)
200 euros per person (private)
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The other side of Dalmatia – Wines of Dalmatian hinterland
Dalmatia has always been, and rightfully so, known for its amazing coastline, hundreds of islands, Adriatic Sea and everything that goes with it. However, some of the true gems of Croatian wine, food and culture lie in its hinterland, on the foothills of mountains and in the everlasting fields of Dalmatian Zagora. Perceiving Dalmatia as only a coast line you perceive France with only Provence, eliminating Bordeaux and Burgundy, Italy without Veneto, Spain without San Sebastian and so on.
The story about Dalmatian hinterland is a story about family, hard work, dedication and love for food and wine. In the manner of the best villages from Burgundy, small family estates all the way through Dalmatian hinterland produce amazing and mysterious wines from indigenous varietals. Wait till you get a sense of whites such as Kujundžuša and Žilavka or amazing red Bordeaux style blends of Cabernet and Merlot with a twist of indigenous varietals such as Trnjak or Vranac. A
fter leaving Split, we will drive into the heart of Dalmatian hinterland, the town of Imotski, specifically the village Proložac where we will be hosted by Grabovac family who have been in the wine business for generations and have owned vineyards for several hundred years. After a brief visit to the family vineyards overlooking the fantastic Blue Lake we will set at the vinery, the winemakers themselves are going to guide you through their methods of winemaking and taste along some of their amazing wines (think barrel samples).
Homemade cheese, bread, prosciutto and oils will round out the experience suited for Greek Gods. Glass of sparkling to cleanse the palate and refresh and we are off to our next hedonistic temple. Krolo family, just outside the town of Trilj, has been in the construction business for decades, but the love for fine wine steered them into a direction of winemaking.
All of their love (a nice portion of hard earned money) is now invested in a small vineyard and vinery on the outskirts of Trilj. During the visit we will meet the winemaking family, taste amazing Zinfandel (Crljenak) and Cab-Merlot blends, take a stroll through the vineyard, get to now traditional Croatian game of “balote” and if you are up for it have a bumpy ride in an old army jeep over the tricky slopes of Strmendolac.
The dinner will be cooked by the winemaker’s wife, and perfectly paired to the flight of wines. Good conversation and company is a given, a genuine experience you will have trouble finding anywhere on the more advertised coastline of Dalmatia.
Hvar Island Wine Tour
The Hvar Island wine tour includes:
- Tasting at Duboković winery (approx. 7 wines, assorted olive oils, cheese, bread, nuts)
- Tasting at Tomić Winery (approx.. 5 wines paired with local delicacies)
- Trained sommelier guide throughout the tour
- Transport on the island, and by ferry from Split and back (by request)
Tour can be done as a day trip from Split or as a day excursion for guests staying on Hvar. Transfer from Split is by ferry, or private speed boat (by request, extra charge).
90 euros per person (from Hvar island)
110 euros per person (from Split)
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The evolution of Zinfandel
Recently, the image of Hvar Island has been tied to celebrities and around the clock parties at Pakleni Otoci. However, the truth about the island lies within its (not so) quiet people, wine and food.
Winemaking on Hvar has been around for about 2000 years, with the Greeks bringing the knowledge of winegrowing while setting up a colony named Pharos (now called Stari Grad, the oldest town in Croatia).
On the heels of the discovery that the most widely planted grape varietal on Hvar Island, Plavac Mali, is actually an offspring of a world famous Zinfandel grape (also traced back to Kastela just outside of Split, where it originated and is actually called Crljenak Kaštelanski) international interest in Hvar wines has exploded.
The Art of Wine tour of Hvar Island is a result of passion and love for the wines and the people of the island. All of the wineries and attractions that are a part of the tour are hand selected and tailored especially for The Art of Wine project needs.
First stop on the tour is a small cellar just outside of Jelsa that belongs to the Duboković family. Ivo, the head winemaker is working as a full time marketing professor while all of his love and free time go into making some of the best Croatian wines. A flight of wines at Duboković winery leaves people speechless, from interesting and unusual whites, huge and powerful reds to sweet and special desert wines you are guaranteed to leave the cellar delighted (and probably a bit tipsy).
Next, we visit the biggest and most successful winemaker on Hvar, Andro Tomić. His state of the art winery and Greek inspired tasting room are a must see and the wine and delicacies pairing prepared by the staff of the winery is one of the most interesting experiences a true wine and food lover can have.