Istria’s Top Vineyard

Istria’s legendary Cattunar Vineyard is an icon amongst all the vineyards that dot this Croatian peninsula. The current owner, Franco, comes from generations of wine makers who have owned the property and managed the production of one of the most important products that hail from the region. On this sunny and hilly land, Cattunar produces nearly 400,000 bottles of consistently excellent wine every year. And, I was their guest at a recent private tasting.

Driving onto the family’s estate is like being in a dream. I felt like pinching myself in an effort to jolt back into reality but, lucky for me, Cattunar was my reality on a gorgeous and warm afternoon. I was met in the driveway by Franco and one of his staff members. They took me around the vineyard and explained the process of making their different award-winning varieties. Cattunar offers: Malvazija, Chardonnay, Merlot, Teran (my favorite), Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat, Cuvee, Senator and Grappa. This is a little easier when you have endless land to cultivate, as this family does. But, the key to being able to produce quality wines of such varying complexities on the same land is the four types of soil they have located on site. The University of Zagreb found that Cattunar’s land hosts gray, black red and white soil – all with different minerals and nutrients needed for their wines’ grapes.

I spent nearly two hours in their beautiful tasting room on-site speaking with Franco and soaking-in the majesty of their land and products. I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of every bottle. If it weren’t for my appointment at another site, I would have taken them up on their offer to enjoy a night at their beautiful little hotel on the property – perfect for those looking for trekking, biking, truffle hunting and, of course, wine, during their holiday. Cattunar is a new favorite of mine in the region, and I cannot wait to return.