Putalj Winery – Split, Croatia

Putalj Winery - Split, Coatia

I spent my final evening in Split with Anton and his wonderful team at his vineyard on the outskirts of the city. From the moment Steve and I were picked up from our meeting point (The Golden Gate) I knew we were in for a treat.

Mutya, Anton’s assistant was there to meet us just after 5pm and we we whisked away to the vineyard in a BMW. There were two other guests on the tour (David and Rachel), so it was very intimate which was rather lovely. We arrived at the vineyard at about 5.30pm after the short drive. The views were stunning. Looking over the city of Split and the sea beyond. The weather was hot, clear and we could see for miles. It was truly breathtaking.

It was at this point that we met Anton. Our host, winemaker and owner of the vineyard. What a charismatic and charming man. He told us about the history of the vineyard that had been in his family for generations. 

The first wine that we tasted was his rosé made with the famous Zinfandel grape that originates from this area of Croatia. A beautifully pink wine that seemed perfect for the setting. We were seated on a purpose built terrace nestled within the vines overlooking the most stunning view. The wine was poured and the bottle left on the table for us to help ourselves. It was at this point I knew that this was no ordinary wine tour and tasting. It was more of a social gathering between new friends over the most delicious fruity and dry ice cold wine. Bread and cheese was provided to nibble on whilst Anton told us a little more about the history of the Zinfandel grapes and the Plavac Mali grapes that he grows for his wine. 

He told us about how most people assume that the Zinfandel grape is from California, US. I too was one of those people. It was back in 2001 that confirmation came from the University of Davis that the DNA of an obscure grape variety from Kastela near Split was in fact the original Zinfandel. The grape variety had been dying out in the region, and had certainly lost out in popularity to a much better known relative in Dalmatia – Plavac Mali. However the Zinfandel connection has changed all that, and the Putalj Winery is one of several which has been busy planting and growing. Thank goodness they have because this wine is delicious!

After sharing a bottle with Steve we took a walk through the vines and tasted the grapes off the vine. It was so peaceful there and I could have spent many an hour up on the hillside enjoying the view and the wine!

After an hour or so it was time to move on to the next stage of the tour. We hopped back into the BMW and Mutya drove us back down the winding roads to the winery and cellar.

The next stage of the tour was in the winery where we had the opportunity to try two young wines. A red Plavac Mali and a red Zinfandel. Both poured straight from the metal casks. I have to say that I was slightly more taken with the Plavac Mali at this point. It was a little sweeter but not sweet. Obviously at this point the wines haven’t been aged in oak barrels. It’s the oak that creates a lot of flavours within the wine. The young Zinfandel to me was drier in taste with more tannins. Anton said that once it has spent time in oak the flavours would become more rounded and we would be given the opportunity to try the finished article next!

We moved from the winery to the cellars next door where tables were laid up ready for us to sample the finished Zinfandel red wine. Alongside the wine there was a platter of wonderful young goats cheese, Croatian prsut (a ham very much like Proscuttio) and a local hard cows milk cheese. Alongside the cheese and ham platter we were given a large basket of bread and Antons own cold pressed olive oil. I can safely say that it was truly the BEST olive oil I have ever tasted. I wanted desperately to bring some home with me but I only came with hand luggage so therefore you can only have up to 100ml of liquids. That meant no wine or oil could be purchased which was devastating for me being a foodie!

Anton was right. The aged Zinfandel was a different wine altogether. It was delicious and very drinkable. Again, a bottle was opened for each couple and left on the table for you to help yourselves. The wine, cheese, ham and olive oil all married so well together. The flavours were perfect. It felt like we were at a dinner party rather than a wine tasting. Conversations were flowing and we were all having a wonderful time.

Once all the wine had been drunk and we had finished eating we were given the opportunity to buy any wine or oil that we wanted. Like I said before I couldn’t due to my liquid allowance in my hand luggage. It was such a shame but our companions David and Rachel purchased a couple of bottles. I was very envious I have to say.

Our evening finished at about 9.30pm after we were driven by Mutya back to central Split. I can’t recommend this tour enough. It was a perfect end to our trip and I would totally recommend contacting Anton at Putalj Winery for a tour if you are ever in the area. The tour costs €60 per person and is well worth the money in my opinion.

Thank you for having us!


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