We continue our adventure with Eric and Michael in Croatia at Suha Punta winery. Thank you for following along thus far!
As guide books and Google searches are keen to remind you, George Bernard Shaw wrote about the staggering number of rocky islands off the Croatian coast as “On the last Day of Creation God wished to crown his work and he created Kornati out of tears, stars and breath.” This may be true for the Kornati Islands, but when you see the rocky vineyards just south on the mainland in Bucavac, it looks like God lost a bet.
Even as you drive towards to the nearest town of Primošten, there are just piles of rocks and old rock walls coating the hillsides. Topsoil doesn’t seem to apply, there is little to no tree cover, and the “Bora” and “Jugo” winds relentlessly pummel the area.
Growing grapes here at first glance seems like losing a bet as well. Not surprisingly, this is Croatia’s smallest appellation and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since it has been under vine since the 8th Century B.C. Illyrians. When you see these vineyards for the first time, it’s less about: how is this possible? But rather: why would anyone ever subject him or herself to it in the first place? In order to battle the overbearing winds, the impossibly rocky soil is broken up and used to form “Vlačica,” or small 6-meter square rock wall boxes to protect the vines. When a whole row of these is formed, they are called a “Tirada.”
Seeing these Tirada climb up and down to the Adriatic is a testament to our drive to ferment grapes. Old vine arms are held up by carefully placed rocks, no green harvesting is necessary, and the cool night air keeps acidity remarkably high.
Leo Gracin and his Suha Punta Winery are championing and evangelizing this place and the Babić grape indigenous to the area. Nothing makes sense at first, but all of sudden you are drinking pungent red wine with shellfish; it’s refreshing, and it’s a wine built to age.
This is a place designed to challenge the mainstream paradigms of wine and truly taste something that cannot be recreated elsewhere. It is also delicious.
Learn more about Suha Punta and its wines here.