Hvar was once also a major exporter of wine, with some 5,700 hectares of grapes under cultivation. A punitive tax change in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and a devastating attack of phylloxera on its vines, led to massive emigration, with the result that only 280 hectares of vines are under cultivation today. But the island's winemakers are undergoing something of a renaissance, and nowhere more so than in the heart of the wine country, in the town Jelsa, where two of Croatia's outstanding winemakers welcome you with their contrasting styles.
Trying the wines of Andro Tomic is a Hvar must-do. His grandiose tasting rooms in the cellars of the Bastijana winery are made to the model of the Diocletian's Palace basement itself! Educated in France, but with a resilient passion for his native island, Tomic blends the traditional with the international. Savor his statement wines, such as the excellent Plavac Mali and Sveti Klement Posip, but - do not leave without trying his sweet dessert wine, Hektorovich, which is widely acknowledged as the finest in Croatia.
A short transfer towards the other side of the island brings you to the home and cellar of Ivo Dubokovic, known as Croatia's leading boutique winemaker, whose candle-lit tasting is a cherished experience. Set in his family konoba against a backdrop of oak barrels and other wine accessories, Dubokovic assortment is one of the most personal and thought-provoking in the country.
After a busy morning of wine appreciation, enjoy a traditional grilled lunch and olive oil tasting on a hilltop, against the picture perfect background of the azure Adriatic and UNESCO Stari Grad Plain, a perfect reminder of the ethereal beauty of Hvar and its longstanding tradition of both wine and olives.