“White Barolo”Timorasso. Tortona. Derthona. Colli Tortonesi.Confused? Read on…

Dubrovnik’s Malvasija Dubrovačka

A bit of history

Malvasija Dubrovačka : not just a variant of the Malvasia (or Malvazia) you think you know.

Malvasija Dubrovačka is a uniquely regional grape, mainly found in Konavle on the southern tip of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, close to Dubrovnik, and was revived twice from the brink of extinction in the last 50 years.
It is pronounced with a clear S sound as in “mal-va-see-ya”

This page will focus on Malvasija and some recommended producers, wine bars and restaurants in and around Dubrovnik.

But first, an overview of Croatian wine with a little history (and geography)

Croatian Wine Overview

  • 2/3 white (mainly Graševina aka Welschriesling)
  • 1/3 red (mainly Plavac Mali)
  • 25% is produced by a conglomerate Agrokor (which includes the wineries Mladina, Vina Belje, Vina Laguna & Vupic)

4 Wine Regions (listed below with their main grape varieties)

  • Istria (NW coast by Slovenia/Italy) – White: Malvazija Istarka, Zlahtina, Red: Teran
  • Uplands (North by Slovenia / Hungary)  – International varieties dominate
  • Slavonia (NE by Hungary/Serbia/Bosnia) – International Varieties dominate
  • Dalmatia (SE coast by Bosnia & Montenegro) – White: Maraština (aka Rukatac, Malvasia Bianca Lunga), Pošip, Grk, Malvasija Dubrovačka Red: Plavac Mali

In Dalmatia, the majority of wines & wineries, and those of most historical interest are found further up the coast on Hvar and surrounding islands, up to 2 hours drive from Dubrovnik city.

There is however a small pocket only 10 mins from Dubrovnik airport called Konavle : a very easy morning trip with minimal time spent driving (see below)

History & key dates

3200 B.C. : Winemaking is believed to have begun in Croatia
390 B.C. : the Greeks arrive, colonise and begin winemaking on the Stari Grad Plain (which has continuously produced wine since)
300s A.D. : the Romans take control and turn things up a notch
1200s (ish) : Venetians and Greeks are trading around the Mediterranean coast, and fragrant sweet wine is all the rage
1500s : Ottomans invade Europe (and Croatia, although Dubrovnik avoided occupation)
1990s : the wine industry is revitalised in post-war in Croatia and private ownership is now possible
2000s : there is a shift in focus to replant vines with more local varieties, and up the quality game
2013 : Croatia joins the EU and benefits from EU subsidies to further invest in their wine industry

Fun Facts:

  • Stari Grad Plain  (UNESCO) has 24 centuries of uninterrupted wine production.
  • Belina Drobna, a Croatian variety is the mother of Chardonnay.
  • Tribidrag (aka Crljenak Kastelanski ) is more commonly known as Zinfandel and is a parent of Plavac Mali.
  • Dubrovnik exported Malvasija to the Ottoman Empire, labelled as ‘medicine’, as Islam prohibited consumption of alcohol.
  • Malvasija
    • has been produced for over 5,000 years.
    • was a favourite wine of the Pharaohs of Egypt, and more recently Cleopatra.
    • was the winner of the world’s first wine competition in 1224.

The Grapes of Dalmatia

The main indigenous grapes to look out for around S Dalmatia are:
Red: Plavac Mali
White: Malvasija Dubrovačka

Other Indigenous grapes to Dalmatia look out for are :
Red: Tribidrag / Crljenak Kastelanski (aka Zinfandel), Babić,  Darnekuša, Dobričić, Lasina, Plavina
White: Maraština (aka Rukatac, Malvasia Bianca Lunga), Grk, Korčula, Kujundzusa, Trbljan (aka Kuc), Pošip, Prč.

Malvasija Dubrovačka

The name “Malvasija” dates back to 12 & 13th century when aromatic wine was imported from the Greek port of “Monemvasia”.

Many white wines around the Mediterranean have taken their name from a variation of this, and as a result, there are different grapes named on variations of “Malvasia / Malvazia / Malvasija / Malvazija” (another corruption of this word is found much further west in Madeira: the Malmsey style of fortified wine)

This sweet, aromatic wine was popular at the time, and helped Dubrovnik negotiate with the Ottomans (annual shipments of wine from Malvasija Dubrovačka was sufficient, along with hefty taxes)

In the 1800s, Croatia was one of the areas of mainland Europe that was not initially affected by phylloxera, which allowed its wine producing sector to grow right up until phylloxera finally arrived and Malvasija Dubrovacka was thought to be extinct

However, in the 1960s, 2 vines were rediscovered, revived and propagated until falling into obscurity again as higher yield, easier to grow grapes were preferred

After the war of the 1990s, Croatia’s wine industry was revitalised with a higher emphasis being put on quality.

A local producer, Karaman (working with friends and rofessors from the University of Zagreb Agricultural Faculty) then revived the grape for the second time.

The Styles

As a very gross generalisation, you can expect to find 3 main wine styles in Dalmatia :

  • Dry, refreshing white wines
  • Med-Full bodied reds from Plavac Mali or international varieites
  • Sweet & semi-sweet whites

The Producers

No results found.


There are many small family wineries in Southern Dalmatia within a close 10-15 minute drive of the airport. A few notable ones being:

CRVIK (“sir-vik”)
Kotari 12, Komaji, 20213, Čilipi, Croatia – map

  • The Crvik family have lived in the Konavle region since the 1500s, grown grapes for centuries, and made wine since 1897
  • They have 2 Malvasijas:
    • Tezoro (“treasure”) – dry white
    • Blasius – an orange, barrel fermented Malvasija
  • They also produce a white blend (Pilgrin), a rosé (Fiora) and a range of reds from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Plavac Mali

Podvor, 20217, Pridvorje, Croatia – map

  • Niko Karaman is responsible for the second revival of Malvasija Dubrovačka with his friends and Professors of the Agricultural Faculty in Zagreb
  • Karaman produces 2 Malvasija, a dry Malvasija and Sweet Malvasija (Prošek)

Dubrovacki Podrumi (“Dubrovnik Cellars”)
Gruda 8, 20215, Gruda, Croatia – map

  • Established in 1877 going private in the 1990s, they are the largest producer in the region
  • Eva Krištof(in photo) is one of Croatia’s few female winemakers and has experience working in wineries in California and New Zealand
  • They have one Malvasija, although they specialise in single variety and red blends from Merlot, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Syrah, Plavac Mali and Zinfandel
  • Look out for their range of bird labels for their premium wines, each bird representing a character of the wine, winemaker or vineyard. In particular Oriolus (singing bird) Syrah, named after Eva who sang while filling the barrels.

The events

(we are not aware of any annual wine events in Dubrovnik since the last Dubrovnik Festiwine in 2020. We will update this section if we do hear of any)

24 Hours in Dubrovnik



hire a car from right opposite the airport and visit a few wineries within 10-15 minutes drive such as Dubrovacki Podrumi, Crvik or Karaman



at one of the local restaurants in Konavle (Điron (jee-ron) Konoba Vinica Monkovic, or Konavoski Dvori)



explore Croatian wines by the glass at Otto Wine Bar, D’Vino or Wine Bar Bacchus



dinner at Lucin where you can order the Malvasija Dubrovacka by Karaman

Restaurants, Wine bars & Wine Shops (non exhaustive)

There is no shortage of wine options in Dubrovnik’s Old Town’s many restaurants, shops and bars.
Prices in shops do tend to be a lot higher than elsewhere in Croatia, perhaps catering for the day trippers from the cruise ships who are short on time and options.
A few highlights that we personally visited and recommend are:

Restaurants & Wine Bars

Lucin Kantun Dubrovnik

4A, Ul. od Sigurate, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia – map
A wonderful restaurant with a great selection of wines, include Karaman Malvasija by the glass

Otto Wine bar

27 Obala Stjepana Radića, 20000, Dubrovnik- map
Located right by the cruise ship port.
A great selection of wines by the glass from all over Croatia, and owner Ante Vlašić is happy to explain the history of the wines and recommend some glasses.

Wine Bar Bacchus

6 Prijeko ul., 20000, Dubrovnik- map
Owned by Matusko Cellars (,
A great casual option for a glass of wine or Croatian cheese / charcuterie platters.
Atmospheric cellar environment inside

D’Vino Wine Bar

4a Palmotićeva ul. 4a, 20000, Dubrovnik – map
D’Vino have perhaps the most extensive selection of wine by the glass in Dubrovnik, and (during the day) seem to cater mainly for the many day trippers passing through, offering platters and tasting flights.
The interior suggests a much more vibrant night scene


UJE Oil Shop

2 Ul. od Puča, 21000, Dubrovnik – map
Taste Croatian Olive Oils, tapenade and jams in the heart of the old city

Dubrovnik Beer Company

15 Obala Ivana Pavla II, 20000, Dubrovnik – map
Try brewed craft beers brewed on the premises, several doors away from Otto Wine Bar by the port at Gruž

Gligora Cheese & Deli

10 Nikole Tesle, 20000, Dubrovnik – map
Taste some cheese from the island of Pag (known for the best cheeses in Croatia)
Located by the port at Gruž

Dubrovnik Airport Duty Free

If luggage is an issue, the duty free at Dubrovnik airport has a wide variety of Dalmatian wines including those from the producers mentioned above.

Recommended books

Cracking Croatian Wine: (Matthew Horkey & Charine Tan)
A great guide to Croatian wines, grapes, regions, wineries and more importantly – pronunciation and help to decipher the wine labels. It goes into much more depth than this modest page