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History of Croatian Winemaking

Recent research has shown that the Illyrians living in Dalmatia during the Bronze Age and Iron Age may have grown grapevines. However, the true beginning of grape cultivation and wine production in Croatia relates to the Ancient Greek settlers of 5th Century BC. It is known that high quality wines were being produced on the Dalmatian islands of Vis, Hvar and Korcula. Under the Roman Empire, wine production grew. Wine was exported to other parts of the empire.

As the Croatians arrived and settled the area, they learned from their predecessors, and wine production continued to expand. The arrival of the Ottoman Turks in the 15th Century saw wine production reduced to small scale; with only priests and monks allowed to make wine for their church services. 

This all changed in the 18th century, when much of present-day Croatia came under control of the Habsburg Empire. Wine production flourished through the 19th and 20th centuries. However by the turn of the 20th Century, winemaking in Croatia was hit badly by phylloxera (a microscopic root louse or aphid that attacks grapevines). This led to the destruction of alarge number of vineyards and the collapse of the local economy in many areas. 

Under the Communist regime in Former Republic of Yugoslavia , wine production was mainly centred around large cooperatives. Quantity rather than quality became the main focus. The collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s saw many vineyards and wineries once again destroyed. However, since the mid to late 1990s there has been a shift back to small, independent producers. This has meant that Croatian wines are now competing with the best in the world wine market.


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