It seems that already the Fenicians and Greeks brought grapevines to Istria. The native settlers of that time, the Histri, successfully cultivated this noble plant and mastered wine production. A proof of this is the legend, according to which the Argonauts, famous Greek seafarers in search of the Golden Fleece exclaimed kalavojna, which in a loose translation from Greek means good wine. Where? On the eastern coast of Istria, at the place along the Bay of Raša which even today bears that name.
What has made Istria a synonym for good wine? Man’s hard work, naturally, but first of all natural features that guarantee high-quality grapes. Those are position, soil, climate and relief, since each contributes to a certain extent to the charm of good wine.
There are two dominant types of soil suitable for wine-growing on the Istrian peninsula: red soil (terra rossa) and marly soil or flysh, popularly known as white soil. Experts say that the red soil is ideal for plantations of high-quality red varieties (yielding strongly structured, full-bodied wines) whereas the flysh is ideal for white varieties, mellow wines that retain their freshness along with the fine aroma. Hilly land with gentle slopes, which Istria abounds in, is ideal for wine-growing, especially slopes exposed to the sun, whereas the greater oscillation between day and night temperature contributes to the pronounced intensity of the future wine.
Among the numerous varieties found in this area, the most important is the Istrian white Malvazija. It is found thoughout Istria, making it therefore an inseparable part of this region’s identity. The wine has a pale gold colour, pleasing aroma of locust tree blossom, with a harmonious, delicate freshness and needed structure. Teran is typical of Istria just as well, a wine with an colour ranging from purple to ruby-red, of lively fruit aroma, pronouncedly fresh and less structured. They are followed by red Burgundy, red Hrvatica, and a few varieties that are less famous.
A number of world-known high-quality varieties are also cultivated here like white Pinot, Chardonnay, grey Pinot, red Merlot, Refošk and Cabernet Sauvignon. A special attraction for those fond of good wine are also two muscat varieties of special aroma: Momjan Muscat and Poreč Muscat rose.