May is a lovely time of year to explore the Hvar countryside, and we’ve been taking a look at some of the rather scenic vineyards on the island. The vines are neatly clipped and the new growth is sprouting well, with flowers in bud. The Dalmatian coast had a cold snap at the end of April, and many vineyards on the mainland suffered frost damage. From Hvar, Biokovo looked magnificent covered in snow!
Stari Grad Plain
The Stari Grad Plain, also known as the Ager or Chora, is flat agricultural land with a long history of growing grapes. Today’s field structure was originally laid out with stone walls by the ancient Greeks, improved upon by the ancient Romans and tended by generations of islanders ever since. You’ll find several indigenous white varieties here, including Bogdanuša, Kuć, and Prč, plus some Pošip and reds such as Plavac mali, Darnekuša and also a few foreign varieties.
Terraced vineyards, north side
The next level up from the flat plain are the fields around Jelsa, increasingly terraced as the valley rises towards Svirče and on upwards. The terraces get ever more rugged, with large lumps of rock, and narrower steps between the walls. Remarkably, there are even the occasional patches of sandy soil, fairly high up on the mountain. Here and there are valleys hidden away from view – and critically, from the icy bura wind in winter!
South slopes – Ivan Dolac & Sv Nedilja
The south-facing vineyards are the most spectacular, and from here come some of Hvar’s best known wines. Interestingly, they were developed by the villagers on the north side of the mountain, who would have to walk over the top to work the fields. Not for the faint-hearted, you really need a good head for heights to work here – not to mention strong legs!! No automation possible on these slopes.
On the rolling hills along the road into Hvar town is a another set of terraced vineyards and olive groves, known as the Hvarska polja.
Top of the island
One of the most impressive vineyards lies right on top of the island, looking like the vines are planted in rock. Sadly, its production is only potential right now, as funding for it was withdrawn. We can only imagine what wine could have been made from these vines.