Emerging from decades of communist atrophy followed by the horrors of the late 20th century Bosnian wars, Slovenia is now home to some of the most exciting wines in Central Europe. Following the deadening effect of State-owned co-operatives, much of Slovenia’s wine production has returned to small, family-owned operations where individualism and experimentation have taken center stage. Long recognized for its oak trees, which make some of the world’s finest wine barrels, Slovenia is increasingly being recognized for its wines.
I hitch-hiked down the Dalmatian Coast through Croatia during the 1960’s when it was still part of communist Yugoslavia and fell in love with its wines. On the dramatic and beautiful Adriatic coast, facing Italy, Croatia has been producing wines since even before the Romans arrived. I was a young man in the 60’s but I still vividly recall the heady taste of freshly-grilled goat-meat washed down with generous glasses of the local Crljenak Kaštelanski (Zinfandel ) sitting on a moonlight beach beside the wine-dark-sea.
Croatian emigres in the 20th century were very influential in the development of the Californian, Australian and New Zealand wine industries and now, following the end of the Bosnian conflict, they are returning home and promise to make Croatian wine a major player once again on the world stage.