An influential group of Swiss wine enthusiasts visit Hvar’s biggest vineyard in the wind and rain before enjoying a tasting in the rustic cosiness of Konoba Humac.
The more I talk to people, the more I realise that there is a lot more interesting tourism happening on Hvar than one hears about. Little groups of visitors doing speciality things hidden away in the hills that few people come across. There is the Czech fashion model photo workshop in Ivan Dolac at the moment for example, as well as other activities such as yoga, cycling and painting.
After the joyous festivities of the 1612 Renaissance Dinner at the Arsenal last night, I had been planning a quiet night in, catching up on paperwork, but an invitation to meet an influential Swiss wine group – which included perhaps Switzerland’s most influential wine writer, Othmar Staehli – with a visit to the island’s biggest vineyard and dinner in Humac had me heading up to Hotel Hvar in Jelsa at 18:00.
I was met there by my host for the evening, leading Hvar vintner, Antun Plančić, who was ready to explain his major wine project to the visitors, before conducting a tasting over dinner at Humac. After such a splendid day yesterday, the wind and the rain were more than disappointing.
However, the sheer scale and interest of the project meant that the weather was not a hindrance to the group, whose wine clubwas formed more than 30 years ago. Among the enthusiasts were several wine journalists, the most prominent of whom was Staehli. Plančić showed them the project, which spreads over a staggering 261 hectares in total, some 4.7km in length, on top of the island. Some 25 hectares are already under cultivation and they will yield 100 tons of grapes this harvest. To learn more about the largest island vineyard in the Mediterranean (with pictures in the sun), click here.
Next stop was Humac and, after the timewarp of the Arsenal last night, this was another journey back in time, and I understood how welcome warm taverns must have been in olden times as a shelter from the elements. We made a dash in the rain to the restaurant, opening the door to reveal the warmth of rustic hospitatility. There is no electricity in Humac, and the light and warmth were provided by candles and a roaring fire.
I know Jakov better for his Friday afternoon horse-riding with the girls, but this evening he was in his element, preparing one of Dalmatia’s most traditional dishes – the peka. Four pekas in fact, one each of chicken, lamb, veal and octopus.
With a starter of goat’s cheese and salted sardines, the Swiss guests were treated to the wonderful eco-experience that is Humac, savouring three wines from the Plančić range, the oak-aged Ager white, and the Faros Plavac Mali and Faros Reserva. All were extremely well received and notes were scribbled by candlelight and iPhone torch.
Plančić gave an impressive presentation of his wines, his project and the potential of the island’s wine industry as a whole. The Swiss guests, who were polite enough to humour my ailing German, were more than a little impressed. On a seven-day wine tour of Croatia, with a punishing schedule of a different location and two vineyards a day, they said that the evening in Humac was the highlight of the trip so far. Tomorrow Zlatan Otok and then on to Korčula.
A very special evening and a nice insight into Hvar’s businessmen promoting their wares quietly and successfully. I expect there will be many positive words written about Hvar’s wines in the Swiss media shortly.