Divina Vina: Meet the Only Croatian Winemaker in Split

Total Croatia News

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June 18, 2019 – There were a number of fascinating characters at Festa Days on the Kornati island of Zut this weekend – next up, the only winemaker in Split. Meet Divina Vina.

There are some events in Croatia that have so much positive energy and fabulously interesting people that they become an essential addition to the TCN calendar. 

Festa Days on Zut is one such occasion. 

The culinary masterpiece started last year as a way for Restaurant Festa to celebrate its incredible 25-year story and success. Opened in the middle of the Homeland War on an uninhabited island with no water, electricity or ferry, one could easily question the sanity of the brave and determined owners. 25 years later, last September, no less than five international Master Chefs, accompanied by five of Croatia’s top chefs, put on quite a show at the inaugural Festa Days, which you can read about here

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More on this year’s event coming shortly, but I am still trying to process the number of incredible stories heard and characters met in the 24 hours I spent on Zut this year. We have already done the story of the Zut entrepreneur who decided to open a shop on the island, despite the fact that there are no permanent residents on the island. His business is booming and a wonderful story of how thinking outside the box in modern-day Croatia can bring great results. 

But did you know about the only winemaker in Split? An atomic winemaker called Ivan Dragicevic who produces 12,000 bottles a year of truly excellent wines in the basement of a 12-story Split apartment block. Yes, you read that right. 


(The vineyards of DIngac)

My first contact with the man behind Divina Vina was on about course number 5 of the excellent Festa 10-course special. Ivan was pouring a rather excellent Posip from Korcula into our glasses, from the village of Cara, home of Posip. I asked him how the Posips of Cara compared to nearby Smokvica, and we started to have a nice chat about the wines of the island of Marco Polo. I assumed that he was one of the Korculan winemakers I had not yet come across until I was having a drink with another fascinating character on Zut, who was a lot more informed than me.

“Have you met the only winemaker in Split yet?”  

And so we wandered over to check out the excellent food and wine tastings during the second afternoon of Festa Days, where last night’s Korculan Posip winemaker turned into the only winemaker in Split. It is a lovely story. 

Although he was born in Split, Ivan’s roots are from the village of Vrgorac in inland Dalmatia – not downtown Vrgorac but up in the hills. Vrgorac is famous for four things as far as I have been able to ascertain so far in my time in Croatia: it has the best strawberries in the country; it is the birthplace of celebrated poet Tin Ujevic, it has the only festival in the world that celebrates ‘bikla’ – an unusual beverage which combines red wine and goat milk – the Vrgorac biklijada remains on my bucket list; and it was the location for an incredible slacklining stunt as a promo ad for Volvo Trucks – see the video below.


But in the coming years, Vrgorac could become known for another thing – the origins of the only winemaker in Split. 

Meet Ivan with roots from Upper Vrgorac. Throughout his formative years, he helped out in the family vineyards, which started a passion for wine. Despite pursuing an education and career as a mechanical engineer, he tried where he could to learn more about the art of making wine through online videos and similar methods.

He was a very good student. 


And after some time, he decided to pursue his dreams. What if he could purchase high-quality grapes from excellent locations in his beloved Dalmatia and then turn them into quality wine in the basement of his apartment block? A crazy idea to many perhaps, but that is exactly what he has done. A fully working 200m2 winery in residential Split with 5 REALLY exciting wines. 

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The concept is simple. Buy the very best grapes from the very best Dalmatian locations, then use your knowledge to turn them into excellent wines. 

I loved the wines I tasted, plus the simplicity of the approach. There are two wines from Korcula, a classic Posip and an orange variation; a powerful Dingac and fruity Plavac rose from Peljesac, and a meaty Babic from near Primosten. Total production is about 12,000 bottles. 

Ambitions for expansion are limited – perhaps to increase production to 25,000 bottles, with the addition of one more Dalmatian grape variety. Divina Vina does not offer tastings to the public, but they do exist by personal invitation. The only place I have come across where you can taste them so far is at Paradox Wine and Cheese Bar in Split. I heartily recommend you give the wines a try.

You can follow Divina Vina on Facebook.  


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