Hvar Easter Wine Surprise: Unknown Indigenous Palaruša Grape

Total Croatia News

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April 4, 2018 – Croatia is said to have some 130 indigenous grape varieties. The actual number is not known, possibly because unheard of varieties keep popping out of the woodwork. Meet Palaruša. 

When I started Total Hvar in October 2011, announcing that I would be writing 5-6 blogs about the island every day, many people laughed. What on earth would I wrote about, especially during winter?

Some 9,000 articles later, they have their answer, and while the pace of Total Hvar blogging has reduced considerably in the last couple of years as we have expanded nationally and internationally, this wonderful island continues to throw up new treasures, just when you thought you had discovered all you needed to know. 

One of my favourite chaps in Jelsa is a young winemaker called Teo Huljic. In a wine town where the likes of Andro Tomic and Ivo Dubokovic are national (and international) names, young Teo has been creating quite a wine story of his own in his delightful winery and restaurant in the back streets of the old town of Jelsa. Always keen to experiment and to promote the indigenous grapes of Hvar, his small list of wines have excellent diversity and quality. 


It was here last year that I tasted a local Hvar variety called Mekuja. I had heard of the grape before, but only come across it (and very rarely at that) in blended wines. Teo had managed to find a vineyard near Poljica which gave him enough for (from memory) just 300 litres of pure Mekuja wine last year, the only known production of this wine on Hvar as a single variety. And while he is faithful to the island varieties, he is also keen to experiment with Hvar’s mercurial soil to see how it can shape some of the better known international varieties, such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. He is also the first person to grow Chardonnay on Hvar, and is currently working on a cuvee with oak-aged Chardonnay, Prc and Bogdanusa. 

So when I saw Teo approaching me across the square as I settled down into an Easter Sunday cold one before lunch, I knew he would have something new to show me. And so it proved. Checking I would still be there in half an hour, he then reemerged with two bottles of white, as well as an invitation to visit the winery to find out what was new. 

“My Pošip. And a new one. Palaruša”

Pala what?

Palaruša. Apparently an indigenous Hvar sort and quite rare. Teo had found only enough to produce 70 litres, so here was something precious indeed. AND I would be able to impress my father-in-law over Easter Sunday lunch, himself a Hvar man of the soil and winemaker, with this little-known wine treat.


I was delighted to learn that my father-in-law had not come across Palaruša before, and he was certainly very curious to try. Finally, his foreign son-in-law had brought something interesting… And when I asked various Croatian wine experts later, nobody had heard of the grape variety. Indeed (thanks ZP), it seems the only reference to it online at all is a one-line entry in Vinpedia.

I am not much of a wine drinker these days, despite having been a wine merchant for five years, but I absolutely loved this wine. More importantly, so too did my father-in-law. It was probably the nicest white wine I have had from Hvar, with a hint (at least for me) of a Sauvignon Blanc. 


A more detailed report will follow, as I will be visiting the winery with some wine types to find out more later this week – more to follow, but what a nice little story in an increasingly globalised world of one man preserving the traditions of his locality.

To enjoy the Teo Huljic food and wine experience in true style, take the Hvar Tours Food and Wine Paired Dinner option.


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