Šibenik-Knin County located in the north-central part of Dalmatia and has a staggering 242 islands, two national parks, and the UNESCO-listed Cathedral of St James which is located in its largest city, Šibenik.
The wines of Šibenik’s aren’t as well known and are overshadowed by those of central and southern Dalmatia, however, you’ll find the wines from Šibenik-Knin just as good with some interesting varieties unique to the area, and some of Croatia’s best wine producers.
The most famous grape variety from Sibenik-Knin County is Babić, an indigenous red grape variety that loves growing in the barren rocky soils of Northern Dalmatia. This variety comes from the vineyards of Primošten but is also grown in vineyards north, back towards Šibenik.
Interestingly, the vineyards of Bucavec Veliki, a few kilometers from the town of Primošten are on the UNESCO tentative list for its unique form of cultivation. In Bucavec Veliki the locals, over many generations, have transformed this rocky, inaccessible terrain into agricultural land through extreme human effort without the use of machines. Your average person cannot understand the painstaking effort required to build these vineyards. It’s a site to behold and well worth visiting.
Also, the Bucavec Veliki vineyards have become somewhat of a monument to hardworking peasants and a picture of the vineyards adorns the lobby of the United Nations building in New York.
You cannot talk about the Šibenik-Knin wine region without talking about the Bibich Winery located in Plastovo near Skradin. This winery has led the way for many in the region, taking indigenous grape varieties considered to be of low quality, such as Debit, Lasina and Plavina and creating outstanding wines as well as being one of the first Croatian wineries to export to the US.
In recent times the winery was made famous when it appeared on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”, but they have been paving the way, producing top quality wines and one of Croatia’s best food and wine experienced for a long time. The Bibich winery has become a tourist destination in itself where people flock throughout the season to have a superb food and wine experience, where the Bibich wines are expertly paired with sophisticated cuisine from their restaurant. If you’re in this region and want a food and wine experience of a lifetime, head to Bibich winery and make sure you try the Skradinski Risotto, which takes up to 12 hours to prepare.
The success of Bibich has inspired many other winemakers to forge ahead and re-invent themselves in Plastovo. Here you’ll also find Sladić Wines, a little family run winery producing excellent wines with the indigenous Northern Dalmatian varieties Debit, Lasina, Maraština, and Plavina. Be sure to try them all including their Rose and Cuvee, you won’t be disappointed.
Another great winery worth visiting is Rak, in Dubrava near Šibenik. This winery is the very essence of producing quality over quantity. Thier wine is so good that you’ll find it in many of the top restaurants in Dalmatia. They only grow two indigenous varieties, Babić and Maraština and produce three wines, the two previously mentioned and an Opolo (Rose), which is outstanding. They have a great little winery and offer onsite tastings as well as offer your typical Dalmatian meals.
If visiting wineries is not your thing, but you’d still like to sample some local wines in the comfort of the city, head for Vino & Ino wine bar in the city of Šibenik. This place has a strong focus on local Šibenik-Knin County wines with over 70% of their stock coming from the region. Here you can have their staff walk you through the county wines and provide you everything you need to know about the wines.