In the south of Dalmatia, halfway between Dubrovnik and Split, lies the second largest peninsula in Croatia – the peninsula of Pelješac.
Meandering from town to town, following the winding road on Pelješac, you will get to know the unique lifestyle of this peninsula built upon the blessings of the nature. The savage Dalmatian karst awarded us with most powerful of the Plavac wines here.
The wines of Pelješac
With Plavac giving best results on Pelješac, it is not a surprise that it is cultivated on 90 per cent of the wine-growing hills of Pelješac, one of the largest wine-growing hills in Croatia. With the sun reflecting from the rocks and sea, excellent conditions for accumulation of sugars in grapes are created, especially in famous locations of Dingač, Postup, and Stagnum, locations with beautiful landscapes of wine-making slopes precipitating towards the sea. These southward vineyards give the highest quality red wines in Croatia.
The tradition and the variety of Plavac Mali generated Dingač – the first Croatian wine to be protected by law (in 1961) and the ambassador of the Croatian red wines in the world. The ideal conditions in the Dingač area and the manual work of wine-growers produced the drops of precious liquid of ruby red colour and of harmonious and rich flavour. The wine that used to adorn the tables of the courts of Vienna and Paris is nowadays a medal winner on the largest world wine fairs.
Its younger brother, Postup, is the product of the same indigenous variety of Plavac Mali, and it was the second Croatian wine to be protected by law (in 1967). From the rocky steeps of Postup, not far from Dingač, it compares favourably to the best red wines of the region. Its colour is a dark ruby, with full and harmonious flavour, and a tinge of dryness.
Recommendation: You will best get to know this peninsula and its wines if you take the educational trail „Pelješac vinsko carstvo“ (the wine empire of Pelješac) or the Napoleon’s trail, 61 km long, that passes across the entire Pelješac peninsula and it is one of the trails for active tourism today. Visiting the cellars of Pelješac, their owners might seem to you as self-denying lovers of Dalmatian karst and vine, but some of them are well-known names who made Dalmatian and Croatian wines famous worldwide.
The longest town walls in Europe, oysters, and the cake of Ston
If you are coming to Pelješac by land, the medieval Ston is the first town on the peninsula that you shouldn’t miss. You will be impressed by its stone walls, the longest in Europe, with its 5,5 kilometres. They were built by the Republic of Ragusa in the 14th century to protect the extremely valuable salt pans, the oldest in Europe, and some say, maybe even the oldest in the world. The salt pans are still working today, with no changes in features or production process through centuries. They annually produce about 200 tons of salt.
Recommendation: While you are in Ston, don’t miss tasting mussels and oysters, the most famous delicacy from the clean bay of Malostonski zaljev, that are, alongside wine, the trademarks of Pelješac. There are two more specialties on the peak of the culinary offer of Ston: black risotto with seafood and cuttlefish ink and the cake of Ston, the original dish and one of the trademarks of the cuisine of Ston and its surroundings which clearly reflects the influence of Italian cuisine and of the Mediterranean climate. You may be sure to find these specialties in the famous restaurant of Kapetanska kuća (Captain’s House), built in the house that belonged to the Ston captain, next to the shore, where the fortress captains used to pass.
The town of many captains
Just one hour’s drive from Ston, there is one of the most attractive tourist sights on the Adriatic. Orebić is situated in the south-western part of the Pelješac peninsula, on the foot of the hill of St. Elias (Sv. Ilija), with a view of the town of Korčula, just a 15 minute’s boat ride away. The town got its name by the family of sea captains, the Orebić family, who had rebuilt the citadel here in 1586.
Orebić was always oriented towards the sea and good winds. There is almost no house in this town where at least one family member was a sailor, and the naval tradition is witnessed by the museum of votive paintings of sailors and their families, the captains’ graveyard, and the Maritime Museum.
The town that was once awaiting the boats that greeted the townsmen with their horns, and today the travellers on their vacation, Orebić is just 112 km away from Dubrovnik, and therefore an ideal destination for all those who wish to visit Dubrovnik, but prefer more peaceful places.
Recommendation: If you come to Pelješac, there is one place that you shouldn’t miss. All of those who came by, are always coming back there. In the town of Orebić there is a charming pastry shop with unique atmosphere and a terrace hidden in a shade of a big pine tree, just a few meters from the sea. The chairs and tables made of wrought iron and adorned with mosaics are hand-made, there are old-fashioned little watering cans hanging on the branches in the garden by the terrace, the interior of the pastry shop is decorated with old-fashioned Dalmatian wooden furniture, and children are mingling while drawing on the black wall. It is obvious at first glance that the interior and the exterior of the Croccantino pastry shop are one complete sweet story to which the beautiful experiences of the guests are added. Three main parts of Croccantino’s offer are: specialty coffee, homemade pastries, and natural ice cream. The coffee is made with freshly roasted 100% arabica beans roasted for Croccantino by Lively Roasters Co. in Zagreb. The offer of pastries is very diverse; you will find their traditional hand-made sweeties from Pelješac with the Croatian Island Product certificate – roasted almonds, amaretti, walnut buiscuits, and brittle; lovers of classics will choose their home-made custard slice with lemon and orange zest from Pelješac, and the lovers of new flavours enjoy the creamy creations like the parfait cake made with roasted hazelnuts and with a liquid orange juice heart, tasty tarts, gluten-free and vegan cakes. The ice cream is made by their home recipe and it is completely different from the ice cream you can taste all along the Croatian coast. It is made every day from fresh high-quality ingredients, with no additives, preservatives, artificial flavours, or colours. Even the diabetics will finally be happy here with at least one diabetic ice cream offered every day. With the supreme flavour of coffee, cakes, and ice cream, in Croccantino you will find positive and relaxed atmosphere of people who believe in what they do, create with love, and strive to bring quality to the guests’ tables, day after day, served with a sincere smile and conversation.
The gourmands will grow fond of Pelješac for its excellent shells and divine drops of Dingač and Postup, the hikers and cyclists will enjoy it, but all the wind addicts will truly adore it. In the channel between Pelješac and Korčula the lovers of paragliding, surfers, and sailers found ideal conditions to dance with the wind of maestral whose calling draws them back here each year, and most commonly calls them back to Viganj – the centre of sports activities on Pelješac.
Recommendation: If you can spare a few days on Pelješac, this is a unique opportunity to learn surfing or kiting – the crew from the Liberan or Donkey windsurfing centres will teach you the beginners’ techniques.
A bikers’ paradise
Opposite to Orebić, on the other side of the peninsula, is the town of Trpanj, which you can reach in two ways – by road, driving through the picturesque landscape of Pelješac, or by ferry from Ploče. The lovers of active holiday will fall in love with this tourist town that is one of the oldest places on Pelješac. Built on the antique Gradina hill-fort and with the unique belvedere, you can have a look of Trpanj and its surroundings following one of the bikers’ trails, and you will equally enjoy hiking on one of the four hill trails – Viter, Lozica, Paškalov put, and Miloševica, or one of the educational trails, like the Medicinal Herbs’ Trail and Olive Oil Trail. You will also find relaxing to take a walk by the sea that starts with the town quay in Trpanj, follows the shore, bays, and beaches, and ends above the bay of Blace, well known for its curative muds. If you prefer more intense recreation, follow the road to the bays of Divna and Duba, a 15-kilometer-long way with alternating scenes of gentle and dramatic landscapes, pristine shores and beautiful beaches.
All of this can be summoned in one conclusion – you will enjoy on Pelješac with all your senses. If you haven’t done this already, add Pelješac to your New Year’s resolutions list!