Above: The barrel-aging room at Korta Katarina in Orebić

When I first traveled to Croatia in 2004, the wines tended to be innocuous at best. On this most recent visit, they were positively arresting. The quantity-over-quality philosophy of former Yugoslavia has been cast aside in favor of carefully crafted small-production wines, often made from steep terraced vineyards where mechanized farming is impossible. Croatian winemakers now fully exploit the immense potential of the country’s surprisingly diverse terroirs, ranging from cool Slavonia and Plešivica in the north, well-suited to German-style whites and precise sparkling wines, to the Dalmatian Coast in the south, the birthplace of Zinfandel.

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