Croatian Wine Country | Istria
We simply followed the signs to the nearest winery on our way back from visiting Motovun, curious to see how wine tasting in Istria would differ from Napa or Provence. Our unscientific method brought us down the driveway to Fakin Wines, a two-generation family owned winery. We slowly approached the main building and parked between a tractor and a dusty gray car from the 90s.
We approached a man with a mustache in his sixties, perched on a stool in the shade, leaning on a wine barrel and smoking a cigarette, sipping on a glass of white wine.
“Hello. Are you open for tastings?”
“Hello. Yes, sure. Come on in,” he picked up his glass, put out his cigarette and opened the door directly behind him which led us onto a wine production floor. Terra cotta colored ceramic tiles spread before us and dozens of framed awards covered the walls. About 15 feet back, cases upon cases of wine were stacked. Our host, who we later learned was the owner, asked us what we wanted to taste. An innocent enough question of, “What do you have?” led to a nine-wine flight.
Either from the tastings (which he was doing with us) or the fact that I told him my maiden name was Swoboda, which has Slavic origin and means “freedom”, he got more talkative as we moved through the flight. Over the course of the next 45 minutes or so, Mr. Fakin himself sweetly bragged about his sons Elio and Marko, the wine maker and marketer of the winery, respectively, and told us about how he got into wine. A story that ended up teaching us about Soviet history as much his personal journey.
At the end of the tasting, I had my clear favorite (their dry, white Malvazija), which he gave me one last taste of just to make sure that’s the one I wanted. We bought two bottles for the equivalent of $9 USD each and left to head back to our Airbnb, me a little tipsy (since I had been drinking most of my husband’s pours since he had to drive) and both of us convinced we liked this intimate tasting experience much better than some of the crowded tasting rooms of Napa.
Visiting Croatian Wine Country | Istria
Relatively undiscovered and still defining itself as a tourist destination, Istria is a place to slow down, take a deep breath, and savor your surroundings. A visit here means waking up to a rooster's crow and the occasional truffle hunting dog’s bark among the gentle hum of insects. Even the most popular town in the region, Motovun, feels sleepy in mid June.
Where to Eat in Croatian Wine Country
Konoba Mondo | Motovun
Located in the birthplace of Mario Andretti and visited by Anthony Bourdain, a visit to Konoba Mondo for their delicious (and generously covered) truffle pastas is a must.
What to Do in Croatian Wine Country
GO WINE TASTING | We found this post particularly helpful for choosing which wineries to visit.
EAT TRUFFLES | Think of Istria as your budget truffle destination, and take advantage of this local specialty.
RELAX | The pace of life in Croatia is slower than in the US in general, and this is even more true in Istria. Take advantage. Read a book. Lay out by the pool. Do nothing, and feel good about it.
TAKE A DAY TRIP TO SLOVENIA | There are a number of Slovenian sights nearby that you can experience in a day. We chose to visit the Lipizzaner Stud Farm and loved it.