Vislander Winery on Vis Island

Vislander Winery on Vis island

The island of Vis is blessed with a climate that is perfect to grow grapes and make wine. Learning about the wine of any destination that I visit is a must! I believe that wine is the window to the soul of a culture. I always leave a vineyard feeling more connected to a destination, and my visit to Vislander Winery on Vis island was no different. Keep reading to learn about the outstanding wines, grappa, limoncello,and gin of Vislander Winery on Vis island.  

♥ Staying on the island of Vis? Read our full Vis Island guide with tips for the best restaurants & airbnbs!

Wine Tasting: Always educational and delicious

I spent a wonderful afternoon at Vislander winery with Marko Vojkovic, owner of Vislander. From the wine, to Croatia‘s history to the way cultures around the world will forever inspire and flow in and out of one another- no topic was off limits! It was such a pleasure to spend the afternoon with Marko and learn more about the winery and the history of the island.

Each varietal, and bottle of wine has a historical significance to the family behind all of it-with the faces of their loved ones forever sketched on the labels. 

Each sketch is a swirling cascade of lines that if you followed it to the center, you’ll not only uncover the inspiration behind the varietal, but the heart and soul of Vislander winery as well.

The History of Vislander Winery on Vis island

As I mentioned in my previous article, Vis was a secret military island for many years. And with times of war, there will always be challenges. But as history has also shown us, time and time again. It is those who stand up to adversity that make their mark.  

During World War II, Marko’s family did what they needed to do to survive. Grandma Franka and Grandpa Jure understood how special the land of Vis was, and the sparkling diamond that was, and still is the Plavac grape. And so they made alliances with the soldiers who occupied their island and traded their Plavac wine for food. 

Family stories and gratitude

My own ancestors were making similar trades nearby in mainland Europe during the war. There is a sense of gratitude that I feel in my heart for my family’s history, and all of the negotiations and bravery that brought me here. Perhaps that is part of why Vislander strikes such a chord with me. Without the bravery and entrepreneurial spirit to see an opportunity and the currency that wine brings, well it’s hard to say what would’ve been.  

Vislander Winery on Vis island: An array of delicious wines

Whether you love a big and bold red, a refreshing white wine with a refreshingly complex personality or an easy drinking rose, Vislander will have you wanting to try everything- and I’m here to tell you that you should. 

The Reds

Vislander makes 4 different red wines that are made from the same grape variety called Plavac, which originates on the island. Plavac grapes are all grown in a sandy soil. However, the Plavac grapes for each of the 4 reds are grown at different positions, or appellations on the island. This gives each of the wines a unique flavor profile.

In short. A Plavac grape grown in one area of the island is going to taste completely different than the same grape that is grown on a different area of the island. Perhaps one gets more sunshine, or is at the top or bottom of a hill, or one of the appellations is seaside. This affects what the final product will taste like, which will never cease to amaze me!

Grandma Franka’s Plavac Mali Milna

The Plavac mali Milna is a powerful red in the name of Grandma Franka. And so in the tradition of deep familial roots of Vislander, her picture is drawn on the label. 

To taste, Grandma Franka’s  Plavac is tannic, with a bit of oakiness, dry fruits- like plum and black currants. There is also a softness to this wine with just enough acidity and sweetness. Marko has a special fondness for this red- as The Milna fields are where he has memories of working in the vineyards as a child.

♥  Did you know? Plavac is pronounced “plah-vahtz”

Dinner on the terrace

I brought Grandma Franka’s Plavac back to my apartment in Komiza to enjoy on my terrace with dinner.  It went perfectly with an array of meats, cheeses, and tomatoes, and it was also excellent on its own.

And as I sipped this beautifully bold red and watched the sunset, I spoke to my own parents via FaceTime about wine, family history, and how we are all connected in this world by the simple joys of life.

The Vugava of Grandma Jelenka

The Vugava is a white wine that makes me giddy with delight!  Like the Plavac, The Vugava grape is native to the island of Vis. It is quite refreshing with a balanced bouquet of fruit, dryness, and acidity.  

» Did you know?  Vugava is pronounced “Voo-gah-vah”

Grandma Jelenka’s Vugava is aged in inox tanks, or stainless steel barrels.  However the Antique Vugava spends some time maturing in oak barrels which adds “discreet notes of roasted nuts.” 

» Click here to read more about Vislander’s red, rose, and sparkling wines- including Grandpa Jure’s award winning Položaj Tihobraće polje Plavac mali.

Vislander Winery on Vis island: Something for everyone

In life, we all have preferences- different flavors of food, or even styles of music that make us the happiest. When it comes to wine, I prefer a white or a sparkling wine on most occasions, or a red when it’s chilly outside. Marko, on the other hand, revealed that he and his family prefer to drink red wine.

Vislander understands that we are all unique in this world- and some don’t like wine at all. And that is ok, because at Vislander, they have many different offerings to make everyone happy! So when you come to the winery, you can do a wine tasting, or you may decide to go on a gin, limoncello, or grappa tasting adventure.  

» Also love going on boats? I went on the best excursion boating around the island of Vis

Vislander Winery on Vis island

Making Limoncello out of Lemons

Along with their wine, Vislander also makes gin, grappa, and limoncello. The zesty lemon flavor of their limoncello had me savoring every sip and asking questions as I love to do, about the process. My Mother makes her own, and I was so curious to learn more so I could recreate this masterpiece.

The Vislander Limoncello process begins within hours of the lemons being picked from their lemon trees. This allows the natural oils of the lemons to be preserved in their limoncello- giving it a flavor that is unique to Vis. If they are not peeled immediately after harvest, the oil of the skin will evaporate- and this special ingredient will be lost.

So now you see I have 2 future goals! To have a lemon tree, and of course- to go back to Vis so I can taste Vislander’s one of a kind limoncello once again.

More Grappa

Historically, people on Vis island have made Grappa, which is a liquor made from grapes. Vislander makes 5 Varieties of Grappa. 9 Herb, Pear, Carob, Oak Barrel, and Green Walnut Grappa. They also believe in Grappa’s health benefits! Click here to read more about why a Grappa a day may keep the Doctor away.

The Gin

Vislander has 3 gin offerings. The first is a citrus gin made from the remarkable lemons on the island along with blueberries and orange peel. The second is a 24 Carob Gin, which is made of Carob, juniper berries, lemon and other herbs. Carob is a typical fruit on the island. It is similar to cocoa, yet many find it to be naturally sweeter and a bit nuttier. 

24 Carob Gin & Tonic

I brought The 24 Carob Gin home with me, and it definitely has a sweetness! I personally enjoy mixing it with the juice of a lemon and tonic over ice. The lemon really brings out the flavor!

The 3rd gin offering is a London dry gin. But London? Why London? I promise that this will make more sense in a moment. 

A quick history lesson

I was surprised to learn that making gin is not a traditional part of Vis island’s history. So why did Vislander start making Gin?  

According to my very fascinating and knowledgeable host, Gin was first developed in Holland as a way of taking mediocre alcohol and improving it with different aromas like herbs, spices, and fruits- including juniper berries.  

In the 1600’s, Gin made its way From Holland to the UK where the British started distilling their own gin.  They made gin a part of their culture, and they continue to be known for it today.

A British Island

There was a time in the 1800s where Vis island was under the rule of the British Empire. Vis naturally has many herbs, spices, and fruits- something the British did not have unless imported to their country.  I can only imagine the British treasured these natural gifts on the island of Vis. Both for their food, but also to make their gin!  

Sir William Hoste London Dry Gin

Vislander’s 3rd, and perhaps most significant Gin offering is a London Dry Gin that pays homage to their British ties, and more specifically, to a pivotal battle during the time that Vis was under British rule.  

In 1811, Napolean’s wars were raging, and Sir William Hoste, the Commander of the British Navy, led his fleet of underdogs to a victory over the French in the Battle of Lissa. This battle was fought, and won,  near the island of Lissa-which is Italian for the Island of Vis.

Embracing History 

And while The Commander’s Gin was “created for complete enjoyment on one of the last paradise islands,” I think it’s safe to say that all of Vislander’s Gins were created to embrace every last corner of their history.  

And while Gin may not be something that folks on the island have been making since the beginning- I personally believe that creating new traditions can be just as special as continuing the old. 

Vislander Winery on Vis island: What to know before you go

Make a reservation first! I did this via email, but you can surely call as well. They have numerous tasting options that you can find on their website. You can visit Vislander solely to taste the wine, gin, grappa, or limoncello. You can also go to enjoy them paired with a tasting menu. Click here to learn more.

The Space

Sitting outside enjoying a Visian Pie with a glass of wine at Vislander was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. It was modern and comfortable, and who doesn’t love to be surrounded by sunshine and vineyards in the middle of the Adriatic Sea?

Vislander: A ferry good idea

Not only was my visit to Vis drawn in the stars long ago, but so was visiting Vislander. When I boarded the ferry from Split, Vislander wines were calling my name from the refreshments counter of the ferry. So even if you can’t make it to the winery, I strongly suggest getting a bottle on the ferry for your long journey, or perhaps take one with you wherever your destination may be.

Where to purchase Vislander Wine

Before I left the winery, I had to do some negotiating with myself. How many bottles did I want? How many did I need, and how many bottles could I actually bring home in my luggage?

You see, Vislander’s products are not found easily in the United States if at all. I  made my case to Marko, who so kindly listened to me go on and on about how much I needed the Vugava, Plavac and Limoncello in my Chicago life. But in the end I completely understand that not everything should be exported around the world. The greatest treasures really are worth traveling for.  

Temperature matters

With that being said, Vislander does ship all around Europe. You can also find Vislander products in wine shops and restaurants in Europe where they know the temperatures of the wine will be controlled, as certain temperatures can have a negative effect. This will ensure that you will enjoy Vislander products exactly as they were intended.  

Vislander:  “Wine for life.” 

I always say that wine is one of life’s simple pleasures. There is so much joy that comes with enjoying the moment with a glass of wine. But while enjoying the wine may be simple- there is an adventure, and a deeper significance in every glass. 

There is so much that happens in between the growing of the grapes and the popping of the cork.  And in the case of Marko and Vislander, where “Wine is life,” it was obvious how much hard work, love, and gratitude goes into that process to ensure that each and every bottle is something to be proud of.

Vislander Winery on Vis island: Final thoughts

So as you plan your trip to Croatia, I hope you make time to visit Vislander Winery on Vis Island!  Vislander is a very special winery, and I am hopeful that I will enjoy their wine again someday. So go!  Make a reservation to do a tasting at Vislander, and don’t forget to end with a glass of Limoncello- it really was the best I’ve ever had. 

READ MORE OF JULIE AND HER ADVENTURES

This article is written by our guest writer, Julie Anne! A passionate explorer and storyteller, she brings us along on her adventures, diving into the food, wine culture and history of each city she visits. Whether globetrotting or exploring her hometown, Julie captures the essence of each location, sharing the story of every place and person she encounters. Get a taste of Julie’s captivating narratives in her articles. We’re certain you’ll enjoy her immersive storytelling as much as we do.

Don’t forget to read the other articles about Vis. Also take a closer look at our favorite restaurants in Vis and the recipe behind Red Buzara and mussels which was one of our favorite dishes. I’ve also written a guide for Vis Island with everything you need to know and how to get there, and here to dive deeper into Vislander Winery to explore all of their yummy wine, limoncello, and gin offerings.

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