Denis Ivoševič opens IWINETC Croatia with truffles, olive oil prosciutto & wine!

The 2013 International Wine Tourism Conference got off to a great start this morning with Anthony Swift of Wine Pleasures welcoming attendees followed by the Plenary Session led by Denis Ivoševič from Croatia’s Istria Tourist Board. Croatia has become a wine and culinary destination. Denis pointed out the differences between pre-1990 and post-1995.

Before 1990, Croatia was very isolated and fresh from Communist rule. The country was unspoiled, unbuilt and was known mostly for its seaside camping. Since 1995, the Tourism Board got involved and today Croatia is known for gourmet tourism and last year saw 3.2 million visitors.

With wineries, cooking classes and gourmet packages, Croatia is definitely on the gourmand’s map. The country boasts 500 restaurants and 200 taverns today. Major changes have taken place over the past 25 years resulting in seven wine roads, 120 wine producers, 500 sommeliers and 155,000 wine country visitors.

They’re not casual tourists. They come in small groups, averaging more than two hours per winery visit and they are wine buyers. Croatia now produces more than seven types of Malvazija and they have increased the number of reds and Moscatos, too.

Not only is the nation known for wine and food, there are seven olive oil routes as well with 60,000 visitors coming for the oil alone with 145 producers. It’s ranked the second best olive oil producing region in the world.

Like truffles? Croatia has 2,500 licensed truffle hunters, 160 truffle sommeliers and it is the only place in the world that grows both white and black truffles. The Guinness Book of World Records heaviest white truffle was found in Croatia at 1.31 kilograms.

There are also 200 Prosciutto producers.

95% of wine and culinary visitors are from a foreign land. Wineries ask that you make reservations in advance so they can provide an exceptional experience for you.