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Indigenous Croatian grape variety makes comeback in vineyards

Privlačka Bilina


Croatia is known for its numerous indigenous grape varieties, many of which might have faded into obscurity if not for the dedication of viticulturists and experts.

One such variety, Privlačka Bilina from the Zadar region, is making a comeback.

This revival is the result of a project initiated a decade ago between the Municipality of Privlaka and the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Zagreb.

Return of Privlačka Bilina

Privlačka Bilina, a nearly forgotten grape variety from the Zadar region, is being reintroduced to vineyards. Wines from this grape will soon hit the market, thanks to a project started ten years ago by the Municipality of Privlaka and the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Agriculture.

Young viticulturist Tome Šarić has committed himself to the cultivation and nurturing of this grape variety.

“In collaboration with the municipality and the Faculty of Agriculture, we identified this indigenous variety, which is quite similar to Maraština but genetically unique. It’s a local heritage, and it would have been a shame not to utilise it,” he told HRT.

He has planted 950 vines of Privlačka Bilina out of a total of 3,000.

Reviving a Forgotten Heritage

The interest in cultivating this neglected variety from overgrown Dalmatian vineyards stems from its historical planting as a mixed crop within vineyards. “Privlačka Bilina was traditionally planted as part of a mixed vineyard.



Through our project with the Faculty of Agriculture and Professor Maletić, we identified this grape in old vineyards and used cuttings from these ancient vines to create new seedlings,” explained Tome.

Marko Glavan, involved in the project from the beginning, planted the first seedlings of local grape varieties 13 years ago.

“In 2011, I planted my first vineyard. The idea to revive our old variety, Bilina, came up when people from the faculty visited. They offered 300 seedlings for planting. No one else in Privlaka took up the offer, so I did,” Marko told HRT.

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Challenges and Successes

The revival process was not without its challenges. “We planted the vineyard, but after three years, we discovered a mistake in the nursery; they had given us Maraština instead of Bilina. During those three years, I prepared wild vines from old vineyards and grafted Privlačka Bilina onto them,” Marko explains.

Despite its modest yield, Privlačka Bilina has significant potential. “It produces small, specific clusters. The sugar content is high, but the acidity is quite low,” says Marko. The wine produced from this indigenous variety is of premium quality, which is encouraging more locals to cultivate it.

Glass of white wine


Future Potential

Wines made from indigenous varieties have increasing potential in the domestic market. “Indigenous varieties were forgotten, but they are coming back into trend. This is a great story, and we should all promote our local heritage,” emphasises Tome. Marko adds, “We need better support through restaurants and tourism.”

Vineyards with traditional grape varieties offer a winning combination for viticulturists, producers, and tourists eager to taste local products.


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