Isn’t it ironic that when we least expect it, that’s when the magic occurs? Well, that is exactly what happened in the summer of 2017 when I found myself sailing the shimmering, azure waters of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast for a week with friends. It would become the catalyst for my “career revolution”. I just didn’t know it at the time.
Thanks to a serendipitous meeting while sailing with Pale, our Croatian Skipper, I quickly transitioned from wine sales executive (with all the accompanying stress and burnout attached) to Co-Founder and Wine Director of Wind & Wine Croatia – an adventure travel company that provides week-long sailing trips with custom curated winery visits in Croatia.
Our vision was to create a new type of travel platform – combining the best of our talents and expertise in wind and wine. Ultimately, I took all the elements of my sailing experience in Croatia and expanded upon what I loved and improved upon areas I felt could be better, focusing on the needs and preferences of the American traveler. With a mutual goal of serving others -- our clients as well as the local community, we aim to provide guests with an elevated and unparalleled unique wine travel experience.
Imagine yourself sailing (on a yacht or catamaran) as I was, with a group of your friends in a 4-boat flotilla. With a Skipper and Host onboard, you casually make your way along the breathtaking rocky coastline with no expectations other than to slip into “relaxation mode” and engage the senses in a daily, authentic experience. Of course, this experience would include soaking up the summer rays from the comfort of your private sailing yacht as the warm summer breeze fans over you. Or perhaps, donning your wide-brimmed straw hat, you’re finally reading that novel you just never got around to. Leisurely, you sail from one island to another eager to discover the next island’s unique charm.
With a private cove for swimming, you work up an appetite for a Mediterranean lunch featuring the local fare of the day, all of which is served alfresco on the yacht. In the afternoons, you opt to explore the towns by strolling the quaint limestone streets until your eye catches a terrace that is calling you over. As the music hums softly in the background, you’re soon enjoying a glass of local Croatian Pošip white wine while embracing the view overlooking the Adriatic – the lapping waters with yachts maneuvering in and out of port. Imagine hearing languages like French, German and yes, English…but with an accent -- the Brits and Aussies are here, too. Their yachts are parked in close proximity to yours and each night, they are your neighbors.
As you glide into a new marina each day, you’re looking forward to another noteworthy experience of Croatia’s delectable culinary and wine scene. Your vocabulary will grow by the day as you are introduced to the local indigenous grape varieties and wines like Pošip, Plavac Mali, Grk and Prč. You will learn about famous wine growing areas such as Dingač, Postup and Stari Grad. Steeped in history, this place of rustic, Old World charm is on the brink of discovery, breaking free of its traditions to tell a new story. These are exciting times as a new generation of winemakers are impressively carrying the legacy of their families and pushing boundaries with modern technology to craft and create some of the most exciting and exceptional wines today.
For me, however, it is ultimately about the human element and the people dedicating their lives to crafting these wines that is so inspiring – the stories of Croatia’s winemaking pioneers like Andro Tomić Mike Grgić (yes, of Napa Valley fame!) and Luka Krajančić as well as the multi-generational winemaking families and today’s young group of winemakers who are setting new standards of excellence. These custom-curated winery visits along the way are tailored just for you.
While It’s hard to look further than the shimmering azure blue waters, the lure of Croatia lies in the endless opportunities to engage with the locals as you delight the senses from island to island, sunrise to sunset. It really is an extraordinary journey that will change your perspective on what a vacation can be. It did for me. Živjeli! (“Cheers” in Croatian).
If you'd like to embark upon a fabulous sailing trip with Wind and Wine Croatia, we're excited about sending our clients on these incredible journeys. Thanks to Lizann for sharing her story, and for inviting us to book our clients on these fantastic vacations! If you'd like to find out more, just let us know.