This past Sunday I had a pleasure to attend a very special wine pairing lunch at Škaulj wine cellar. This is one of the most important wine cellars of Nadin region of North Dalmatia and is know for a great selection of quality wines.
Nadin region is known for superb fertile land for millennia and settlements from pre historic times are here to prove it. The main vineyards are located in Nadinsko blato – a depression in the fields that gets flooded in the winter months. While the tradition exists in this region for several centuries, the new breed of winemakers are planting mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot…but also local Plavina and Maraština. Among several producers, Škaulj, Vrsaljko, Odžaković…are best known.
The event started by a short presentation by Mr. Šime Škaulj and his son Tomislav. All 9 labels of theirs will be offered in 2018. season and they are also creating an interesting surprises. But more on that once the wines are released.
While the cellar is not much, the entire property does offer a lovely learning experience on local traditions and both Šime and Tomislav talk with passion about their wines.
Here is a great video on their cellar and wines!
The meal was prepared by chef Vrsaljko, a Nadin local with international experience and all meals were paired with Škaulj’s best wines.
The menu was superb and well executed.
The selection of ice cream and sorbet at the end was provided by artisan ice cream place in Zadar called Eve. A MUST when in Zadar!
Overall, the meal was great and we made some new friends. Nadin has a great potential when it comes to wines and wine tourism and true stars of the region are its people!
Of all wines, Cabernet Sauvignon is simply superb and an excellent value at just 120 Kuna! Maraština and Rose were also great but they will be more appropriate with warmer weather. Perfect for hot, summer days!
Many wonderful islands are still “hidden” from the masses of sailing guests enjoying the central Dalmatian archipelago all the way to Dubrovnik. And that is absolutely fine. It is not like these islands don’t get anyone, but that is far from the crowded shores of Hvar, busy bays of Brac or the lines in front of Blue Cave of Biševo.
One of such, less visited pearls is definitely Silba. Beautiful island paradise North West of Zadar and just a short sailing distance from the southern shores of Lošinj.
Silba is an island where one can only think of peace and tranquility when mentioned. There are no cars on the island and there are only 290 inhabitants year round. Summer is, of course, more lively but that is a very short period.
History of the island and its only settlement is quite simple as it was always owned by some of the local noble families from Zadar or Losinj with “independence” bought only in the 1852. The rise of captains and ship owners from Silba started all the way in the 1600s but Napoleon burned down the entire fleet in the early 1800s. The second rise of Silba merchant marine was in the mid 1800s with an impressive fleet of 98 sailing ships. Orebić and Lošinj are more famous as their fleets were larger but the same fate got them all as they did not see the advantages of steamers…
Another terrible disaster was the arrival of Phylloxera and the death of all of Silba’s vineyards. The vineyards were never replanted which is a pity as Silba was home to one very special type of vine that would ripe earlier than any other grape variety on the coast: as early as July.
Today, Silba is best known as an oasis of peace. I had a rare chance to visit this May and enjoyed immensely walking the silent streets, enjoying the genuine tranquility and calmness. Almost a meditation.
Silba is also known for its best known monument – toreta.
It was built by a local captain Marinić who built it so his loved one can watch for his ship when returning. In those days, one would sail for years so the young lady could not wait and married another man. When he returned, he realized the sad truth but he also saw a young daughter of his former love and waited for her to grow up and merry her. They lived a happy life and had nine children!
Silba is also a popular stop for fishermen fishing in this part of the Adriatic for many centuries now.
With tourism getting to all islands and parts of the coastline, Silba seems to be escaping the faith of southern islands and enjoying the more relaxed atmosphere even in the peak season.
But spring is the best time to visit. Very different from anything one can see south of Šibenik, Silba should stay a secret!
This past spring we finally managed to take the famous old road Majstorska cesta leading from Dalmatia to Lika and passing beautiful Tulove grede rock formation.
Tulove grede are one of the most scenic parts of Velebit mountain and, if you ever took the highway from the coast inland, it is the formation just above the Sv Rock Tunnel. But, to get there, one has to take the old road and that is possible just from outside Obrovac town.
The road is wide and, for some part, asphalted but the true adventure starts once you leave the paved road. The macadam part of the road is in very good shape and can be easily traveled with normal cars.
This 41 km long road has been constructed in two phases between 1825 and 1832 to shorten the traveling time between the center of the Monarchy (Wiena) and, then regional capital of Dalmatia, Zadar. This very demanding task was trusted to Josip Kajetan Knežić of Petrinja who was a major in Austrian army and a self taught engineer. Knežić was a fascinating character and left a lasting mark on Croatian architecture and ingeneering with numerous roads, architectural monuments and irrigation works through the region.
I have one bridge to visit and then will write more about him but if you have ever traveled the road from Senj inwards, you have witnessed another Knežić masterpiece and you definitely remember the chapel of Sv Mihovil in Majorija.
Back on the road, we had a lovely ascent from the start of macadam and the beautiful views of Zadar hinterland and islands opened!
The road is simply great and kept in great condition. It is also proclaimed a National heritage so someone will be taking care of it (I hope).
Probably one of the most favorite stops on this road is the church of Sv. Franjo or (St Frances).
The church is now locked and not sure who has the keys as I would really like to get inside some day. Just across the street are the remains of several buildings that served for guards and maintenance back while the road was still in use. Near the church are two monuments and one is dedicated to Francesco Farcasso who died here in 1851 battling 22 bandits. The newer one is from 1862 and dedicated to Ivan Zagorac who froze to death.
The entire area is quite lovely and makes a great stop.
But these are not the only monuments on this road…
This was also a very important communication during the Homeland war in the 90s. Many traces of past combats and still visible and parts of the area were under land mines till 2014. The saddest monument is to one of true heroes of our war.
Velebit was one of the harshest and worst battlefields of our war in the 90s and tombstones of many heroes keep reminding us of their sacrifices.
And few minutes later, we reached the foothill of Tulove grede where there is plenty of space to park cars and start the ascent.
The ascent is easy and the trails are nicely marked. This is a very popular destination for all nature lovers and, especially during weekends, there will be at least a dozen of people.
There are two trails leading to the peak of Tulove Grede. Both are fine and both take you around the HUGE hole in the ground that is, apparently, a cave that collapsed long ago.
Apparently, there is a small water spring at the very bottom of the hole but one needs some 10 meters of rope to reach it.
Our friends took the route above the hole.
Once we were at the peak, because of the kids, we did not go all the way to the top of the rocks but that is another cc 20 minutes along the marked trail and some climbing is required. The rock formation near the peak are fascinating!
And after a short break, we went downhill for a picnic lunch and to continue our adventure all the way to Lika.
This area is known among birdwatchers as home to Alpine cough (Kavka in Croatian; Pyrrhocorax graculus) colony and we saw them flying above us.
They are easily recognized for red legs and longish yellow beak.
On the road to Lika, we saw few motorcycles as well but no cyclists which was surprising as this is one of their favorite routes.
The climb is easy for all generations.
And then it was time to follow the road all the way to beautiful Lika region. As soon as we crossed the “border”, the scenery changed and we drove mostly through the forest.
Once in Lika, you can either turn back to take the same road again or take the highway. Under the watching eye of a Common buzzard we left home.
Majstorska cesta is one of great adventures in Croatia no matter how you want to cross it. It would even be fun walking it and camping overnight somewhere in the wilderness.