Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Hvar Island: Jet-Set Sophistication

                                    Hvar town & seascape as viewed by its hilltop fortress

Last week Croatia's island of olives, Brač, was featured.  Today we travel to the “lifestyles of the rich & famous”  Hvar, the second island on Wine-Knows’ private yacht itinerary this September.   While Brac’s economy is based on olive oil, fishing, sailing and wine, its luxurious neighbor Hvar receives the majority of its revenue from upmarket tourism:  mega Euro yachts bring celebrities such as  Bill Gates, Tom Hanks, Georgio Armani, U2’s Bono, and even Beyonce.

          Look carefully behind tourist sunglasses & you may find Tom Cruise or Ellen DeGeneres

Hvar ("huh war") is considered one of the Croatia’s prettiest and the island has always attracted an elite group of visitors.  In the 1930’s Wallis Simpson and the former King of England vacationed here.  In the 1960’s it was Jackie Onassis and Orson Wells.  All arrive by private yacht and their preferred harbor is the island’s namesake town, Hvar.   A stroll down Hvar town’s port is like a walk down a maritime Rodeo Drive.  Bazillon Euro yachts with helicopter pads, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, outdoor fire-pits and indoor fireplaces, line the photo-op quay and mix with simple but colorful local fishing boats.

                                Diners are in for a terrific bonus:  Hvar makes good wine!          

Regardless, if you arrive by a private yacht or by the jam-packed public ferry, the town of Hvar is an alluring little jewel-box.   Travelers are greeted by a mesmerizing panorama: a delightful small harbor with a gorgeous promenade, palm trees and bougainvillea, handsome stone buildings topped with bright red tile roofs, and imposing 13th century town walls.   The cherry on top is the town’s iconic 16th century hilltop fortress.  A twenty-minute uphill walk is a must-do for fit visitors as the sweeping views from the fortress are breathtaking.

                                  Don't miss the Loggia, Clock Tower & hilltop fortress

Other not-to-miss sites in Hvar town are the Venetian Loggia and Clock Tower.  Built in the 13th century, the Loggia is a striking Renaissance structure. Beside it sits a 19th century Clock Tower.   Both of these edifices are now part of the Hotel Palace, a 5 star property belongs to the Leading Hotels of the World  group. Nearby is the town’s pretty main square, dominated by St. Stephens Cathedral.  Side streets off the square hide some cozy cafes and small art galleries, as well as a sprinkling of upmarket boutiques and souvenir shops.

But wait!  There's more to Hvar.  The island has been recognized by the United Nations and awarded with a World Heritage designation for its contribution to international agriculture.  The ancient Greek system of using geometrics to divide vineyards into smaller parcels, stone walls to separate the plots, strategically placed small stone huts, and the very first rainwater recovery system, was deemed by the UN to be of “Outstanding Universal Value.”

There are one or two spaces left on the September 2-9, 2023 private yacht.  For detailed information on the private yacht that Wine-Knows has leased, check out:


Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Croatia's "Olive Island"

                                          Brač is the third largest island in the Adriatic Sea

With more than a million olive trees, an Olive Oil Museum, the Olive Harvest Championship, the very first Olive Oil Cooperative in Croatia, and a three mile Olive Trail for tourists that passes through centuries old olive groves, there’s no wonder why the Croatian island of Brač (rhymes with watch) is appropriately named “the olive island.”  Located midway along the country’s 1,000 mile coastline, the island is 10 miles from the mainland city of Split. While olives are grown in many parts of Croatia, Brač is the nation’s largest olive grove.

                                  Centuries old wild trees & cultivated olive farms dot the island

It is believed that the ancient Greeks brought the first olive trees to the island.  Up until the 16th century, however, there were no cultivated olive farms.  Instead, trees grew wild.  Recognizing the valuable commodity, the Venetian rulers passed laws in the 17th century to encourage planting of olive trees.  They also instituted edicts to protect the island’s olives:  anyone found harming a tree was banned from the island for ten years.  By the 18th century, olive oil had become big business on Brač. 

                     Wine-Knows will tour an olive oil producer on their yacht trip in September

Brač’s olive oils are world-class.  The island’s unique geological and climatic conditions, in addition to hundreds of years of skills acquired by Brač’s olive growers, contribute to the quality of the oils produced.  Also, an olive variety only on Brač, oblica, further contributes to creation of the island’s distinctive oils.

                           An ancient olive press in the local museum shows how oil was made

Recently, olive oil from Brač was granted protection by the E.U.  This means that only olive oil made on the island of Brač can be called Brač.  Furthermore,  the extra virgin oil must contain a minimum of 80% of Brač’s indigenous olive variety oblica.   All bottles of the island’s oil display a special label showing its EU protected status. This label guarantees the consumer that this is the real-deal Brač oil, and not some knock-off from Algeria.

                       The EU label guarantees the authenticity of the product to the consumer

This September Wine-Knows will visit the island of Brač for an olive tasting.  The private yacht that Wine-Knows has leased has one last cabin for one or two persons available.  For more information about this Croatian yacht trip, consult our website,


Friday, May 5, 2023

Sibenik, Croatia---a UNESCO Charmer

           Join Wine-Knows in September on their private yacht charter along the Croatian coastline

Only five cities around the globe have two UNESCO World Heritage monuments.  Sibenik is one of them.   The United Nations grants this special status to sites with significant cultural, historical or scientific importance.   Places such as the Great Barrier Reef, Acropolis, Taj Mahal, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Westminster Abbey, and our own country’s Grand Canyon and Yosemite are UNESCO World Heritage sites.  The fact that the small town of Sibenik has two spots on the list of world treasures is extraordinary.

                                 Backstreets create ja perfect stage for the movie industry

Sibenik is also the oldest town in Croatia.  Tossed back and forth between the Venetian Republic, the Byzantine Empire, and the Austrian-Hungarian Dynasty, the town is a medieval treasure trove for architecture.  It’s no wonder that Game of Thrones chose Sibenik for filming as its labyrinth alleyways make for picture-perfect Hollywood sets of Gothic, Byzantine and Renaissance splendor.

                               Invaders had to sail past this Fortress to enter  Sibenik's bay

The St. Nicolas Fortress is one of the coveted UNESCO sites.   Located on a small island protecting the entrance to Sibenik’s bay, this fortress is one of the best preserved on the Dalmatian coastline.  The Venetians built St. Nicolas in the 16th century to fend off maritime attacks by the Turks.  Shaped like an arrow, with a seemingly impenetrable exterior protected by 32 cannons, the fortress was designed to send a “don’t mess with me” vibe.

                         Wine-Knows will have a private tour of this UNESCO masterpiece

The Cathedral of St. James is the other UNESCO gem.   The church was initially conceived to be a simple one, however, several successive Italian architects over a period spanning more than 100 years turned the building into something far from simplistic.  The end result was a perfect fusion of Gothic and Renaissance.

Wine-Knows will visit Sibenik on this September’s private yacht tour of the Croatian coastline.  There are still one or two spaces left on the September 2-9 week (the week of 9-16 is old out with a waiting list).