Benvenuti Winery is a family-run winery located in the village of Kaldir in Istria, Croatia. Run by Livio, Albert, and Nikola Benvenuti, this winery is all about family values and tradition, producing wines made primarily from indigenous Istrian grape varieties, such as Malvasia Istriana, Teran, and Muscat.
This guide to why you should visit Benvenuti Winery includes information on the location of the winery, a brief history of Benvenuti Winery, Benvenuti’s wines, awards and accolades won, the on-site Villa Benvenuti accommodation, as well as details of other neighboring Istrian wineries you may wish to include on your wine-tasting trip to the region.
Where is Benvenuti Winery?
The Benvenuti Winery is located in the heart of Istria, in the small village of Kaldir. Kaldir and Motovun have been prime winegrowing regions for centuries, aided by flysch soil comprised of sedimentary rock, white clay, and limestone. The Adriatic Sea, only 20 kilometers away, also supports the grape-growing mesoclimate.
History of Benvenuti Winery
Pier Benvenuti first planted vines here in 1946, but it wasn’t until 2003 that Pier’s son Livio and grandsons Albert and Nikola decided to take their winemaking to a commercial level. With a focus on producing quality-driven wines, it didn’t take long before Benvenuti started winning local and then international wine competitions, with critics praising their fresh Malvazija Istarska.
Today, the estate covers around 20 hectares, largely used to cultivate Malvazija Istarska, Teran, and Muscat Momjanski grapes, while international grape varieties such as Nebbiolo, Merlot, and Tempranillo are harvested for the winery’s Caldierosso red blend.
The Malvasia Istriana grape variety is the leading Istrian grape and one of the most popular indigenous Croatian grapes. This Malvasia wine is full-bodied, harmonious, fresh, mineral-rich, fruit, and very drinkable.
Made using Teran grapes, this fresh rosé wine has aromas of raspberry, vanilla, and citrus – perfect for sunny summer drinking.
Anno Domini Malvazija
This exceptional Malvasia is noted for its minerality, made using high-quality grapes from Benvenuti’s Turkovo vineyards, which are perched at an altitude of 350 meters. The wine is full-bodied and fruity, with aromas of acacia, frangipani, jasmine, crème brûlée, peach, and cotton candy.
Heralded as one of the best Croatian white wines, Anno Domini Malvazija has 15-day maceration and is then aged in Slavonian oak barrels for 24 months. As the wine ages, aromas intensify, with notes of canned peach, honey, and yellow apple, followed by a nutty finish.
Benvenuti Santa Elisabetta
Named for the Santa Elisabetta vineyard from which the wine’s grapes are harvested, this single-vineyard Teran wine is sweet, warm, spicy, and layered, with aromas of walnut and dried fruit. After fermentation, the Santa Elisabetta is aged for 24 months in a mix of smaller French oak and larger Slavonian oak barrels then rested for 18 months in the bottle.
Anno Domini Teran
Made using Teran grapes from Benvenuti’s Španjole vineyards, situated 300 meters above sea level, this wine is fresh, complex, harmonious, and acidic, which means the wine ages gracefully. Aromas are earthy, with flavors of wild cherry and spices. After a 20-day maceration period, the Anno Domini Teran is aged in oak barrels for 24 months.
This red blend combines Teran, Merlot, Nebbiolo, and Tempranillo grapes.
This sweet wine is named for the vineyards which harvest the grapes (75% Malvasia Istriana, 15% Muscat, and 10% Ulovina). The latter, the aromatic Ulovina, is a rare and almost-forgotten indigenous Istrian grape variety. The Corona Grande is made using grapes picked later in the season, which is then dried for two months. The grapes and processes used to result in a wine with rich aromas of honey and raisins.
Muscat San Salvatore
Made using Muscat Momian grapes grown on a micro-location of the San Salvatore vineyards, located 400 meters above sea level, this wine is full-bodied, complex, and sweet. The Muscat San Salvatore is aged in oak barrels for 24 months.
Malvazija San Salvatore
Made using Malvasia Istriana grapes grown at the San Salvatore vineyards, this single-vineyard wine is made from dried grapes, harvested 15 to 30 days later than usual, then left to dry on straw mats for up to six months, followed by fermentation in a steel tank for a week of maceration. Finally, the Malvazija San Salvatore is aged in oak barrels for 18 months.
The character of this Malvasia is rich, sweet, acidic (ideal for aging), and oily to the eye, with aromas of honey, cantaloupe, ginger, macadamia nut, and tangerine.
Benvenuti has won a number of prestigious international awards for winemaking, including recognitions from Vinistra, International Wine Challenge, Belgrade Royal Wine Challenge, Vini Buoni d’Italia, and Decanter. Some of the most noteworthy accolades include:
- International Wine Challenge Gold Medal for the Muscat San Salvatore (2011)
- International Wine Challenge Gold Medal for the Anno Domini Malvasia (2015)
- International Wine Challenge Silver Medal for the Corona Grande (2015)
- Decanter World Wine Awards Silver Medal for the Muscat San Salvatore (2007)
- Decanter World Wine Awards Commendation for the Malvasia Istriana (2009)
- Decanter World Wine Awards Platinum Medal and Best in Category for Croatian Red Wines for the Teran (2013)
The winery also has accommodation on-site in the form of Villa Benvenuti, a 400-square-meter luxury property, renovated in 2014 to merge traditional and modernist décor. The house is fitted with both air-conditioning and heating.
The 200-square-meter villa sleeps up to eight guests, while the 35-square-meter outdoor heated swimming pool is lined with a terrace and al fresco dining/lounge area for entertaining, replete with an outdoor fireplace.
The ground floor is comprised of a fully-equipped kitchen, dining room with a table set for eight, a living room with comfy sofas and a traditional Istrian fireplace, one double en-suite bedroom with a special massage bathtub, as well as a separate toilet and a utility room with a washing machine. On the second floor, there are two double en-suite bedrooms, including one with an additional sofa.
Other Istrian Wineries
Nicknamed “The New Tuscany,” Istria is divided into three wine hills: Western Istria (Zapadna Istra), Central Istria (Centralna Istra), and Eastern Istria (Istočna Istra).
These regions produce fruity, dry white wines, mostly from indigenous grapes such as Malvazija (Malvasia) and Žlahtina. Bold, dry reds are also produced here, commonly Teran (Terrano), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Refošk (Refosco).
Here are a few more wineries in the same area as Benvenuti Winery, less than an hour’s drive away, which you may wish to include on your Istrian wine-tasting itinerary:
- Roxanich Winery, Motovun – Just a five-minute drive from Benvenuti Winery, Roxanich is well-known for traditional and natural wines, but also for trendy orange wines (said to be “The New Rosé”). Orange wines are originally from Georgia, but are now produced in Croatia, as well as Slovenia and Italy. Roxanich is a great place to try orange wines, which feature intense flavors, such as honey, caramel and apricot, though the aftertaste can be sour. Roxanich also produces grape wines, including reds, whites and sparkling varieties. Like Benvenuti, Roxanich Winery has accommodation, so you can stay at the winery overnight.
- Kabola Winery, Buje – This historic winery has been producing wine since 1891 and also produces olive oil. Organic and environmentally-friendly techniques are used to make whites, red, rosé, sweet wines and sparkling wines. The Amphora Malvazija is made using recipes that date back to Roman and Greek traditions, fermenting wine in an amphora clay pot.
- Kozlovic Winery, Buje – This family-run winery has over a century of winemaking heritage. Croatian grapes grown here include Malvazia, Muscat Momiano, Muscat Rose and Teran, though Kozlovic also grows international varieties, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.