Vineyards cover large tracts of the Pelješac peninsula, starting in Ston and stretching all the way northwest to the outskirts of Orebić. Vineyards slot into the bowls of fertile soil that sit between Pelješac’s interlocking system of mountain ridges, or spread down the steep slopes of the peninsula’s southern coast. Although the white Rukatac grape is cultivated on Pelješac with moderately successful results, it’s the velvety red wine produced by the indigenous Plavac mali vine for which the peninsula is famous. Generally, these reds have a deep colour, and are rich, fruity and full bodied, with lots of tannins and a comparatively high alcohol level (13-15%). The moister soil of the vineyards found slightly inland produce Plavac mali that is lighter and marginally less distinguished than the Plavac mali that originates on the stony southern coast, where arid conditions and salty breezes produce vines that are low in yield but rich in flavour. These south-coast wines are so specific that they were among the first Croatian wines to be accorded an appellation denoting the precise village they’re from, notably Dingač and Postup, the shore-hugging settlements just east of Orebić. Harvesting the vine-clad slopes above Dingač and Postup involves back-breakingly hard work. Some of the vineyards are so steep that grape-pickers have to harness themselves with ropes and almost abseil down to gather the crop.
Wine tourism is increasingly big business in Pelješac and it’s an ideal place to cruise the wineries, sample and buy. An increasing number of top Pelješac wineries such as Korta Katarina and Saints Hills now have visitors’ centres where you can taste wines and buy bottles. The village of Potomje, just inland from Dingač, is full of small family wineries, many of which sell their produce from a small farmhouse shop or a summer-only roadside stall.