Supply and demand of wine
Analysis of wine demand in the border regions of Istria
The winery visitors in the Croatian and Slovene parts of Istria were predominantly from Croatia, with Germany and Italy in joint second place. This situation arose due to the significant influence of winery visitors in the Croatian part of Istria. Russia and Slovenia were in joint third place due to the winery visitors in the Slovene part of Istria. Most visitors were between 35 and 44 years of age. Cross-border differences are not pronounced; however, the winery visitors in the Slovene part of Istria are somewhat younger than those in the Croatian part of Istria. Winery visitors are mostly university graduates. Even though there are no significant cross-border differences with regard to education, a large number of winery visitors in the Slovene part of Istria had higher education. The most common income was between EUR 1,000 and 2,000. Cross-border differences are not pronounced regarding income, though a slightly higher number of winery visitors in the Croatian part of Istria had an income below EUR 1,000.
Winery visitors mostly stated that they spend up to EUR 20 a month on wine, with approximately 50% of winery visitors in the Croatian part of Istria spending up to EUR 35. Winery visitors in the Slovene part of Istria mostly spend over EUR 35.
In general, winery visitors mostly prefer dry wines, with semi-dry wines in second place and sparkling wines in third place. Cross-border differences are the greatest when it comes to sparkling wines. Winery visitors in the Croatian part of Istria show a greater preference for this type of wine.
Wine is most often consumed at home and winery visitors in the Croatian part of Istria often drink wine in catering facilities that offer food.
Overall, six main motives for wine consumption in the border regions have been identified: 1) social prestige marker, 2) gastronomic pleasure, 3) maintaining health, 4) added value to the day, 5) family bonding through wine culture and 6) enrichment of one’s spirit. Of all the motives, gastronomic pleasure stands out as the most important. All the other motives are also relatively important however. There are minor cross-border differences regarding motives. Winery visitors in the Slovene part of Istria place more emphasis on the added value to the day that they experience when consuming wine.
Winery visitors predominantly expressed a good understanding of Malvasia as a variety. Most of them had already tasted Istrian Malvasia before visiting a winery. Even though they mostly prefer fresh Malvasia, in this case there are marked differences between winery visitors in the Croatian and Slovene parts of Istria. Winery visitors in the Croatian part of Istria show strong preferences for fresh Malvasia, while winery visitors in the Slovene part of Istria show preferences for other types of Malvasia.
Winery visitors are generally interested in buying products that contain Istrian Malvasia and are also interested in itineraries based on Istrian Malvasia. Out of the four groups of interesting content that the itineraries could include (cultural and historical heritage, natural heritage, gastronomy and wine tasting), the winery visitors are most interested in wine tasting. However, other content is also interesting to them. Winery visitors in the Slovene part of Istria are most interested in the cultural and historical heritage.
The desire to learn something new about wines is the most important motive for visiting a winery, with general fun and socializing in second place. However, this motive is the most important one for winery visitors in the Slovene part of Istria.
Analysis of the wine offer in the border regions of Istria
In the last five years, the vineyard area in Istria has successively expanded as a vineyard region. The trend is especially evident when it comes to indigenous varieties, Istrian Malvasia, Teran and Refosco.
The project research has shown similarities and differences in the production of grapes and wines between the parts of Istria that belong to the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Slovenia.
All winemakers except one from Croatia stated that they make Istrian Malvasia as the type of young, fresh wine that is placed on the market a year after harvest (in general, aged 7-9 months in stainless steel barrels). A third of them make aged Malvasia (in wood or stainless steel) aged from two to twenty years.
The data for Slovenia is similar, with all winemakers making Istrian Malvasia but twice as often in the form of sweet wine or aged wine.
A smaller proportion of winemakers from both sides of the border make Istrian Malvasia ripened in barriques and dessert, sweet and semi-sweet varieties of Malvasia.
All the winemakers provided significant data showing that sales volumes have been increasing and that sales shares are the greatest in the local market (in their own cellars and the surrounding area). Slovene winemakers sell a somewhat larger share of wine in the EU market in relation to Croatia, while the remaining shares in the global, national and regional areas are equal.