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Kaštelir-Labinci: Tastes of the Istrian Countryside

Updated: Aug 8, 2022

About one hundred and fifty family farms are located in the relatively small municipality of Kaštelir-Labinci in the immediate hinterland of Novigrad. They proudly tell us about it in Natura Camp Karli in Krančići, a real Robinson destination with beautiful wooden houses where guests enjoy the complete natural environment. We gathered in the only part of the camp that provides electricity, in the summer kitchen, to get acquainted with the excellent project of the Municipality and the Tourist Board of Kaštelir Labinci and the Agricultural Association Vitis called "Together in Free Friday Tasting".

In the middle of summer, it is a real blessing to feel the wind that is constantly cooling from the heat in this part of Istria. Such refreshment is offered to all visitors to the camp because somehow the canopy and hedges are most exposed to the wind here, but we preferred to refresh ourselves with Gineta, the original Kaštelir drink. It is produced in a line of drinks called Count's drinks, and the owner Marko Bratović is proud to say that Gineta originates from the Istrian tradition, because once every household, especially in central Istria, made a carbonated drink based on blueberry:

"With Gineta you can experience a real, slightly wild smell and taste of blueberry, so we use only the fruits of blue blueberry from Ćićarija, which proved to be the best. The smell will remind you of a walk through the Istrian forests where pine predominates, while the taste is extremely full and rich. Ideal drink for refreshment, relaxation or socializing.” We were immediately recommended that Gineta is better with a little Teran and they didn't make a mistake! Small snacks with mushrooms and ramsons spread fit deliciously, and there was a great cake here with apples.

Two typical Istrian villages, Kaštelir and Labinci, now form an almost completely connected urban whole surrounded by fields, forests, pastures and olive groves. They are proud to say that once the people of Labinci were bigger than Kaštelir, while today the story of greatness is reversed, but no one here is competing for such advantages. Both places have preserved beautiful rustic architecture with large white churches, although among the historical stories is how the inhabitants came every Sunday to pick up a priest in Motovun, and in return would clean the main square of Motovun.

Throughout the summer months, Kaštelir Labinci invites you every Friday to a free tasting and enjoying in delicious menus at promotional prices in local family farms and restaurants. And we tried it at several oeno-gastronomic corners of this wonderful municipality. It is perfect for enjoying various Istrian flavours and vacationing in famous stone villas. They are close enough to the sea to be able to enjoy the blue landscape without any fuss, and the municipality carries the slogan "Where modern life meets tradition". The land is fertile and abundant, so here you can really find an area created for agriculture. All this is transformed into a breath of the past through old stone courtyards and taverns, with a lot of openness to guests.

Read more about the flavours of Kaštelir-Labinci:

Goran Špehar won 76 medals in five years. His Istarska kapljica (Istrian Drop) is thus the most trophy Istrian brandy house since there are competitions in the Istrian County. Brandy is great and adapted to every taste - from real spirits to sweet liqueurs. It is a real pleasure not only to stay in an old-fashioned distillery and tasting room but also in the fact that these are brandies that are made from whole grapes! Read more: Istarska kapljica - the most successful Istrian brandy

What is Istria without pasta, and what is pasta in Istria without pljukanci? It is very difficult today to come to an Istrian tavern or restaurant that does not serve a whole range of Istrian pasta, and often there are pljukanci among them. The story seems easy. Add a little salt to the flour, pour hot water over it (repeat, hot, not cold because that would make the pljukanci fall apart), knead the dough. Then the small pieces are separated with the fingers and rolled between the palms two to three times, rubbed on a board in spindle spades, and thrown into boiling water. Of course, the exercise makes a master. Read more: OPG Lucija Venier - Homemade Pasta Workshop

Dejan, the fourth generation of winemaking in the Radoš family in Tadini near Kaštelir, creates interesting oenological successes under the watchful eye of his parents. Although Dejan Radoš is today a recognized and professional oenologist, he still inherits the wine heritage from his mother Nadija, which is not so common in Istrian winemaking. And father Silvano carefully monitors all the flavours and aromas from the wine cellar. It all takes place in the beautiful landscape, with an old bread oven that has become so popular with family that they have put it on their wine labels! Read more: Radoš Wines: Four Generations of Winemaking

It is difficult to decide where it is nicer to taste the local products of the Čehić family farm - under the canopy in the stone yard or in the tasting room where the eyes wander through the varied offer and the palate enjoys great flavours! Ana Čehić, the young owner of a family farm who has all the prerequisites for delighting domestic and foreign guests, took us through these wonderful tastes. The family farm was founded with a Malvasia vineyard in 2001 and today has 3.5 hectares of agricultural land, mostly vineyards, olive groves and some orchards and lavender. Read more: OPG Čehić - Tastes of Kaštelir

Along with Istrian food, there is always a salad, preferably seasonal with lots of tomatoes, onions, peppers and all this, of course, is drizzled with good homemade pumpkin oil! What?! Say again?! Where does pumpkin oil on the Istrian table come from? Considering that breaking down prejudices and stereotypes is a part of every gastronomic visit, then pumpkin oil is also a part of the Istrian offer, especially when it is tasted in the family farm of Irvin Kocijančić in Rogovići near Kaštelir. The whole family now uses pumpkin oil in their diet, but they also offer various other pumpkin products, which in Istria is called cuka. It is sold mostly on the doorstep, and during the summer months, it is also sold at stalls in tourist places along the coast. Read more: Istrian Pumpkin Oil of Irvin Kocijančić

In the very heart of Kaštelir, you can enjoy original Kaštelir beers! Castellana craft brewery is a testament to the enthusiasm of a young married couple Tina Kovač and Gabriel de Faveri who joined the growing craft brewing industry in Istria. The advantage of this brewery is that a good part of the ingredients is made on the family farm itself, such as barley. Both Tina and Gabriele are proud of their agricultural work, but also of the renovation of a former tavern full of wine and olive oil, which now houses barrels of beer. The people of Kaštelir have recognized this and are proud of this offer in their place. Read more: Castellana - Istrian Craft Beer

Cossetto winery is located in one of the best agricultural locations in Kaštelir, overlooking the western coast of Istria. It is known to selected wine lovers, especially highly educated winemakers and olive growers who were taught by Melinda Cossetto, an oenologist who produces great wines with her husband Alfredo. Two daughters, Grazia and Denis, joined the tradition of agricultural production and then winemaking and olive growing. In the shade of the wine cellar, we are treated to an exceptional wine tasting! Read more: Cossetto Wines - Worth to Try


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