The Dingač vine growing region is situated on the slopes along the southern coast of the middle part of the Pelješac peninsula in the south of the Dalmatian coast in Croatia. It stretches from Trstenik to the dry Supina valley (road D. Banda-Orebić). The Dingač vineyard, which descends steeply all the way to the sea, has long been difficult to access for the locals of nearby Potomje, separated by a high hill. .In the past, winegrowers used to come to their vineyards via a steep rock on donkeys. In 1973, a tunnel was broken, which today connects Potomje and Dingač.
Soil characteristics and human impact
The mountain range,the same as the steep to the sea (Dingač) is made of Upper Cretaceous limestones (sporadically there are also dolomite layers). Soil is one of the most important factors influencing the quality of Dingač wine. The soil was formed on pebble detritus deposits that descend steeply towards the sea, on the mother substrate of Quaternary karst form, in an inclination between 10° to 60° degrees.
During the past centuries men cleared all surfaces which looked suitable for agriculture, made terraces in order to protect the soil from erosion and thus made possible cultivating of grape vine. Larger stones were used to build terrace walls (suhozidi), and most of small stone and pebbles was taken outside the boundaries of the future vineyard. The lushness and appearance of Mediterranean wild vegetation during the summer dry months was its main indicator of the value of the soil in a particular location.
In vineyards, scattered on the Dingač steeps, the soil is quite different,in terms of physical and chemical characteristics.
Seen in terms of mechanical composition, the soil is skeletal because it contains round 75% of pebble and small stones (part of which is buried in deeper layers of soil during manual clearing) and round 25% of gravel and finer stone which contains on average round 40% of sand, 30% of dust and 30% of clay.The high content of pebble and smaller stones (in the ground) makes this soil extremely permeable. The small stones and pebble on the surface of the ground are almost white and therefore represent an excellent thermal insulator.
According to its chemical composition, the soil in the Dingač vineyards is extremely rich in potassium, which is one of the most important factors influencing the top quality of Dingač grapes and wine. This soil is moderately rich in humus and nitrogen and low in phosphorus. The reaction of the soil is neutral or mildly alkaline.The content of total carbonates is not high, while there is very little active lime. It has enough calcium, sulfur and boron and lacks magnesium.
It should be emphasized that the analyses done in the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb confirmed that in the vineyard the situation with heavy metals is normal, which means that in the soil, on leaves and in the wine, inappropriate quantities of iron, manganese,chromium, nickel, cadmium and specially lead, zinc and copper were not found.
The Dingač vine growing area has a very mild Mediterranean climate.From the northern cold winds this area is protected by a double mountain range. On the south side of the position, next to the vineyards, is the deep sea which acts as a heat regulator and is the best corrector of climatic conditions. During the winter this is manifested in the warming of the air, and in the summer in the alleviation of high temperatures. In addition, the slope of the terrain, light pebble on the soil surface, significant dry stone walls ( suhozid )in the area, rocky massif above the vineyards, reflection of sunlight from the sea surface and free system of vine cultivation allow maximum use of solar radiation. The moderately dry seasons, in which heavier rains fall during July and August, proved to be particularly good.
Plavac mali or simply Plavac, as it is called on Pelješac, has been a Dalmatian black grape variety since ancient times, widespread on the coast and on the islands of central and southern Dalmatia. Plavac mali is the vine variety of a medium vigour which adapts well to various habitats. “Praise each vine variety,but grow plavac mali” is a folk saying of Pelješac winegrowers that best describes its virtues and popularity. One of its greatest virtues is drought resistance and resistance to most major fungal diseases, especially powdery mildew. It produces wines with a medium to high concentration of alcohol and a medium to low concentration of total acids, with a characteristic varietal aroma and taste. In extremely favorable positions such as the Dingač vineyards, it produces top wines.