LONDON TIMES wine expert Jane MacQuitty tips Slovenian wine to "make it's mark this year, with a host of unusual, characterful, native grape varieties". This major British newspaper also recommends Slovenian wine to fill the shelves of British wine merchants & supermarkets, "with lots of cool, aromatic wines".
Did you know that Slovenia has 7 or more completely different wine regions producing completely different wines in completely different growing conditions with completely different grapes? If you didn't know this you are in for a very pleasant surprise when you visit Slovenia!
And some of the wines, for example, Pinella, Zelen, Teran, Black Metlika and Cvicek are protected and completely unique to Slovenia, so they cannot be found anywhere else in the world! Slovenian wine is not easy to get hold of outside Slovenia either. There is a reason for this, it really is true that it tastes so good the locals don't like to let it go!
But don't worry, we will serve you great tasting local Slovenian wines at Lipizzaner Lodge with a choice of bottles from all the different regions around the country. And if you like the wine you try, we have the simple idea to offer you the chance to go directly to the vineyard where that wine comes from and meet the people who made it!
Our Vineyard partners in each wine region are looking forward to your visit and this is what you can expect:
• Taste a large selection of red, white, rose and orange wines from around Slovenia, that you just don't get at home
• A choice of single or multiple stop wine visits in each of Slovenia's wine regions to do wine tasting and have a great day out
• Learn a little about how the wine is made, taste some local food and see some wonderful countryside and viniculture
• Purchase bottles and local products directly at the vineyard
• Order larger quantities of wine, (a crate can be delivered to your door on your return home)
• Join in with the grape picking for a day at harvest time, (in September each year), see more below
Join in each September at Grape Harvest Time!
Our guests have the unique opportunity to go grape picking at one of our partner vineyards. You can work at a vineyard for a day and help to harvest the grapes. You get to pick the grapes alongside experienced workers, have lunch and evening meal with the pickers and take home 2 free bottles of wine... and all this for around €20. (You must be prepared to work for your supper though!)
We will not be in the least bit surprised when some guests, who are either getting married soon, or have a marriage in the family coming up, realise they can buy their entire wedding reception wine list from one of our wine partners here in Slovenia, at a fraction of the cost back home, with a much better choice of wine and at much better quality.
Wine Tasting is All Year Round
Our partner vineyards are open all year round for your visit, there is never a bad time to taste good wine and we have never seen one wine cellar that looks the same as another in Slovenia.
You can easily spend the whole or part of a your day out touring the countrside and visiting our partner vineyards. Whether by car, bike or guided tour, this is also a great way to explore and discover the different regions of Slovenia.
We found it really difficult as tourists to find vineyards that were open when you actually wanted to drop in, despite the large number of "wine road" (vinska cesta), signs that you will see all over the place. So we decided to do something about it and find our own reliable wine partners. We can call them in advance, to ensure you have a great wine visit.
Here below are just some examples of how you could combine a daytrip with a visit to one of our partner vineyards:
Vipava Valley Day Out
You could drive up into the forest above Landol, visit an ancient Roman fortress and then continue along the beautiful mountain ridge road through pretty villages with quite fantastic views. Stop off on the way to hike the 45 mins to the "Okno" (window), which is a 7 metre high rock opening over 1,000 metres up, with stunning views of the vineyard covered Vipava valley below.
Then go down the rocky mountain road passing through some Swiss style mountain tunnels and visit the beautiful valley town of Vipava for coffee or ice cream. And to finish the day, visit our partner vineyard, Jamšek, for amazing views up the valley. Enjoy some delicious home made meats and cheese to accompany your wine tasting with hostess, Erika.
We heard it on the Grapevine..
That Slovenians traditionally called red wine "black" due to the dark red colour. In Socialist times only simple "black" and "white" wines were produced, but in the last 30 years, wine production has exploded into colour and aroma. Experienced, talented and well informed local wine producers use grapes which grow uniquely in Slovenia's diverse micro climates and excellent growing conditions to produce a whole array of new red, white, orange and rose wines. Some of the traditional local reds are still called "Black".
Maribor and the North
A really great day out would be to drive to the North of Slovenia, (still only 90 mins) to explore the stunning Medieval city of Ptuj in the morning. Visit the castle with great views over the old city, market and shops. The castle also has a wonderful museum with costumes from the Ptuj carnival. You can get an explanation of what each costume is about and get a real flavour of what it is like to be at Slovenia's most famous carnival.
You could then choose to stop off in Maribor, Slovenia's second city, (you decide your schedule for the day) or drive the 30 mins or so up close to the Austrian border to visit our partner vineyard at Jakobski Dol. If you fancy it, you can stroll an hour or cycle along the beautiful wine roads there and then do the wine tasting at the Kraner vineyard, with hostess Martina and enjoy some nice local food as well.
Martina will also show you the original cellar under the house built by Monks. There are several places to recommend stopping on your way home for a break or another small visit. The choice is yours, as the motorways are really good, so you could be directly back at the Lodge in 90 mins.
Trip to the Adriatic Coast
Spend the day by the seaside at any of Slovenia's pretty coastal towns, or visit the green hinterland, where prize winning olives grow alongside the vines. Perhaps take a bike ride, joining at several places along the car-free cycle route, which runs on the now closed imperial railway line.
After lunch pop into the very pretty Adriatic coastal town of Izola to visit the "Christmas" family. You can visit their wine shop in the town centre or take a tour of their stunning vineyard and sample their award winning Refošk wine, (a deep red vintage). Helena, your hostess, will also offer you the full range of delicious wines and some yummy snacks.
We heard it on the Grapevine..
That the Refosco grapes used to make the wine in the rocky Karst and Coastal regions are identical, but due to the completely different geological and weather conditions in regions just a few dozen km apart, a dark red Teran wine is produced in the Karst and a more ruby red, fruity Refošk is produced by the coast! Both are excellent company for a plate of prosciutto and cheese.
Mountain Walk and Upper Vipava Valley Wine Tour
Head across into the nearby Vipava valley and park at the foot of the Caven mountain, (1,242m). Take a few hours to walk up and enjoy the incredible view. You then cross the Vipava river and go up a narrow, steep winding road to the Sveti (St) Martin vineyard, high in the hills, on the other side of the Vipava valley, where host, Peter, will offer you high quality wines and a wonderful tour.
This includes a visit to the fantastic cellar and a short walk to the St Martin church at the top of this tiny village, where the views over the valley back to the Caven mountain and the Italian Dolomites are simply breathtaking. St Martin is the patron Saint of wine growers and there is an ornate statue of him in this church.
Italian Foothills and Goriška Brda (Gorica Hills)
Drive the 45 minutes to the western Slovene border town of Nova Gorica and visit the tomb of the last Bourbon king of France, (exiled to Slovenia). Take the winding roads along the stunning Soca river to visit the town of Kobarid and spend some time in the amazing Kobarid War Museum, which presents a fascinating and humble depiction of the horror and sacrifice of the largest ever mountain battle, involving over one million soldiers, from the first world war. There are plenty of other places to choose from along the river.
Once you turn off the river road and head towards Italy, you will be surrounded by vineyards and stunning hillside villages in this pretty corner of Slovenia, where you can often drive in and out of Italy without even noticing! On the way back, drop in at our partners, Ferdinand Vineyard, in the beautiful hills of Goriška, (Goriška Brda) for some wine tasting, good conversation and some other local surprises.
Black Metlika in White Carniola
Take a trip out to the far eastern corner of Slovenia to this traditionally red wine producing region. There are many choices of places for you to visit along the way, but we would recommend doing a full circle trip so you can also see beautiful castles and follow the bottle green Krka river before you reach Metlika. The old town has it's own pretty castle with cosy cafe and fire brigade museum. Just outside town, you can visit our wine partner, Pecaric's.
There you can visit two cellars and combine tasting some lovely Slovenian meats and cheeses with the unique and protected local traditional red wine, called "Black Metlika" and also see how they make 4 varieties of very high quality sparkling wine here, (Slovenian champagne for want of a better word).
Metlika is typical of so many Slovenian towns in that it has such a unique individual atmosphere that you need to pinch yourself to remind you that you are in Slovenia! After the wine tour, your hostess, Polona, can give you directions for an optional 1 or 2 hour walk through a beautiful silver birch forest to their vineyard and back. This region is covered in silver birch trees and these give the region it's name of "White Carniola". On the way home you might visit Novo Mesto, "New Town", for a stop over and a rest by the beautiful Krka river one last time.
You could also combine this wine visit with our "River Krka" tour, which follows this bottle green river along its entire 95km length from source to end. See more about this recommended day trip on our Secret Places to Visit page.
Jerusalem was so called by the returning Crusaders, as the area was so beautiful it reminded them of the beauty of the holy city. This mini region has lush rolling hillsides covered in vines, with scattered villages and endless walking and cycling tracks. We found a special marked hiking route from the nearby tourist office that explores the area in a circle, leaving you thristy enough for some wine tasting afterwards!
A trip to Jerusalem can be combined with so many optional stop offs, but if you haven't seen Slovenia's beautiful oldest town of Ptuj, with castle, then this is our recommended combination for a wonderful day out.
We heard it on the Grapevine..
Orange wine is effectively Rose wine made in reverse and can be produced only every few years when the quality of the grapes and conditions are perfect. It takes a lot of time and care to produce a good orange wine and the skins are left in the process long enough to turn the colour of the wine orange. There are many vineyards, including some of our own wine partners, where you can find out more about orange wine, how it is made and even taste it!
"Wednesday" & "Thursday" Villages
Another mini wine region is close to the Royal city of Celje on the Croatian border with two pretty villages called "Wednesday" (Podšreda) and "Thursday", (Podcetrtek)! This region is famous for it's wine cellars being carved out of soft sandstone to form bunker-like cavities for storing and tasting the wine. If they need more storage space, they just dig another tunnel!
We have found a wonderful vineyard to visit here with the most amazing cellar we have ever seen. The walls are curved and slightly damp with moisture, as tunnel after tunnel winds its way into the sandstone, housing some very delicious local wines indeed, including their "Blue Frankinj", which, of course is red!
This region of Slovenia is also famous for the unique Cvicek wine and is close to Croatia, so you could easily combine try some Cvicek and cross the border to visit ex president Tito's home village, now preserved as a 1920's village theme park, with lots of interesting preserved cottages and tradesmen's houses, or instead, you could pop to Zagreb, Croatia's capital city.