Slovenia stretches over 20.273 square kilometres and has over 2.066 million inhabitants and approximately 21,000 ha of vineyard area. Here are 30,000 grape growers – most of whom produce wine for their consumption – and 2,550 winemakers. Annual production of the wine is 0,7 million hectolitres, with a ration 70 % of white wine and only 30% of red wine.
Most planted varieties are Welschriesling, Refosco, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Žametovka. Several indigenous wine varietals are gaining importance in the last few years. They are Teran, Rebula, Pinela, Zelen, Vitovska, Šipon, Malvazija, Klarnica and others. It is said that in Slovenia there is 1 vineyard per 70 inhabitants. While the statistics show Slovenia to be a country with one of the highest wine consumptions in the world, with annual consumption (in 2012) over 43 l of wine per capita, Slovenia is not only about the numbers, statistics and quantity – Slovenian wine growing is more about quality!
As we already wrote in the post Introduction to Slovenia, Slovenia is a very diverse country. It has four different geographical units and four different climates. It has also different history. And this can be observed in the diversity of wine growing and wine styles. When travelling across Slovenia from East to West and the South you will find very different wines. Such a small place and so diverse!
Slovenia is divided into three main wine-growing regions. Those three wine-growing regions are further divided into nine sub-regions.
EAST SLOVENIA – the Podravska Wine Region
The Podravska wine region lies in the northeast of Slovenia and it is the biggest wine-growing region in Slovenia. It combines Slovenian Styria and Prekmurje (OverMura) districts.
The Podravska wine region is famous for its high-quality white and some red wines. Wines of special maturity and the way of harvesting are especially prominent – predicate wines: late harvest, selections, strawberry selections, ice wines and wines of dry grapes selection. The cellars boast excellent archival collections. The oldest wine is from 1917. The wines are distinguished by the great variety of flowers, pleasant aromas and pleasant refreshing acids.
This wine-growing region, which is under the influence of the Pannonian climate, is recognized by the numerous hills covered with vineyards.
In the Podravska wine region, they mostly grow: Rhine Riesling, Laszlo Riesling, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noire, Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir, Blue Franconian, Chipon, Yellow Muscat, Muscat Otonel, Kerner, Traminer, Ranfol, Green Silvanec, Portuguese Portuguese, Sentinel, Zweigelt, Gamay
STYRIA WINE SUB-REGION
Slovenian Styria is one of the main wine-growing regions of Slovenia. It has a 6,050 ha of vineyard area which places it in the first place among all the wine regions in Slovenia. 10, 736 individuals grow grape for themselves and an additional 887 winemakers. With its prevailing continental climate with Sub-Pannonian influences, the area is ideal for vines. Traditionally they grow aromatic and delicate white wine but in recent years more and more reds are planted. The most important grape varieties are Welschriesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay and Furmint /Sipon.
This is the wine region recognized and made famous by its world-class sweet and botrytis wines.
In Maribor, the capital of East Slovenia grows the oldest vine in the world with over 400 years of age. It symbolizes the rich wine culture of Maribor, Styria and Slovenia. Her offspring grow on almost all continents and in many places in Slovenia.
WHAT TO DO IN STYRIA / STAJERSKA?
There are numerous notable producers some of which are: Sanctum, Zlati Gric, Dveri Pax, Gaube, Verus, Kobal Wines, Joannes Protner, Steyer, Puklavec Family, Ptujska klet, Vino Kupljen, Valdhuber, Kogl, Freser and others.
When you visit Styria, you can take your trekking shoes as there are numerous options of walking and hiking between the vineyards, cycling, hiking Pohorje hills, enjoying beautiful small lakes, fly-fishing on the river or the lake, enjoying the spa and visiting beekeepers and beautiful and friendly tourist farms. You can easily stay in Slovenian Styria for a week and you won’t do and see all that this beautiful region offers. Of course – don’t forget on your taste buds 🙂 and visit some of the finest wine cellars.
PREKMURJE WINE SUB-REGION
Prekmurje sub-region is a part of the Podravje wine region and has 523 ha of vineyard area with 260 winemakers. Located in the corner between Austria and Hungary, it has a continental climate with Sub-Pannonian influences which gives great conditions for growing mostly white grape varieties such as Welschriesling, Chardonnay, Riesling, Furmint, Traminer and Muscat. Here we can mention three notable boutique wine cellars Cuk, Marof and Gjerkes.
WHAT TO DO IN PREKMURJE?
Take time and enjoy the beautiful view from the Vinarium observation tower where you have a view over 4 countries. This part of Slovenia offers also superb spa and wellness centre and great culinary experiences. This is a place to relax and enjoy as the time here somehow seem to move slower.
SOUTHEAST of Slovenia – Posavje Wine Region
The Posavje wine region combines 3 wine sub-regions: the Bizeljsko-Sremič, Bela Krajina and Dolenjska wine region. In size, it measures 4.275 ha.
BIZELJSKO-SREMIČ WINE SUB-REGION
Bizeljsko-Sremic is a rather small wine sub-region measures 861 ha of vineyard area with 155 winemakers. The Romans brought the vine to Bizeljsko while the first documents about the wine-growing tradition in Bizeljsko date back at the beginning of the 16th century. Here you will find wine cellars dug in the millions year old sand bedrocks. Locals used to store turnip and vegetables but nowadays they are the excellent natural storage for maturing premium Slovenian wines.
In this continental area are the most important grape varieties Blaufrankish, Welschiresling, Zametovka. The area gives also very nice Gamay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Traminer and others.
Notable boutique wine producers are Istenic, producing sparkling wines and wine cellar Vino Graben and Keltis.
WHAT TO DO IN BIZELJSKO – SREMIC WINE SUB-REGION?
When in Slovenia, do not miss a visit to the “repnice” wine cellar. You can also visit the cultural sights Brežice, Krško and Sevnica, the birthplace of Melania Trump.
DOLENJSKA WINE SUB-REGION
The Dolenjska wine sub-region/ Lower Carniola has 1.549 ha of vineyards and has 405 registered winemakers and 7,380 grape growers. The most important grape varietals are Blaufrankisch, Welschriesling. The wine cellars worth of visiting are Frelih, Mastnak, Kunej, Štemberger and Slapšak also producing sparkling wines.
The local speciality is Cviček PTP. Cviček is considered the crown jewel of the Lower Carniola wine-producing region of Slovenia. It is a unique wine, composed of different red and white grape varietals. The red wine Kolner Blauer and Blue Franconian play a prominent role, and they are finely blended with up to 35% different white grape varietals to give it its distinctive taste. It is distinguished by the characteristic light red colour with a ruby hue and its pleasant fresh fruit aroma resembling berries. With its relatively low alcoholic content of not more than 10% vol. and pleasant acidity it is known as a light and drinkable wine, suitable for any occasion. Cviček is not recognized as a wine due to the low alcohol level and it is mostly consumed locally.
WHAT TO DO IN DOLENJSKA WINE SUB-REGION?
In Dolenjska visit Otočec castle, charming town Kostanjevica na Krki, or enjoy strolling on the hills among the traditional vineyard cottages that you can also rent. Rent a bike and cycle on the empty local roads and just enjoy the beautiful nature. Besides this, you can also enjoy Krka river, have a swim, canoe or SUP board experience before you head to the wine cellar for a glass of wine in the evening.
BELA KRAJINA WINE SUB-REGION
Bela Krajina is Slovenia’s smallest wine district, located along the Slovenian – Croatian border. It has only 366 ha of vineyards and 98 winemakers. The most important grape varieties are Blaufrankisch, Welschriesling, Muscat. It has many small, but good winemakers and two excellent family-run wine cellars: Šturm and Prus. The most recognized wine brand of Bela Krajina is “Metliska crnina” wine. It is a blend of different grape varieties, but the biggest part consists of Blue Franconian and Kolner Blauer, with a small proportion of other red varieties that grow in the area. It is purple in colour and of rich flavour with a pleasant scent of ripe red fruits. The palate is sweet with a slight tartness. It is a wine for everyday occasions.
WHAT TO DO IN BELA KRAJINA WINE SUB-REGION?
The main attraction here is for sure the Kolpa river and activities connected with it. There is also the biggest wine festival Vinska Vigred that is something special to see and experience (a part of it also on Kolpa river). Because this is a kind of remote region, you will find there very nice and warm people, unspoilt nature, hills covered with forests and plenty of nice roads for discovering the area on a bike.
WEST SLOVENIA – Primorska Wine Region
The Primorska wine region lies west of Ljubljana, towards Italy and is further divided into four sub-regions: Brda, Vipava Valley, Karst and Slovenian Istria.
The Primorska wine region has a Mediterranean climate or influence (Vipava valley and Karst) what is felt also in the wines.
VIPAVA VALLEY WINE SUB-REGION
The first sub-region on the way from Ljubljana to Primorska wine region is Vipava valley. Vipava valley is on the junction where the Mediterranean, Alps and the Karst meet. With 2,265 vineyard area and 297 winegrowers (out of them 50 – 60 producers are bottling under their label), Vipava is the biggest wine sub-region in Primorska region and the second biggest in Slovenia.
Vipava valley are typical the frequent strong winds called Bora wind and heavy rainfalls. Vipava valley was until the Tertiary period covered by the Pannonian Sea (and the rest of Slovenia towards the East – nowadays Hungary). Therefore the bedrock mostly consists of limestone and sand, sandstone, marl and clay.
The most important grape varieties are Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvazia Istarska, Ribolla Gialla. Indigenous wine varietals: Zelen, Klarnica, Pinela, Barbera
The most notable producers are Batič, Burja, Tilia, Sutor, Mlečnik, Krapež, Mansus, Sv. Martin, Guerila, JNK, Vipava 1994, Lisjak 1978.
WHAT TO DO IN VIPAVA VALLEY?
You can hike, walk and hike again. For example, Otliško window is a very popular hilltop destination, Rob and others. Visit also a small stone village of Goče, Vipava town, visit beekeepers, cycle from one to another winemaker and just enjoy your time in this beautiful area that gives you so much energy in throughout the year and in all seasons.
KARST / KRAS /CARSO WINE SUB-REGION
Not far away from Vipava valley is another wine sub-region Karst. With only 578 ha of vineyard area and 144 winemakers, it is the smallest sub-region of the Primorska wine region. During the building of Venice, the Karst was facing deforestation as the cut a huge part of the area for the plots that Venice is standing on today. For this region is typical limestone terroir with underground caves and red clay terra rosa soil. The Slovenian associations of the Karst wine region are prosciutto and Teran wine. Later Slovenians will think of Lipica stud farm and Škocjan underground caves.
The winemaking in Karst dates back to the 1st century AD. It is believed that the wine from Karst (today Teran wine) had been also consumed by Julija Augusta, the wife of Roman Emperor Augustus in 1st century AC.
In Karst wine sub-region there are 75% of Refosco vine growing on typical terra rosa soil, from which Teran PTP is made. Teran may be the most typical red Slovenian wine, rich with bivalent iron, with low to moderate alcohol level and typically high acidity levels and tannins.
Another indigenous wine varietal is Vitovska grganja, a white wine. Vitovska is a rare and ancient varietal. The varietal offers an appealing wine with pronounced mineral notes. It is an elegant and attractive wine with a slight taste of almonds and vanilla that fills us with curiosity.
The Most prominent boutique and family-owned winemakers are Renčel – orange wine producer, Štoka, Širca – Kodrič, Lisjak, Čotar, Colja, Štemberger.
WHAT TO DO IN KARST WINE SUB-REGION?
In August there is an annual event taking place “Feast of Teran and Prosciutto“.
With wine tasting consider also a visit of Stanjel hilltop village, a stone craft workshop, visit a brandy producer and don’t forget to just sit, talk to the locals while enjoying local cold cuts and a glass of Teran wine. Don’t hurry, stop, relax and enjoy life. In Karst everything is possible and life seems so perfect.
GORIŠKA BRDA WINE SUB-REGION
Goriška Brda wine sub-region, just north of Vipava valley is the most recognized wine sub-region of Slovenia. Brda is a hilly piece of land where 1/3 of the wine region stretches further to Italy as a Collio wine region.
Brda is a perfect weekend getaway for wine and gastronomy lovers. In Brda, there are no towns, just villages in between vineyards spread all over the hills.
Brda is the home of numerous young and courageous winemakers who put the Slovenian wine on the world wine map with the practice of „low-intervention“ winemaking and innovative marketing. Brda covers 1,802 ha of vineyard area and has 723 wine growers, out of which are 127 winemakers. It has a Mediterranean climate and very good conditions for fruit (cherries, apricot and others) and wine as well as olive growing.
The most important grape variety is for sure the local wine variety Ribolla Fialla, followed by Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignonasse and Pinot Gris.
As written before there are numerous notable wine producers and here are listed just some of them: Marjan Simcic, Edi Simcic, Jakončič, Ščurek, Bjana, Blažič, Kabaj, Klinec, Kristančič, Zanut, Movia, Erzetič, Čarga and local family vineyard estate Klet Brda, that unites 400 families.
The vines in today’s regions of Brda had been widespread already before the Roman invasion, in 100 BC. However, the first classical vineyard as we know it today was planted in 1880.
WHAT TO DO IN GORISKA BRDA WINE SUB-REGION?
This is a place for romance, tranquillity, joy, laughter and wine. You can walk along wine routes, visit the finest winemakers, enjoy local food, visit the small village of Šmartno, Dobrovo. What to say – enjoy nature by walk or by bike and don’t forget about gastronomy!
SLOVENIAN ISTRIA WINE SUB-REGION
Slovenian Istria is the southernmost wine sub-region and the only region with access to the Mediterranean sea. On almost 1900 ha of vineyard area, there are 175 winemakers. The most important wine varieties are red Refosco and white Malvazija Istarska. This typical sub-Mediterranean climate is perfect for Merlot and Syrah as well as other international wine varietals such as Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon ….
Besides wine, olive oil is another important Istrian product.
The notable family-owned wine producers are Santomas, Rodica, Pucer z Vrha, MonteMoro, Steras, Zaro, Rojac, Korenika & Moškon, KlenArt and other boutique wine producers.
WHAT TO DO IN SLOVENIAN ISTRIA?
Enjoy on the Slovenian coast, visit old towns of Koper, Piran, touristic Portorož, walk along Dragonja river, do some hiking, cycling, visit spa with salt therapy and enjoy the smell of the sea. Watch the sun going behind the sea and listen to the seagulls talking. Close your eyes, breath and just enjoy that salty wind – it even feels better with a glass of fine Istrian wine.
TASTE, LOVE, ENJOY SLOVENIA AND ITS WINE!
Enjoy Slovenia, Enjoy Wine, Enjoy Life!