From the beautiful seaside of Istria to the plateaus in the Vipava Valley, Musement looks at seven of the best Slovenian wine regions
When one thinks of Slovenia, the first and possibly only thing that comes to mind is Ljubljana. The capital is surely a place to add to the bucket list, but the country has so many unheard-of places that are worth visiting. Its wine regions being one of them.
Overshadowed by the famous wine regions of France and Italy, Slovenia is an up-and-coming wine producer and popular destination for wine enthusiasts. There is plenty to discover, especially with your palate. Here are seven of the best Slovenian wine regions.
With its hilltop villages and rolling valleys lined with vines, Goriska Brda is worth a trip for its landscapes alone. Add in some fine wine and now you have yourself a must-visit. Located in the westernmost part of the country, this hidden gem is referred to as the Tuscany of Slovenia. The region produces numerous wines and shares a border with Italy, already well-known for its wine regions. The quality of grape production is at an all-time high thanks to its mineral-rich soil. Rebula is a dry white wine that has been cultivated on Slovenian soil since the 13th century. With a crisp taste, that resembles almonds and a fruity aroma, it is perfect to pair with seafood or even to drink as an appetizer. Enjoy a relaxing day trip to the region and enjoy Rebula and other wines common to the region such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot.
Overshadowed by its castles and thermal spas, Dolenjska is the biggest wine-growing region by area in the country. Small vineyard cottages decorate the region and its diverse landscape makes it an attractive spot for tourists. If you aren’t exploring the beautiful fields or relaxing at the spa, it’s more than likely that you are sipping on the local treasure, Cviček . One of the most popular wines of Slovenia, Cviček is made from both red and white grape varieties. This sour wine will surely have your tastebuds dancing. Containing a low alcohol content of only about 8.5%, it is truly one of a kind and a must-try when in Dolenjska.
Is it a coincidence that another region that hugs Italy’s border is also known for its good wine? Just south of Goriska Brda, the Karst region is famously known for its caves and red wine. In fact, the world’s largest show cave and Europe’s oldest show cave can be found here. The region’s dark red soil, or “terra rossa” in Italian, is a clay-like soil that gives the wine a unique, yet full flavor. Teran is the region’s biggest prize, a fiery ruby-red wine produced from Refosco grapes. Besides its fruity wild-berry scent, Teran is known to help your heart, vascular system, and brain. They say a glass of red a day keeps the doctor away. This wine goes hand in hand with meat or Karst prosciutto, a ham specific to the region.
If you’re looking to give your taste buds a treat, then Teranton is for you. Another red wine made from Refosco grapes; the grape juice, skins, and seeds are left to macerate for as long as two years before being barreled. The wine is then left for as long as 4 years to age. After the wine is bottled, it sits for at least another 6 months before it is ready to be served. Quite the process, but worth the wait!
Wine connoisseurs will need to make a stop here when visiting Slovenia. With rolling hills on one side and the Pohorje Mountains on the other, Maribor is set in a stunning location. Home to the world’s oldest vine, Žametovka is a red grape variety that dates back over 400-years and still produces grapes today. Situated along the Drava river, the vine is celebrated in numerous ways each year, including the Old Vine Festival and has its own anthem. Wine roads will transport you from vineyard to vineyard, allowing you to explore this picturesque city. Aromatic whites, including Riesling and Muscatel, are very popular here with their citrusy flavors. The perfect complement to sushi, sashimi, or grilled salmon and other fish.
Old villages and towns are placed sporadically throughout this region, situated between the Mediterranean and the Alps. Known for its bora winds, sunshine, and plateaus, the Vipava Valley is the ideal place for wine growing. Its greenery is a sight to see while its good wine is the drink to enjoy. Many local wineries offer tours and a wide variety of local produce to taste. The two most common wines produced are Zelen and Pinela, both dry whites. Distinctive aromas make Pinela a pleasure to the nose while its exclusivity to the region makes it a treat to one’s palate. Whereas Zelen is a wine that is usually enjoyed on special occasions. Its greenish hue and peachy fragrance will also leave a fresh taste in the mouth of those who drink it.
What’s better than enjoying a refreshing glass of white wine on the beach? Perhaps a glass of a fine red while watching the sunset. Istria is a peninsula surrounded by the Adriatic Sea and is divided with Croatia and Italy. A paradise for those who love the seaside and their vino. The region welcomes many visitors each summer, not only to soak up the sun, but to explore the region’s wineries as well. Both red and whites alike are popular with the locals. The ruby-red Refosco is the specialty of this region and has firmly put Slovenia on the European wine map. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are other local reds that are popular here. When it comes to white wines, Malvasia is the go-to. This white is the perfect companion to the traditional Istrian cuisine: lobster, crabs, shells and other seafood. Its golden-yellow color glistens perfectly in the sunlight.
Not to get confused with the beautiful capital in Israel, Jeruzalem is a region in the northeastern part of Slovenia. Legend has it that wine-making here goes back over 2,400 years, long before the Romans arrived. Lush hills, scenic vineyards and wine roads will rightly lead you to a “heavenly place.” The area isn’t heavily populated so visitors can truly enjoy their experience and the high-quality wine that is produced here. Beli Pinot and Šipon (or Furmint) are the two most famous wines of the region. Šipon can be made into a dry white wine or a sweet dessert wine. The dry white has a smoky and lime and pear-like aroma. These whites will surely leave a taste of freshness in your mouth as you look at the unique panoramic views over the hills of Jeruzalem.