Did you know that the oldest grapevine in the world is located in Slovenia, in the city center of Maribor?
Following the scientific researches, it is over 400 years old, still bearing grape.
It survived the city invaders, medieval fires, World Wars, even the Phylloxera disease.
The wine from this indigenous Žametna Črnina grapevine is dedicated to protocol gifts. It is not possible to buy it, just the guys like Brad Pitt and the Pope can get a traditional 0,25dcl bottle of it.
Every year not more than 100 samples are bottled. By this, the oldest grapevine's wine is one of the rarest liquids in the world.
The scions are growing on all five continents, under special care.
It has its own guardian, chosen among the most knowledgeable oenologists in Slovenia.
It is the only grapevine in the world with its own anthem.
Its harvest is one of the main events in Slovenia. A huge celebration, including the election of the new wine queen, is the crown of the wine season in the region.
Wine regions and wines in Slovenia
Wine experts divided Slovenia into 3 wine-growing regions, which are subdivided into 14 districts.
Each of them is specific and different from the others.
Today you can taste around 45 varieties here, among them the international ones as well as the indigenous ones.
An ideal way to experience them is wine roads.
Since the year 1993, the 900 kilometers (about 560 miles) wine roads web has been created, connecting the notable wineries and winemaking villages as well as the wine-growing regions and districts around Slovenia.
Podravje wine-growing region
This largest wine-growing area in Slovenia covers an area of 9650 hectares (about 24000 acres).
Some of the districts and subdistricts are considered to be among the 4% best world wine-growing locations.
The region is subdivided into 7 districts.
is a hilly area, extending from south-east of Maribor down to the Croatian border.
Because of steep slopes and consequently lack of sun for most of the day on certain parts, vineyards are located at the top of the hills to be constantly exposed to the sun.
White, easy-drinkable wines dominate the district.
Most of the wine is bottled in the Ptujska Klet winery. One of the wines they make is the famous blend Haložan.
This is the first liter-bottle wine to win the gold medal on the AWC wine fair in Vienna, one of the most prominent world wine fairs.
Some of the notable wineries in the Haloze district are Gross, Kobal, Ptujska Klet.
Ljutomer - Ormož
is the section with arguable the best wines in the Podravje wine-growing region.
The terroirs are ideal to make unique wines, known as 'predikati'. Special wines, made out of almost dry berries with botrytis bunch rot. The harvest is late, mostly in the snow. The temperatures must be way below the freezing point to pick the right kind of grape, so the water in the berries crystalize and the sugar increases to the sky.
Harvest is a lottery. With one wrong step, they can ruin the whole year's production. The yield is not a discussion in this case at all. What counts, is the right moment of harvest and extremely careful process to the final product.
In the past, these wines were made for queens and kings.
In this district, there is a village with an interesting name Jeruzalem.
It got its name after a group of crusaders who ended up there on the way to the real Jerusalem, back in the times of crusade wars.
Most likely they were not really willing to fight.
After being warmly welcomed by the locals and trying the local wine, they decided that they came to their final destination.
They settled and didn't move on.
Hence the name.
Some of the notable wineries in the Ljutomer - Ormož district are Kogl, Kos, Kupljen, Verus.
is the section around the second largest Slovenian city, known about its aromatic white wines.
Under the center of the city, you can stroll one of the biggest wine cellars in Europe. It is over 150 years old. When built, it had about 2 km (about 1,25mi) of tunnels on about 15000m2 (about 3,7 acres).
Today you can walk the labyrinth of 3km (about 1,9mi) on some 20000m2 (about 5 acres), passing by wooden and inox barrels, concrete cisterns and special bottles with a capacity of 5,5 millions of liters.
The archive of the cellar is a treasure with over 25000 bottles, starting with the year 1946.
Some of the notable wineries in the Maribor district are Horvat, Protner, Ramšak.
Radgona - Kapela
extends on the right bank of Mura River, from Gornja Radgona to Ljutomer, where hills extend to the plains of the Prekmurje district to the east.
First Slovenian sparkling wine (penina) was produced here back in the year 1852, using the Methode Champenoise.
Along with Ljutomer - Ormož and Maribor section, it is the area with the most appreciated white wines.
Some of the notable wineries in the Radgona - Kapela district are Frangež, Radonske Gorice, Valdhuber.
Srednje Slovenske Gorice
The oldest Slovenian wine is coming from this district, the exclusive Zlata Trta (Golden Grapevine) from the year 1917. It is carefully kept in the town of Ptuj, the main town between the Haloze and Srednje Slovenske Gorice districts.
The district is exposed to the Alpine breeze from the west, so it is suitable just for some of the white varieties.
Merely southern and eastern slopes are favorable to grapevine growing due to specific relief.
Some of the notable winemakers in the Srednje Slovenske Gorice district are Cvitanič, Kocuvan - Avos, Toplak.
Šmarje - Virštajn
This district is the westernmost of the Podravje wine-growing region. It is exposed to the Alpine climate even more than Srednje Slovenske Gorice district.
The grapevines have to be chosen carefully.
More than 30% of all vineyards are planted by the Italian Riesling grapevine.
The peculiar climate is on the other hand favorable to an indigenous variety, Žametna Črnina.
The best quality wine of it is coming from the undulating hills of this district.
Some of the notable wineries in the Šmarje - Virštajn district are Emino, Urbajs, Zorenč - Hohnjec.
is the district at the beginning of Pannonian plain, bordering with Austria and Hungary.
The microclimate is specific in this region with hot summers, cold winter, little rainfall, and a lot of fog in the autumn.
Thus the grape matures quickly, the yield is not high.
There are hilly parts north and east of the region's main town Murska Sobota, such as Goričko and Lendavske Gorice. The vineyards there are extending to the altitude maximum of 270 meters (about 885 feet).
The rest of the region is flat.
In the past, the district was not well-known about the wines.
Recently, with the younger generation and fresh knowledge, the situation turned in the opposite direction.
Today you can find even the exclusive 'predikati' (royal wines) here.
Some of the notable winemakers in the Prekmurje district are Gjerkeš, Marof, Urisk.
White varieties in the Podravje wine-growing region are Italian Riesling, Rhein Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Kerner, Furmint, Yellow Muscat, Muscat Ottonel, Muller-Thurgau, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Silvaner, Ranina (indigenous), Ranfol (indigenous), 'predikati'
Red varieties are Blue Franconian, Portugais Noir, Pinot Noir, Zweigelt, Žametna Črnina (indigenous)
Primorska wine-growing region
With an area of 8081 hectares (about 20000 acres), it's the second largest.
Despite the fact it's not the biggest, most wine is produced here.
It is subdivided into 4 districts.
is home to one of the world's thickest red wines, indigenous Refošk.
The wine is so thick that we call it black.
The name was given by the Romans. They named it Rex Fuscus, the 'king of dark' due to its healing effects.
If Refošk is the king, Malvasia is the queen.
Malvasia is one of the Mediterranean varieties, reaching to quality in this district due to the pleasant sub-mediterranean climate.
In the best years also the quality of international Cabernet Sauvignon is unsurpassed.
The climate contributes to the high yield. Sun and humidity of the Adriatic Sea are perfect conditions for this district's varieties.
Often farmers leave the grass growing between the rows to keep the yield lower, slow the maturation and boost the aromas.
Due to the vicinity of Italy, one of the world's biggest wine producers with advanced marketing, this district enjoys the benefits of the newest bottling and labeling trends from across the border.
Some of the notable wineries in the Slovenska Istra district are Plahuta, Rodica, Vinakoper.
district was among the most affected by the political changes in the 20th century.
At the end of the '80s, there was very little wine production. Due to the specific geographical position in the 'pocket' next to Italy, farmers had been bothered by the authorities of both sides, Italian as well as the domestic Yugoslavian.
Farmers had a double struggle to obtain the same results as farmers in most of the other regions.
After independence in 1991, the glorious rise has begun.
The political sky cleared up. After joining the European Union even the borders disappeared.
People of Brda, always smart and inventive due to the life between the hammer and the nail, united and started the biggest common attempt at founding an international reputation of top quality. Their parade wine is the indigenous Rebula.
Brda is a world's pioneer region in reviving the Amphora wines, the 5000 years old tradition deriving in Georgia, more precisely around the Caucasus.
The district is an example of progress for all Slovenia, and even wider.
Its wines are regularly at the top of the world's wine charts.
Some of the notable wineries in the Brda district are Kabaj, Klet Brda, Movia.
is becoming a new player on the global market of exclusive wines with revived local varieties of Pinela and Zelen.
To the north, the district is embraced by popular hiking destination Nanos mountain range and Trnovski Gozd plateau. To the south, it extends to Karst plateau. To the west, it descends down towards the Adriatic Sea.
The district is known about very strong Bora wind, which can blow with the speed of over 200km/h (130mi/h). The wind is an important element in creating the specific terroir for crispy, light wines beside some thick reds.
Some of the notable wineries in the Vipava Valley district are Batič, Burja, Colja.
district is specific due to the 'Terra Rossa' red soil full of iron and minerals.
This is the area where the sub-mediterranean climate touches the continental one.
These conditions are ideal to make Teran wine, which is even thicker and full-bodied, with an even higher acidity than its 'brother' Refošk.
The two wines are actually coming from the same 'mother'. Different terroir is a reason why the same grapevine is giving two distinguished varieties.
Both are considered to be among the wines with the highest amount of different antioxidants.
The tradition of 'osmice' has been present in the area of Karst, Vipava valley, Istria, and the suburbs of the city of Trieste (today Italy) for over 250 years, since the times of Charles the Great and his daughter Maria Theresia.
Word 'osem' is a Slovenian term for number 8.
Following that time law, farmers had 8 days per year after paying the taxes, to sell the surplus of their products in their homes.
The tradition is kept just in the mentioned regions. Today you can't experience this peculiarity anywhere else in Europe.
A dried branch, hanging on every junction and crossroad, was leading the people to the 'osmica', a farmer's house opened for the mentioned period of 8 days.
Still today you can follow the braches almost all year round, ending up in farmer's home, tasting a glass of homemade wine and homemade delicacies.
The products are deriving strictly from the house.
'Osmica' is not a restaurant or inn. It's a culinary and oenological visit to someone's home.
Exquisite dried ham of the area goes perfectly together with the wine. God knew what to put together here.
Some of the notable wineries in the Kras district are Lisjak, Štoka, Tavčar.
White varieties in the Primorska wine-growing region are Malvasia, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Sauvignon, Sauvignonasse (formerly Tokaj), Rebula (indigenous), Zelen (indigenous), Klarnica (indigenous), Verduc (indigenous), Pikolit (indigenous), Vitovska (indigenous)
Red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Shiraz, Barbera, Refošk and Teran (indigenous), Cipro (indigenous)
Posavje wine-growing region
It is the smallest wine-growing region in Slovenia with its 4328 hectares (about 10700 acres).
It is the only wine-growing region producing more red than white varieties.
It is subdivided into 3 districts.
As in the other two districts of Posavje, you will not find the vineyards in the plains.
The microclimates within this district make the diversity of varieties very high. Thus there is no parade wine in this region.
Thus the parade wine of Dolenjska district is Cviček, the blend of at least 4 varieties, either red or white.
The recipe for this fresh, easy wine with just about 8 - 9% of alcohol varies from area to area, we can say even from village to village.
It is one of the simplest wines in the world. Hence some even refused to call it wine.
After many arguments about it, it was legally protected as a product of traditional denomination within the European Union.
It is the pride of the district as officially the oldest blend in Slovenia, dating back over 200 years.
'Zidanice' are usually two-story cottages on the slopes of the district hills, with origins far back in the medieval times.
By that time law, every cottage took care of the stripe below it.
The ground floors of the cottages were storages for tools and wine press while the upper floor was the accommodation for the winemaker's family in time of intense work in the vineyard.
Nowadays some of them are opened to the visitors, so you can become a master of your own wine cottage for the time of your holiday in Slovenia.
Some of the notable wineries in the Dolenjska district are Domaine - Slapšak, Jelenič, Kerin.
Bizeljsko - Sremič
The vineyards are extending on the altitude between 200 - 400 meters (660 - 1320 feet).
The mild climate is favorable to Blue Franconian variety, which reaches its best here.
This district became known all around the world in the year 1880 when the Phylloxera grapevine disease was noticed for the first time in the village of Globoko pri Pišecah. The disease made half of the vineyards around Europe to disappear and caused a mass emigration of European winemakers.
Nowadays fame is the opposite.
First Porto-style wine was made here.
Sparkling wines from the area regularly the champions in their category.
Some of the 'predikati' are also coming from here.
'Repnice' or turnip underground cellars are unique to this district.
Bizeljsko was the coast of the Pannonian Sea thousands of years ago. Its withdrawal left large deposits of sandstone materials, which turned to quartz sand.
Dug into it, these mysterious tunnels were originally the storages mainly for turnip, that the area was known for.
After the refrigeration was introduced, many of the cellars were abandoned and consequently collapsed.
Some smart guys examined the remained ones. It was found out that the temperature and humidity are ideal to store the wine.
This is how the new story has begun.
Join me to have a pleasant time in a very special underground quartz sand tasting room.
Some of the notable wineries in the Bizeljsko - Sremič district are Istenič, Najger (Repnica underground cellar), Nujec.
The climate here is influenced either by the mediterranean or the pannonian one. This means summers are very hot and winter very cold, with spring arriving early.
This makes the district optimal to make the 'predikati' royal wines as well as previously predominant reds Žametna Črnina and Portugais Noir.
The district reached success by two first-timers of Slovenia, the Rose' in the year 1981 and 'predikati' ice wine in 1985.
Some of the notable wineries in the Bela Krajina district are Pečarič, Prus, Šturm.
White varieties in the Posavje wine-growing region are Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Silvaner, Italian Riesling, Portugaise Rouge, Muller-Thurgau, Rumeni Plavec (indigenous)
Red varieties are Blue Franconian, Portugais Noir, Pinot Noir, Gamay, St Laurent Grape, Žametna Črnina (indigenous)
How to book a wine tasting?
You can send an email to the wineries, and arrange a meeting with them directly.
But - in this case, you will either need your own transport or struggle with the Slovenian public transport which, honestly, you can consider a mission impossible in this context.
The best option is to contact me on a wine journey.
We can select the most suitable wineries for you upon your tastes and preferences.
You can have some wine tasting around Slovenia also by taking some of the day trips or multi-day tours including wine-growing regions.
But the well-known wineries are not everything that Slovenia can offer you.
We can make our way to the smaller ones, that don't even have a website and are not listed on any of the commercial websites or guidebooks.
The reason is they don't need that. Their wine is sold in advance.
These ones might be the biggest surprise.
Who is wine tasting suitable for?
For all the open-minded people.
It is not suitable just for kids and drivers.
Slovenian police are very strict in terms of drinking and driving.
Do not miss a wine tasting in Slovenia
The next great wine country
Did you know that the oldest grapevine in the world is located in Slovenia, in the city center of Maribor?