Discover Slovenia as wine country

By. Christophe Pirotte

Slovenia, which lies just south of Austria, is the only country in Europe that combines the Alps, the Mediterranean, the Pannonian Plain and the Karst. The changing landscape is a constant surprise. While looking in one direction at the sea, you will see the Alps winking at you from the other direction. Wild forests lead to green meadows to deep gorges. These contrasts characterize the country, and it is due to these differences in soil, climate, and cellaring methods that each wine-growing region is so different from one another.

Slovenia might not be the first country you think about when you hear the term “wine country” but there exists a growing and interesting wine culture which wine lovers will find very intriguing. In three wine regions – Podravje, Posavje and Primorje – we find 14 wine-growing districts going from the western micro-climate Goriška Brda over the Karst plains and Vipava valley to the eastern hills of Jeruzalem (yes, you read that right).  Everywhere you can meet fascinating boutique winemakers explaining their craft and sample their achievements.

Today Slovenia has more than 28,000 wineries making about 80 million liters annually from the country’s 22,300 hectares of vineyards. About 70% of the country’s production is white wine. Almost all of the wine is consumed domestically; only a small amount is exported—mostly to the United States, Ex-Yugoslavian countries, and the Czech Republic. About 20% of the wine is protected geographically.

One can find a number of indigenous varieties such as Teran, Zelen or Pinela but the latest trend in Slovene wine making is producing orange wine. The process of making orange wines goes as far back as 5000 years in Caucasus, but reinvigoration has only come about in the last 20 odd years. Slovene wine producing tradition does not go back that far but the Romans were the first to plant vines in the Jeruzalem hills. It is worth exploring this small but captivating country guided by wine as a sparkling golden and red line.

 

Grape varieties – examples:

White

?          Laški rizling (Olasz riesling)

?          Šipon (tokaj)

?          Sauvignon

?          Chardonnay

?          Beli pinot (white Pinot)

?          Sivi pinot (Pinot gris)

?          Renski rizling

?          Traminec (Traminer)

?          Rumeni muškat

?          Rebula

?          Malvazija

?          Zeleni silvanec (gruner silvaner)

?          Zelen – ‘green’

?          Pikolit

–           Pinela

Rood

?          Modri pinot (pinot noir)

?          Modra Frankinja

?          Merlot

?          Refošk (Slovene, Teran)

?          Cabernet sauvignon

?          Cabernet frank

?          Barbera

?          Modra portugalka

?          Modri burgundec