ABOUT THE COUNTRY
Slovenia lies in the heart of Europe, where the Alps meet the Mediterranean and the Pannonian plain. Slovenians refer to their country as “The Green Treasure of Europe”, because it is small, unbelievably beautiful and GREEN!
The country measures 20,273 km² (7827 mi²) in area, and is home to two million inhabitants – sincere, hospitable people of great diligence. It has an exceptional number of top athletes, and a wealth of cultural creativity.
Once part of former Yugoslavia, Slovenia became Independent in 1991. The country may not have a majestic history like many larger European nations, but the past is nevertheless important. For many it is surprising that such a small nation, without kings or famous military leaders of its own, could even form, survive and carve out an independent path. But this is the result of the resilience and determination of the Slovene people, whose culture and common language have survived for centuries.
With regard to the climate, soil structure and relief, wine experts consider Slovenia to be one of the most interesting wine areas in the world. Natural conditions for winemaking are good; however, this is only the first part of the ‘magic’ from which wine is produced.
80 to 100 million litres of wine are produced annually in Slovenia. According to the amount of produced wine at the global level, this is a minuscule amount. However, on a global scale, Slovenian wines are quite important and known for their quality and taste. Almost 70% of Slovenian wines fulfil the criteria for quality and premium wines, which is definitely a result of a highly-developed wine culture and demanding wine lovers.
In Europe, less than 10% of vineyards are on the steep slopes.
In Slovenia, around 50% of vineyards are on rather steep slopes where the incline is between 16% and 30%. Almost 21% of vineyards are on the slopes where the incline is more than 31% and they represent so called “heroic winegrowing”.
Viticulture is the way of life in the Brda area. Almost every family living here cultivates a small vineyard, where we also grow cherry and olive trees. We are following in the footsteps of our fathers, our grandfathers and our great-grandfathers. Our love for, and great devotion to, our remarkable land are deeply rooted in our hearts, so nothing can threaten them.
On average, the producers own 2-3ha vineyards, positioned on steep hills, with no possibility of irrigation, or machine work. That is why most of the activities in the vineyards have to be carried out manually, with a lot of attention to natural circles and quality control. Besides being a way of life and a job, cultivating vines contributes to richness of cultural landscape and to (sustainable) development of remote rural areas.
The secrets of wine growing are passed from a father to a son spontaneously, naturally with much patience and love. This process of succession from one generation to another is long, as the younger generation has to gradually master the traditional know-how developed by their ancestors and internalise it, while at the same time acquiring new knowledge through formal education.
OLDEST VINE IN THE WORLD
The oldest vine in the world grows in Slovenia. It is the oldest living specimen on our planet of a noble grape vine that still bears grapes! With an age of over 400 years it is registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest vine in the world.
Most grape harvests in Slovenia take place from the end of August until the first half of October. Due to the smaller size and fragmented ownership of vineyards, hand picking of grapes prevails. The picking of grapes by hand is of course more time-consuming and tiresome than machine picking but the harvesting experience is more authentic and unforgettable. Moreover, it allows for a greater level of control.
The customs surrounding grape harvesting differ in the three Slovenian wine-growing regions, and for the full experience, all three should be visited. If you do not know how to contact vineyard owners, who always gladly welcome any additional pair of hands, there are numerous tourist packages available.
St Martin’s Day
The time around St. Martin’s Day is a time when the autumn work is concluded in the countryside and preparations for winter begin. At this time, the countryside is filled with ritual festivities that are traditionally intertwined with village life.
On St. Martin’s Day, i.e. November 11, people celebrate the name day of St. Martin, a patron saint who, according to legend, turned water into wine. To honor this holiday, many ritual celebrations take place every year during the week surrounding St. Martin’s Day, which are together called the Feasts of St. Martin. The holiday is celebrated throughout Slovenia, in towns and villages alike.
Wine matures at this time and, at the Feasts of St. Martin, the “impure” and “sinful” must is blessed into real wine. As a rule, these events are filled with joy, music, local culinary specialties and, naturally, wine.